Procrastination – a word so frequently used these days that I think it will become a medical affliction soon!
The Cambridge Dictionary’s definition of procrastination is “the act of delaying something that must be done, often because it is unpleasant or boring”.
I can definitely see that this definition sits well if you have a fear of the dentist, have to unblock a drain or clear out your wardrobe. But for me, I can use procrastination in many, many other situations just to avoid doing ‘big jobs’ and in fact can quite often be found doing the mediocre or boring jobs (like the washing, ironing, filing) just to avoid doing something else that actually would impact more greatly on my life and my business but that I find either too overwhelming or too nerve wracking.
I consider myself a ‘Queen of Procrastination’ because I am so well practiced, and can even see that I’m going to do it before I do it. Yes I even recognise it’s going to happen and still let it happen!!
On a more serious note, procrastination is, in fact, the ultimate black hole for time, the best way to lose allocated working hours of the day, and it can seriously impact on the level of success that small/medium sized businesses can realise.
By putting off those jobs that we know we have to do, we are simply delaying the actions we can take to better our success and then wondering why we haven’t got more customers, more sales, a wider contact list etc.
And ‘those jobs’ covers a myriad of things. In my case, it could be my accounts, monthly goal setting, blogging (sometimes!), follow up calls or making an important phone call.
I put them off because they seem to big to tackle or appear to be so paramount that to have a negative outcome would be far worse then actually not doing anything at all.
So I have a few tips that I am trying to include every day which might also help you if you’re feeling the same and using all the excuses under the sun, including finding that long forgotten ‘thingy’ that suddenly becomes vitally important or even cleaning the oven (which I found myself doing yesterday – a job I truly hate & could have waited I am sure!).
1. Become really organised – identify what needs to be done (your action list), roughly how long each action is going to take you and what time you have available.
2. Prioritise your action list – I prefer action list to ‘to do’ list as I feel like my subconscious is telling me off every time I don’t get something done if it’s a to do list!
3. Allocate time in your diary – literally breakdown each day in to sections and write in what you need to focus on for each allocated time (I’ve included a pic of my diary – as you can see I love a highlighter!).
4. Check the night before what you need to do & achieve the following day. You’ll wake up with it fresh in your mind and you’ll be more focused.
5. Don’t over commit yourself for the day – make sure you can do what you’ve allocated, don’t try to squeeze things in as you’ll only feel disappointed at the end of the day when you should be rewarding yourself.
6. Give yourself a high five – review what you’ve achieved at the end of the day & congratulate yourself. You’ll go to sleep more positive & be ‘up and at it’ the next day.
7. Reward yourself – especially if you’ve got a particularly big job where the outcome is important, make sure you’ve got a reward lined up (a really nice cup of coffee or a 20 minute sit in the sun, it doesn’t have to be expensive!) – it’s complete mind bribery but it definitely works.
8. Eat that frog! – for anyone who knows me, they know I love a bit of personal development literature. And this book is definitely on my list of favourites. The underlying theme is to do the worst/biggest possible job first thing in the morning & then everything else feels like a breeze and easy for the rest of the day! If you’ve not read it, click here for more info.
9. Just Do It – possibly one of the best marketing straplines ever created! Ask yourself ‘do I want this success’? ‘Do I want to build my businesses / make a difference / get my goals?’ If you do, just get on and do it don’t just talk about it, you’ll feel so much better about it afterwards.
10. A move forward is better than doing nothing at all. Even if you do the job and you don’t get the outcome you want, you’ve done it, you’ve tried it and you’ve learnt. Far better that way than staying stagnant. If you don’t make a change nothing will change – you have to be the difference. And failing is all part of learning – and who said that’s what’s going to happen anyway, it might end up being the best possible outcome imagined!!
Making a few small changes to your day will reap their rewards and you will find your procrastination becomes less and less, making you more productive, more passionate, more positive and of course you and your business more successful.
Let me know how you get on…..