Expert Interview with Ali Edwards

Post written by Leo Babauta.

Ali Edwards is many things: an author, a blogger, a designer, a teacher, a mom, and one of the world’s foremost experts on scrapbooking. But most importantly to me, she’s someone I respect who has accomplished a lot.

How does she manage to accomplish so much, with the responsibilities of being a mom and multiple jobs? Ali shares what she does below.

1. What have you been doing lately to beat procrastination?

Ali: Looking back over the last few months here’s what I’ve been doing:

1. Giving in to it and embracing new routines. Sometimes it’s just what needs to happen. For me that means adjusting schedules and deadlines where possible. It’s transition time around here (especially the school to summer for my kids) and it’s fairly normal for that change to impact my work flow (both the way in which I work and the amount of work I can realistically do).
2. Forcing myself into my office because once I’m in there I usually get going on something on my list. Sometimes just starting is the biggest hurdle. I often tell myself to go in there for just fifteen minutes – usually within that time period I will have started the work that needs to be done and will be mentally engaged enough to keep going. If not, I walk out of my office and do something totally different vs sitting there being unproductive (I find that leads to even more procrastination).
3. Getting real about my schedule (this relates to number 1) – which means being very specific about my “work time” helps remind me that there’s less time for procrastination if I want to be living the other pieces of my life (time with my kids, going to the pool, pursuing other interests).
4. Staying off the internet/social media. I’m working on being super conscious about the time I spend surfing vs. time I’m spending creating. Don’t get me wrong – there’s a ton of good stuff and visual inspiration online, but it can easily become a tool for procrastination vs. a tool for project completion.
5. When I find myself in the midst of procrastination I’ll often take a shower. Lots of good ideas tend to develop for me in the shower and I’m often ready to get back to work after that process.

2. What’s the biggest reason people have a hard time starting an important task, and what 1 or 2 habits should they form to beat this?

Ali: In my arena, design and storytelling and making art, I see lots of people procrastinating on projects because they want to get it right. And they want it to be perfect (whatever that looks like in their head). And that fear of imperfection can be paralyzing.

For me, my personal biggest reason is distraction. Could be mental, emotional, or simply another task on my desk. “Focus” is a single-word mantra I use a lot.

Habits: Embrace imperfection. Accept the fact that perfect is so very relative. Embrace your own personal voice and style vs. thinking it needs to turn out a certain way. This isn’t easy but it’s possible to change the tapes in your head one day at a time by embracing one little thing at a time.

3. If resistance has kicked someone’s butt for a long time, and they don’t know how to even start to change it, what do you suggest?

Ali: We all need boosts of confidence. I suggest selecting one task you can do to completion – and it should be something fairly small and do-able. There’s a great deal of confidence that’s built simply by finishing a small/task or project all the way to the end. I know for me I actually experience a bit of a high when I complete something and it usually serves as a jumpstart for the next project in line. Finishing a project all the way opens the door for confidence in completing bigger projects down the road.

Find more from Ali Edwards on her blog, her online workshops, her Downloadable Digital Art, and Photography & Scrapbooking & Journaling In Ireland (October 2012).