Procrastination – often seen as the art of doing nothing. It can often be obvious when we’re procrastinating, such as having a day off when we really should be working. However, when you’re in business for yourself, it’s often easy to spend all day being ‘busy’, yet still actually be procrastinating.
You see, procrastination isn’t just about avoiding work – it’s the practice of carrying out less urgent and/or more pleasurable tasks than those we really NEED to be doing. This then leads to missed or late deadlines, rushed work and, in the worst scenarios, important tasks that get missed all together.
So how can you learn to deal with procrastination and stop jeopardising your business success?
Get clear on your ‘to do’ list
The first step is to get clear on what tasks need doing, as your procrastination may be down to overwhelm. So take a look at those tasks on your ‘to do’ list and, for each of those tasks, ask yourself the following:
- Are they prioritised?
- Do you know how to complete them?
- Do you need to break any down into more manageable chunks?
- Are you clear on any deadlines and have you written them down?
- Do you have all the information you need to complete the tasks?
- Are they all relevant and essential?
- Are any ongoing, open-ended tasks?
Rearrange your list
You can now use your answers to rearrange your ‘to do’ list – you may find it easier to write a new one. The idea here is to make sure your list is small and manageable, so use your deadlines and priorities to create a new list just for this week and keep your original one as a general / master list. That way, you’ll be looking only at your tasks for this week.
Get clear on your procrastination pattern
Look at your list and acknowledge those tasks you’re avoiding. You want to understand WHY you’re not completing those tasks – these questions may help:
- What am I scared or fearful of around this task? Is it a fear of failure or rejection, for example?
- What emotion do I feel when I think of this task? Do you get a sense of dread or heaviness around completing this task?
- What end results does this task get me? and what does this end result mean? Does completing this task mean a change in some way – one that you may be unsure or unsettled by?
Make a decision
Once you have your answers you can make a decision. Do you want to complete those tasks on your list? Are there any you want to pass to someone else to do or want to outsource? Maybe you want to drop some altogether. Making these decisions will help you gain more control over your procrastination, your time and the tasks on your list.
However, there will be times when you need to make the decision to just get on with a task, regardless of how you feel or what you’re worried about and that leads us nicely onto the next pointer.
Complete an action
The easiest way to beat procrastination is to complete some form of action. In some cases that may mean contacting an outsourcer or another Virtual Assistant, in order to pass the task over. In other cases however, it may mean getting out a timer and putting in some action!
The trick here is to start small. If you start with a 5 or 10 minute time slot and work on one task for that length of time, you’re more likely to actually get started. You can then reset the timer and start on the next task, once the timer has finished. After all, it’s only a short time slot and that isn’t scary or overwhelming for you when you compare it to looking at your entire list and thinking of the hours it may take to finish all of those tasks.
But what this time slot will do IS get you started, effectively getting you out of procrastination overload. And, once you get started, you’ll see that you’re moving forward and THAT will enable you to gain even more momentum – so set that timer and begin!
Do you find yourself battling with procrastination? How do you deal with it? What was your biggest takeaway from today’s post and what will you be implementing? Why not share your thoughts and procrastination tips in the comments box below!