10 Tips to Stop Procrastinating NOW!
With the aftermath of COVID hopefully behind us and economic instability for many business… now is not the time to get stuck in the murky depths of procrastination. More than ever, your business requires you to be a business leader, not just a business owner! What we are seeing though are many business owners really paralysed with how to move forward in uncertain times.
Procrastination is very real and it’s main cause stems from overwhelm, not knowing what to do, and the fear of failure. If you fear the consequences of failing then the logical thing to do is to avoid taking action – positive or negative! Letting yourself become paralysed with self doubt and not knowing how to move forward due to a lack of knowledge isn’t really an excuse. Your business needs you to dig deep and find the solutions that are there. Learn from others who have gone before you, and take their experience and apply it to your own situation.
As Mason Cooley says, “Procrastination makes easy things hard, and hard things harder.”
The worst thing about procrastination is that it eats away at your confidence and your self-worth. You need to act swiftly and with conviction in times like these. So let me share with you 10 great tips on how to manage procrastination when you feel it setting in:
1. Face the fear and get realistic about the situation
What is it that you need to get done? We all need to be realistic about our situation and procrastination sets in generally because we are fearful about what we don’t know, or what MIGHT happen, and then we avoid what we should be doing, finding a million distractions to get in our way. Fear breeds avoidance. So… sit down in a quiet spot and really get deep with yourself and figure out what it is that you need to get done in the coming weeks and months to get the maximum results for your business. Understand what you are actually ‘fearing’ about addressing the task head on, and then work through that realistically. Fear is just a perception of what might happen in the future as it hasn’t even happened yet, so sometimes just acknowledging what you think might happen and then dealing with that is all you need to do.
Set no more than 3 really important tasks to get through in the first week that will make a real difference to your current situation, and also list what might get in your way so you can eliminate this from occurring. If you are missing some knowledge or expertise that will help you, list that too so you understand what you need to get help with and seek that.
If the fear is unnaturally large to you, seek help or expertise to help you through it and break it down so it feels manageable. Procrastination just delays what you eventually will need to do, so you might as well tackle it head on!
2. Attach your important tasks to your business’ vision and life goals
It’s really important to remember why you are in business and how you will benefit from doing what you have listed as important tasks for your business. Attaching these tasks to your vision will remind you when it comes time to taking action, and remind you why you need to just do it. (This is why your vision needs to be really compelling to you.) By attaching your action steps to your life goals and what you want to achieve in life will also really help to get you off the procrastination cycle. Put visual reminders of what you want around your office and house to keep you on track.
3. Share your vision with a colleague and make your actions accountable
We tend to feel more motivated when we’re held accountable to something outside of ourselves, particularly if we say that we are going to do something. So, work with a business colleague or a trusted advisor and set your tasks that you know you need to get through, and make the commitment that you will achieve them in the time frame you set down. There’s nothing more motivating than potentially disappointing somebody that you really respect, to keep you on track with your to-do list!
4. Visualise how good life will be when you do the tasks that you have been putting off.
Sometimes we get so overwhelmed by the ‘doing’ of the task that we forget how good we feel once it’s done. So by actually completing the task and feeling all the good feels, we often wonder why we put it off in the first place! Quite often it’s the overwhelm at the perceived size of the task. So, visualise how good it will be to be finished, and feel all those wonderful feelings and then go to the next point and make the list!
5. Make a list with realistic deadlines
There is something very cathartic about getting your overwhelming tasks all down onto a piece of paper and organising it into a system of most urgent to least (based on what your business will benefit from the most – not what other people might be wanting from you!).
When you do this simple step, all of a sudden your workload looks more manageable when it’s downloaded from your brain and onto paper.It’s also imperative you give it some structure and add specific deadlines to each task, and if you have a team, make sure you assign key team members to help with each of the tasks and get them to own the completion date. When you set realistic time frames, this makes each task seem even more manageable and you have a time goal to work to.
6. Batch bigger projects into bite-size chunks
Breaking down tough jobs into easy pieces is the quickest way to make a mammoth task feel a lot more manageable. It’s easy to feel defeated and therefore fall into overwhelm and procrastination when you can’t visualise HOW you are going to manage such a task. By listing the project into smaller steps, you’ll be able to see the pieces falling into place as you go along and tick off at each stage, feeling a real sense of achievement as you go.
7. Create the space and shut out distractions
Energy flows where attention goes, so shut out the world while you are trying to get important tasks done. Have a really good understanding of when you are most efficient and work uninterrupted in these time slots. Close the door, switch off the phone and email, lock yourself off from social media until a task is complete. Know what is likely to distract you and eliminate that from your workspace so procrastination doesn’t creep up on you through ‘harmless’ distractions.
8. Tackle the hard stuff first
Most people are most productive first thing in the morning, so it makes sense that this is the best time to tackle your toughest actions first – which let’s face it, is most likely the task that you are dreading doing and causing all the procrastination in the first place!Difficult phone call to make? Need to speak to the accountant about your finances? Need to figure out where you can save money in your expenses? Got to get an e-newsletter out to your database urgently to increase workflow?
Just. Do. It. Why? Because you will feel such a surge of confidence when you get the hardest task done first that you can’t help but feel spurred on to keep going with the far easier tasks, ticking off your to do list as you go!
9. Work in sprints to the Pomodoro Technique
It’s impossible to maintain focus all day without some breaks. So set your timer to 25 minute time blocks where you work like a demon for 25 minutes and then break for 5 minutes. No distractions, no outside stimulation, just you and the task at hand. Strategic breaks will help refresh your mind and quench that desire for distraction, allowing you to resume total focus once you return to work. The task at and then also feels quite manageable when you know your next break is only 25 minutes away.
10. Reward yourself for completing the really difficult tasks that you have been dreading
Who doesn’t love a reward when you achieve something you set out to do? It doesn’t even have to be anything major, it can be as simple as going out for a nice walk or reading for half an hour in the sun. Quite often, the reward itself is that the task got done and you will now get to reap the benefits from the work you put in.
Procrastinating is very real and it can be a real burden for many business owners, particularly when it is caused by a real fear of not knowing how to move forward on a difficult task. Following these steps and giving yourself a pat on the back will work wonders at kicking procrastination once and for all, and boosting your self esteem so you can tackle even more issues that your business might be facing in tough times. The results will come as you continue to move forward.
“Time is an equal opportunity employer. Each human being has exactly the same number of hours and minutes every day. Rich people can’t buy more hours. Scientists can’t invent new minutes. And you can’t save time to spend it on another day. Even so, time is amazingly fair and forgiving. No matter how much time you’ve wasted in the past, you still have an entire tomorrow.”
― Denis Waitley