We all struggle with procrastination. Even the world’s most successful entrepreneurs; it’s human nature, as we hanker to keep our senses constantly engaged. And while today’s society emphasises a need to look to the future, humans are hard-wired to enjoy the moment – making it impossible to keep focused at all times.
The difference between successful entrepreneurs and those who flag behind, however, is that they don’t let procrastination get the better of them! They make a concerted effort to work passed distractions and put in place strategies which will enable them to refocus and push on, despite mental obstacles:
Mindfulness is a crucial business (and life) coping resource, and brilliant at decreasing procrastination. Self-awareness is part and parcel of mindfulness; it means consciously paying attention to your feelings, motives, desires, and behaviour, in order to make sure they are aligned with your goals. Having this self-awareness will allow you to pinpoint why you are even procrastinating to begin with – making it easier to beat.
Self-awareness allows you to examine whether you’re experiencing some of the common triggers of procrastination, such as: overwhelm, boredom, low confidence in the project (and outcome), and low self-esteem. Once you uncover what it is that’s triggering your distracted nature, you can find a way to cut procrastination off from the cause.
The next time you’re struggling with procrastination, grab a pen and paper to journal out how you’re currently feeling with the tasks you need to get done. Does there feel like there’s too much to do? Or are you having difficulty getting excited about the work? When you know why you are becoming side-tracked, you can avoid futile efforts to focus which come from not dealing with underlying problems.
Another handy tip for managing procrastination is to be self-aware of your strengths and weaknesses. Nobody is perfect, and striving to be a master in all areas of your business will quickly leave you deflated. Often we spend longer getting things done when we don’t enjoy the work at hand, or we’re simply not very good at it.
The next time you start procrastinating, write a list of your strengths and weaknesses and reassess whether this task would be better delegated to someone else. Delegation is another key factor in keeping your motivation and focus high, allowing you to push through procrastination quickly and easily.
For many of us, procrastination is caused by the relentless distractions of modern day life. If you find yourself checking Facebook every 10 minutes when you should be working, you too are probably experiencing a very common form of chronic tech-induced procrastination!
Fortunately, it’s possible to block these distractions – leaving you no choice but to get on with the work at hand. Try tools like SelfControl, Focus, and Rescue Time, which will all temporarily block the websites you normally feel yourself being drawn too (yes, we all have those timewasters). Or, if possible, turn your wi-fi and mobile data off and work completely offline for a few hours.
Making it impossible to access your usual distractions may sound drastic, but it’s an extremely effective method of bringing your focus back to the important tasks. Plus, as a lot of our notification checking is simply an unhelpful habit; once you’re used to resisting social media and trashy news wires, you’ll find you won’t always need to rely on restrictive apps. You’ll just no longer get the urge to distract yourself.
Think about the environment in which you’re currently procrastinating too. Are you trying to make progress in a space which simply won’t allow the peace and inspiration you need to get work done?
Don’t underestimate the importance of having a dedicated office space or, at least, space where you feel comfortable and distraction free. If you’re trying to do work from home and finding it difficult, consider co-working or hiring an office space where you can really focus on your business without the distractions of family life or flatmates.
You want to be a business success, right? Then it’s crucial you commit. This means committing to getting things done, no matter what.
Making a commitment to yourself is one of the most important things you can do in business early on. Write down a mission statement, make a list of your goals for the week/month/year/, and get organised with a reliable calendar and reminders system so you can keep on track of your to-do lists and commitments.
Go back to being self-aware again and have a think about what the best methods for keeping you accountable are going to be. If you work best by referring to to-do lists on pen and paper, don’t feel pressured into having a fancy tasking app.
Another aspect of staying on top of your goals and objectives, get others on board to help keep you accountable. This can be as simple as getting your partner or best friend to check in and ask how you’re progressing with your business, or you might want to find a reliable accountability buddy – someone who is wanting to achieve similar things to you and will be excited to hold you up to your big goals, in return for the same attention and respectful pressure to help you follow through.
You could also start documenting your journey with a blog or vlog. This way you’ll be able to track your progress while also committing to sharing with the public. Allowing yourself to come under scrutiny with others for what you have/haven’t done can be an excellent motivator.
