What is Procrastination?
Procrastination is the avoidance of doing a task that needs to be accomplished. It is the practice of doing more pleasurable things in place of less pleasurable ones, or carrying out less urgent tasks instead of more urgent ones, thus putting off impending tasks to a later time. (source Wikipedia)
When you are running your own business, procrastination can directly affect your ability to be successful, so it necessary not only to be able to recognise it when it happens but also to take steps to get back on track as soon as you can.
If you are honest with yourself you should know when you are procrastinating but here are some useful indicators that will make it very obvious!
• Waiting until you are in the right frame of mind or mood until you tackle a task
• Doing other duties that are not business related such as housework or online shopping
• Moving a to-do item from your daily task list, day after day
• Sitting down to complete a high priority task and then immediately getting up to make coffee/tea or go to the bathroom
• Filling your day with low priority tasks
• Telling yourself that you will do it tomorrow!
Usually, procrastination boils down to 1 of 3 issues
1. You don’t like doing the task that needs doing
2. You feel overwhelmed by the task either in its size or in the skills you need to complete it
3. You are disorganised with all your tasks and so don’t fully understand the importance of the task you are avoiding.
Luckily there are solutions to all of these issues. If you don’t like the work that needs to be done, consider out-sourcing it! It may seem like an unnecessary expense, but it would likely take someone else that loves that task half the time that it takes you and it would be kept up to date and so would cut down on time needed there too. Meanwhile, you can move on to doing tasks that earn you money, that you love doing! If your core business activity that generates you money is something that you hate doing, then you are in the wrong business! If outsourcing is not an option, then try to schedule a set amount of time to work on the task and then reward yourself with being able to move on to something that you do love after your time is up. This way at least the task is moving forward and not getting further and further behind.
If you are overwhelmed by the size of the task, break it down into smaller more manageable pieces and consider software options that may be able to automate parts of the task, doing some of the heavy lifting for you. Create a list of all the “parts” of the task and schedule those parts into your to-do list. If you can intersperse them with other tasks that you do like doing to give yourself a break. If you are worried that you don’t have the knowledge or skills to complete the task, at least take a closer look at it. Sometimes our fear tells us we can’t do something before we have even tried. However, it is usually not the case when we take the time to try. Alternatively, again you can always look at outsourcing the task to someone that does have the skill set.
Disorganisation can cause all kinds of setbacks and delays. You cannot do your best work when you are down to the wire and have an urgent deadline to meet or even worse, what happens when you can’t accommodate another client request because you don’t know what you already have on your plate or when it’s due. To do lists are a must when you lack organisation. Your brain cannot focus 100% when it keeps randomly remembering other tasks throughout the day that need to be complete. Getting it down on paper alleviates your wondering thoughts. Once your list is written, it’s time to prioritise. Check out our time management blog post here for some great time management strategies.
Use a Reward System
Assigning rewards to tasks can help your motivation. Create a list of items that help you to feel good and use them as rewards to get tasks completed. Items such as food or drink, change of task breaks, and even monetary rewards for completing big tasks can help. Remember though that procrastination is a habit and will not change overnight, but you can implement new habits to help!
Now go write that list!