It’s easy to put things off — everyone does it. Ha! I just started this post with one of the excuses you use to procrastinate, didn’t I? It makes you feel better to know you’re in good company, so you can let yourself off the hook — again.
The thing is, procrastination in itself is an effort — it takes energy. You use energy just holding a part of your brain aside, knowing this thing isn’t complete yet and having it nag and remind you of that fact, and in coming up with more and more excuses for not doing it. It also takes time and energy just in feeling bad about not doing the work, which can eat away at the positive energy you need to surround yourself with as a business owner.
If you put all that energy you spend on procrastinating towards the work that needs to be done, and do it right, you can turn the negative drag of procrastination into the positive lift of inspired action.
So let’s talk about how you can do that.
Step #1: Dump the excuses.
There are lots of excuses we use to procrastinate, to name a few:
- not knowing where to begin
- fear of failure
- fear of success
- the work is boring
- it’s something you’re not good at
- it’s something you just don’t like to do
- there are “more important” things to do
- it will take too much time
- everyone procrastinates, so it’s okay
and I’m sure you can think of some other good excuses as well. Can we agree, just for the moment, that they’re just excuses, and not let them have any weight? Just wipe them from your mind, pretend they don’t exist. Especially the one you’re holding onto for that particular project — you know the one I mean. Dump it, stop standing behind it. Got it?
Step #2: Accept the possibility that it may take less time to actually do it than it does to keep worrying about it and thinking about how you’re putting it off.
This may sound totally wrong, but when you apply it to a particular situation, you may find that it’s really true, and that if you dig in and just do the thing, you can get it behind you really quickly. This may be a big relief to you and motivation enough to just dig right in and do it.
Step #3: Break the thing down into smaller chunks, or do the “Sticky Note” process to wrap your brain around it.
There now, it’s not so bad, is it? You can do it in chunks, and you can do the smallest, easiest parts first, to build confidence and momentum. It may help to set a timer for some of the chunks, telling yourself you’ll only have to work on it for 20 minutes today — and at least that way you’ll get 20 minutes closer to your goal. You’ll be surprised how much you can get accomplished in 20 minutes! Timers really help, because they give you a stopping point, and permission to leave the task after having accomplished something.
Step #4: Think — what are the worst repercussions of not doing what you should do?
Many people are motivated by the negative. You may or may not be one of them, but you should really know the effects procrastination has on your business. Think this through for each thing you’re procrastinating on, and write it down.
Step #5: Think — what’s the best thing that could come about because you actually did the thing you’re putting off?
Really think about this. There may be some opportunities you’re missing, and procrastination in this area may really be holding you back.
Step #6: Do the thing!
If you’re not ready by now, you may need someone to take you by the hand and guide you. I’ll be happy to help, for the sake of your business.
Now, let us know how you handle procrastination. What has worked (or not worked!) for you?