Overcoming procrastination in your business.
What could you achieve in your business if you were consistent in doing the important things that would help you be seen by more of the right people or enrol more of the right clients?
What would you create? How much growth would you see personally and financially in six months or a year if you had strategies to help you stop procrastinating and start making consistent progress on the things that are a priority in your business?
While I’m definitely no expert when it comes to the psychology of why we procrastinate or how to stop, I’m a pretty expert procrastinator (**deep sigh**) and have found the following strategies to be helpful in getting me to overcome it so I can stay focused on my business vision and goals.
**NOTE: This article was originally published on my blog in Dec 2014 and has since been updated to reflect procrastination from more of the online solopreneur’s experience.
1. Your procrastination is protecting you
Procrastination can serve an important purpose and that is to keep you safe.
If you can’t find the motivation to update your blog, declutter your inbox or write the copy for your sales page, then it’s possible your procrastination is protecting you from the stress and overwhelm you feel in your already busy life.
It can also cause you to delay anything that challenges your comfort zone like putting yourself out there online and will find any excuse to put off goals that elicit your fears.
HOW TO OVERCOME IT: reflect on What your procrastination is protecting you from
Is it protecting you from chaos, stress or boredom?
Is it protecting you from scary things like:
- responsibility, or
Which fears stop you dead in your tracks before following through or getting started in the first place? Once you’re clear about what you’re being safeguarded against, ask yourself:
- Is my fear protecting me from real danger or one that is perceived?
- Does avoidance protect me from stress or contribute to it?
- Is delaying things I don’t want to do helping me or hurting me?
2. The task is too big
Are you having a really hard time getting started on your goal because it feels big and insurmountable?
I felt this way before the development of my website. When we focus on the bigger overwhelming goal it can paralyze us into inaction.
You might be thinking to yourself, “I don’t know where to start or how”.
When the task is too big it’s daunting which makes us freeze and do nothing or find something more enjoyable to do.
It’s the small, consistent action we take each day that helps us achieve our goals and lead us to success.
Break your goal down into small bite-sized actions until the goal or task is so small that the stress and anxiety you feel for starting is gone. Poof!
Do not focus on the bigger goal unless it’s to help you determine what the smaller actions are. By focusing on the bigger goal your energy will be diminished for the task and it will paralyze you into taking zero action. It’s counter-productive in fact.
Another tip is to focus on the result instead of the task itself.
For example, instead of focusing on the task of cleaning your house, focus on the result that having a clean house will bring: a cluttered-free, simplified space for you to fully relax and enjoy!
Which is more motivating?
What’s one thing you’ve been putting off that will benefit your higher good and bring you one step closer to living the life you truly want to live?
Write it down now.
3. you believe it’s harder than it actually is
Have you ever procrastinated for so long that by the time you get around to doing whatever it is you need to do you realize that you’ve wasted more time complaining about it than it would’ve taken to do it in the first place?
This occurs when our mind tricks us into believing that something is much harder, more time-consuming and more difficult than it really is.
When I fall victim to this pitfall I like to do one of two things or both:
1. focus on the smaller task.
My mind usually thinks a task is much bigger than it actually is because it focuses on the bigger overwhelming goal. Just like in #2, break it down until your goal or task is so small it doesn’t overwhelm you.
2. be intentional & prepared
Here’s what I mean:
Before I write a coaching follow-up email, a blog post or complete my own self-development work, etc., I make the activity intentional by lighting a candle, burning incense and clearing my chakras (a breathing exercise to help me become present).
I also clean my physical space to help minimize distractions and create an environment that induces creativity.
By making it intentional, your task becomes much more enjoyable, too.
04. you lack interest
This pitfall conjures up every excuse in the book to put our important work off because the goal or task bores us to tears. It’s not interesting, and frankly, we just don’t want to do it.
I find myself procrastinating a lot when it comes to organizing business or household paperwork like bills, receipts, or anything to do with financial statements and budgeting.
It’s not my forte, but, it’s extremely important and isn’t something that can be or should ever be avoided.
The harsh reality is that sometimes we just have to do things we don’t want to do. It’s called being a grown-up. Boo!
When it comes to accomplishing goals or completing tasks that I don’t want to do I apply one or several of the earlier tactics mentioned.