Finally, consider professional accountability from a coach or mentor. Paying someone to keep you on track can be a brilliant investment; as it’s their job to help you make progress they’ll have no excuse for not pushing you forward or holding you truly accountable for your progress – whereas friends and family may let their own life distractions get in the way.
Investing in support from someone who feels just a little outside your financial comfort zone will act as a further incentive to take your progress seriously too; when you’ve invested a lot of money in reaching your full potential, you’ll be a lot more likely to work passed mental obstacles and achieve as much as possible.
Be honest, how many times have you sat down to work with the best intentions (to be productive) and yet you soon find yourself browsing the net or wasting hours on low-impact activities, like checking your emails…
We’ve all done it. But there is a solution: make a schedule.
To best use your time, you need to make a plan of what you want to achieve and how you’re going to go about it. Always have a to-do list together before you sit down to work on any project. What do you need to do next to quickest reach your goals?
Defining your goals on a frequent basis is also crucial. What do you want to achieve in the short and long-term?
For the short term: start your business week by creating an overarching plan for the next 7 days, and be specific. Plan your time down to lunch breaks and leisure time. Yep, it’s vital you are scheduling time OFF too; your wellbeing is a huge factor in overall motivation and productivity.
For the long term: decide what your goals are for the next month/year and keep checking back to see whether your daily and weekly projects are leading you closer to these objectives. By keeping track of your goals you’ll know what work is a high priority and what can be left until later.
Don’t forget, doing menial tasks is another form of procrastination, but it can be avoided…when you plan ahead!
When you’re starting out in business, difficulty often comes from not seeing results fast enough. When you’re not seeing the results you’d like (whether that’s social media interaction, sales, or customer feedback) it can be easy to slip into a headspace of panic and overwhelm – a huge distractor from keeping on track! But keep showing up.
Keep following out the tasks you’ve set yourself in line with your bigger goals, and push on passed fears anyway. Don’t let uncertainty throw you into procrastination mode!
That you keep showing up is especially important if you’re carrying out a crowdfunding campaign.
There may be days when you don’t see funds come rolling in, and the temptation is to panic and start procrastinating, working up a million other ideas a pondering what changes to make to get more attention. Don’t let doubts distract you from showing up again and promoting your campaign every day.
Success comes from persistence, not from switching and swapping your strategies every week.
Maybe you’ve heard this one before… but here’s a reminder: successful people know how to break down their goals into manageable and measurable chunks. One of the fastest ways to throw yourself into procrastination mode is to overwhelm yourself with huge jobs which are simply too time-consuming or complex to be viewed as one task.
For example: If you’ve written ‘get £10,000 funding’ on your to-do list, the likelihood of making this a reality anytime soon is slim. A better goal would be ‘spend an hour researching local grants and loans’ or ‘create a company introduction for a crowdfunding campaign’.
It’s just the way we’re wired that a list of several smaller tasks is much more likely to get done than one huge and terrifying job. Achieving something small will allow you a sense of accomplishment and pride which will motivate you on towards the next task.
When you’ve tried everything to make progress with a project but you still can’t find the desire or focus to get things done, it could be time to quit.
Successful people know when to give up, even if they have already poured months into a project.
You don’t need to finish everything you start. Some business projects can be left as fantastic lessons to share our future successes (although it can be hard to make the final call and step away from something you have loved).
If you’re really struggling with procrastination, take a step back and seriously ask yourself whether the work is still important to you. Is it moving you closer to your business and life goals? Do you need to focus on other projects, where your passion and motivation is already flowing?
If you’re still not sure, tap into your emotions. If you’re used to making business decisions from a rational, professional point-of-view you may have forgotten how much your mental wellbeing is related to the business progress you’re making. If working on your business hasn’t been bringing you a sense of enjoyment and reward for a while, it may well be time to move on.
Remember: there’s no shame in calling an end to something when you have carefully considered your options and know that your time, attention, and talents, would be better used elsewhere. In fact, being able to make that decision is the mark of an entrepreneur who will have long-term success.
What will you achieve when you conquer procrastination?
Don’t let procrastination restrict your success. Reading our tips is a huge step towards overcoming procrastination but without a plan on how to apply them, you’ll still struggle to get more done with your time.
Make a note of one or two of the tips which most strike a chord with you and plan how you are going to use them in the coming weeks to ramp up your productivity. Actively using even a few of these tips is sure to dramatically boost your output.
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