Prior to this week I was on the road for nine days; all for one project. This of course means I have a lot of writing to do. Many people I know who do what I do for a living dread the report writing process, with good reason. We have to take multiple hours of conversations and converge what we heard into themes and then turn those themes into opportunity areas for our clients. In short the report has to say ‘this is what we heard and this is what it all means.’
I actually look forward to the writing process as I view it as a creative outlet. Also, great reports are a better marketing tool for building client business than fancy lunches, holiday gifts, or slick sales materials.
All that said, I face a problem when it comes to writing research reports; procrastination. To me, this is different than dread; I don’t fear the process of writing nor am I overwhelmed at the task at hand, I simply put off starting a report as long as I possibly can without endangering a deadline. The primary reason is once I start, I will literally get lost in the writing process until I have lost all sense of time. I will forget to eat and will build a wall around myself (a la Roger Waters) until the report is ready to be proofed.
What are some of my procrastination methods? Have a look and tell me what you think.
- Cleaning my desk. My desk is typically a mess (but of course I know where everything is). I have been known to actually file stuff to put off writing a report.
- Cleaning the kitchen. This is one my wife does not complain about. If there are dishes in the sink, I will go upstairs and clean them – I might even empty the dishwasher (without being told) from time to time before putting pen to paper.
- Going for a run. This, I argue, helps with the writing process as I tend to reflect on a project during long runs and organize my thoughts. The bigger the project, the longer the run.
- Facebook. Enough said.
- Reflecting out what TV dad I would be. I decided on Jason Seaver from Growing Pains. Not many of you know this, but I am a huge Alan Thicke fan. His vocals on the Different Strokes theme song are classic.
- Wii. I find a quick 3 holes of golf against one of my kids is a great way to humble myself before starting the writing process.
- Inbox management. The last thing I will do is actually filter through all of the email in my various inboxes and do a great purge.
After engaging in some or all of these activities, I can begin the process of converging observations, building themes, and crafting insights for my client. Oops, there is one thing I left off the list, updating this blog.