You might not know it, but I’m a natural procrastinator. Much of my life, I’ve been one to put things off until they come to a critical head. Procrastination is a habit I struggle with daily, and it’s one that can have detrimental effects on business performance. Below are three strategies I use to battle the bad habit of procrastination.
No, I’m not talking about gastrointestinal health. Make sure you have a regular schedule or routine that you keep, daily or weekly. As a small business owner, you are not bound by the traditional work hours of 9-5. You can work when you please, and even schedule work times around other events in your day-to-day life.
For example, If you feel more productive in the early morning try scheduling complex work projects that take a lot of concentration during these early hours. If you have kids, you might opt for working on projects once your little ones have gone to bed.
Determine what works best for you and then stick to it. Religiously. Without this consistency, it’s easy to fall into a pattern of procrastination. You might find yourself saying, “I’ll just do that tomorrow.” Guess what? Sometimes tomorrow never comes, and before you know it you have so many things to do that it becomes overwhelming to even start.
Make a list.
For me, this is the number-one thing that keeps me from procrastinating. Take some time before your day starts (even if it’s just 15 minutes) to review your daily goals.
There are lots of ways to make a to-do list: Scribble one out on paper. Type one up using Microsoft Word. Try a program like Todoist to keep you organized. Personally, I use a cloud-based application called Evernote because I can create lists, type notes, upload photos, add reference tags, and set date and time reminders to these notes to make sure procrastination is the last thing on my mind.
However you do it, create an agenda and determine approximately how long each task will take to accomplish. Also, you might find it helpful to divide your list into short-term and long-term goals. Prioritize your short-term goals as projects that need to get done today, but when you have time, also work on your long-term goals a little bit each day.
Worry about starting, not finishing.
Sometimes the hardest part of a project is overcoming the dread associated with getting started. Every single time I start working on a logo project, I begin with pencil in hand, staring at a blank sheet of paper and wondering “how am I going to do this?” I get so worked up about the finished project that I become paralyzed with fear. That fear then leads to procrastination.
How do I overcome this fear? The best explanation I have comes from my friend Wayne Geyer. He is a writer extraordinaire and one of the funniest people I know. A few years ago I took Wayne’s writing seminar called Write More Good and he had this to say as it relates to the fear of writing: “Write it first and write it worst.” In other words, whatever you first write or create is probably going to suck. That’s okay! Just start somewhere. Perfection might come down the line after a lot of work and revision, but you don’t have to expect perfection right from the onset of a project.
Procrastination can definitely kill your business mojo, but with a little work it’s easy to overcome. Heck, add this to your short-term goals; work at it each day and you might be shocked with what you can accomplish.