Stop Procrastinating Now!

Caption: Cathy Abramson, (, Night Riders, oil, 24” x 48”, from the Manhattan Arts International “HerStory” exhibition.

One of the biggest obstacles for artists may be the failure to meet deadlines and frequent procrastination. The results can be damaging to an otherwise satisfying and rewarding art career.  

As a juror and curator for many years for Manhattan Arts International, I’ve observed a pattern related to artists and deadlines. Generally, artists who submit their applications early tend to be more organized in other areas of their art business. They send the message: “I am prepared and reliable.” On the contrary, artists who habitually wait until the last day to submit their entries tend to make more mistakes that lead to disqualification. And, many artists send me emails after the deadline with an apology: “I forgot. I’ll try to remember next time.” When questioned, they often confess procrastination is a problem for them and they wish they could be better at meeting deadlines.  

According to an article in  Psychology Today  magazine, “Twenty percent of people identify themselves as chronic procrastinators and for them procrastination is a lifestyle.” While not everyone is a chronic procrastinator, everybody may fall prey to this habit now and then. The good news is, it’s not a condition we’re born with. It is something we learn. So, the way I see it, we can also unlearn it.  

If you procrastinate and miss deadlines even occasionally, and you want to avoid these habits, here are three helpful tips: 

Tip # 1: Try the Carrot or the Stick Approach
Seth Godin, ( bestselling author, founder of Squidoo, and expert on effective marketing and leadership, offers advice on meeting deadlines. He wrote in a recent email: “Set up a method of reward or punishment with a third party. Money in escrow that goes to a cause you abhor. Public congratulations. Whatever the method, the point is the same: You’ve been trained since childhood to respond to external deadlines. For many people, that’s the only way to feel the magic of accomplishment.” 

 Tip #2: Change the Deadline
If something important is due on a specific date, change it on your calendar to a few days or a week ahead of the actual due date and mark it as DUE TODAY. This way you can work towards attaining the earlier deadline and you’ll have a few extra days to complete the project and make any necessary last-minute minor corrections. This mental trick is good at reducing the stress that often comes with looming deadlines. 

 Tip #3: Improve Your Time-Management Skills
The cause of procrastination or tardiness may lie in a lack of time-management skills and scheduling tools. Whatever project is due, allocate a realistic amount of time for it to avoid overloading your schedule. To manage an important project that seems overwhelming with too many parts, break it down into manageable, bite-sized steps and assign individual deadline dates to each one. Reward yourself for each step you accomplish. 

 I hope by adopting these habits and skills when you have deadlines to meet you’ll increase success in your art career and reduce stress in your life. 

 Also read The Art of Saving Time in 6 Easy Steps: 


Renée Phillips, The Artrepreneur Coach, helps artists attain their fullest potential in private consultations, coaching sessions, articles and e-Books found on She is also founder/director/curator of Manhattan Arts International and The Healing Power of ART & ARTISTS. Follow her on Twitter @reneephillipsny, join her on Linkedin, reneephillipsartcoach, and on Facebook ReneePhillipsArtCoach.