For example: when I had to organize a massive pile of household paperwork that needed to be filed I prepared for the task by purchasing the supplies I would need for the job (i.e new file folders, page protectors, a proper filing container) and then I carved time into my schedule (a few hours) to complete the task.
To make it enjoyable, I found a movie on Netflix, turned on the fireplace, sat in front of the TV with a big ol’ glass of wine and completed my goal. Check!
Look for ways to enjoy the task and psyche yourself up to get ‘er done.
…and If all else fails, delegate!
Is there someone in your household who would be better suited for the task or might naturally enjoy it?
If not, is there a service out there willing to do the entire task for a fee?
Maybe enlisting the help of friends or family for an afternoon will help you get the job done? I guarantee that there’s someone out there either willing to help you or do it for you.
05. you want things to be perfect
I’ll admit, for years I thought that being a perfectionist was a good thing. I would tell potential employers that my weakness was “perfectionism” and now I seriously shudder whenever I think back to that.
Unfortunately, perfectionism still rears it’s ugly head from time to time (hello! website launch procrastination) but I’m learning that it doesn’t have to prevent me from getting stuff done.
Of course, it’s important to have high standards and put thought and care into everything we do, but there’s a point when our perfectionism becomes harmful to our success and overall well-being.
1. give yourself a deadline.
Perfectionists need strict deadlines because we obsess over every aspect of our project and task to the point we never get it done. It’s important to be realistic in giving yourself a timeframe to complete the task and then honour the time you’ve set.
2. decide when good enough is good enough.
We procrastinate because we’re too busy agonizing over every tiny detail until it’s absolutely perfect, when the truth is, it’s already good enough. That may sound like we’re settling, but it’s better to release your imperfect work into the world NOW than wait for your perfect work—NEVER. You get the point.
3. know that you’re already enough.
Perfectionism stems from a belief that we’re not good enough. We need to show the world that we are good enough so we waste valuable time trying to prove it.
A friend recently shared a beautiful excerpt from Brené Brown’s book Daring Greatly that summarizes this thought perfectly:
Wondering how to tell the difference between when you need to rest versus when you’re using “rest” as an excuse to procrastinate?
I love this breakdown on Stillness vs. Procrastination: How to Tell The Difference by Mastin Kipp from The Daily Love.
In case you can’t listen now, here are a few key points:
- You feel relaxed and relaxed in your body
- It creates clarity and provides “next action” steps
- Creates momentum and movement
- You feel tense and tense in your body
- You have the sense of “I know I should be doing this”
- You know when you’re procrastinating and shouldn’t be.
This is a fantastic post! I am SUCH a bad procrastinator and have suffered from all of these. I can think of several things on my to do list that have been there for more months than I care to admit because of some of these reasons, although I haven’t previously stopped to think *why* I’m procrastinating on them. This is so helpful!!
Vicky, thank you for your comment, I’m happy that you’ve found it helpful. Awareness is a beautiful gift. Once I become aware of why I procrastinate the better equipped I am to pull myself from the slump much sooner. The first step is to be compassionate toward yourself since your procrastination is there for a reason. I hope that you check off some of your to-dos before year-end with joy & ease!
Your post seems to have been written from my life! I’ve been suffering from procrastination for some time now and I’ve been trying to beat it. I’ve read a lot on the topic, I’ve listened to different podcasts… I guess, I’m able to figure out the reasons. I hope I even already know what to do. But that self-sabotage!!! I believe, this is my biggest enemy at the moment and, unfortunately, I haven’t been successful in beating it so far!
Thanks, Liuda for your comment. What does self-sabotage look like for you? What are you resisting? Please know this isn’t an exhaustive list, there could be deeper things going on for you and you may need to explore the root. I really enjoyed “The War of Art” by Stephen Pressfield which talks about resistance, if this resonates, it might be a good book to check out if you haven’t already! Much love to you.
This article is so well written. I have ADD, and procrastination is a significant part of my life. Your article helps pinpoint what exactly is happening when I’m experiencing it; what a revelation. Thank you for writing this, it’s a huge help in cultivating different approaches.
Thanks, Patrice. I’m glad the article resonated. Procrastination and Adult ADHD are things I struggle with on a daily basis, as well, and these are a few things I’ve found has helped. x