It’s March – did that just strike fear into your heart? Yep, depending on what day you read this, it’s more than 1/6th of the way through the year. Remember those plans you had for new projects, growth, taking ‘Fridays off’ just to show that you really are in charge of your time? How are you going with those? Smashing it? Really?
Don’t worry; you’re not alone in not having gotten your head completely into your business game as yet. In fact, university research shows you’re likely to be in some good company with one in five people being found to be a chronic procrastinator. And just in case you’re wondering that figure is the same regardless of your global location. And those numbers are rising (thank you internet and cat/dog videos).
That’s a lot of people who are routinely putting off important things in life – like changing up your old non-responsive website, making those client calls, doing the work that actually produces the revenue.
Where do you sit on the procrastination scale?
Procrastinators delay things to feel better at the moment, but often at the expense of the longer-term – not just in business, but in all areas of life, including social, financial, personal and professional. They often delay things in ways that can wreak havoc, produce ongoing shame, and/or undermine their life/business goals. Where you sit on the procrastinator scale depends on how often you procrastinate and the severity of consequences. If you’re missing deadlines or blowing off business opportunities – for whatever reason, chances are you’re at the pointy end of that scale.
Why do we procrastinate?
In short, brains (yours, mine and everyone’s) prefers the immediate reward. Need to get stuck into that hard project? But wait, it’s more fun, right now, to get a coffee, watch that video, chat to a friend. Plus we overcompensate for the willpower of our future selves. You, tomorrow (you think) will be a far stronger, more resolute business owner capable mammoth work intensities.
Plus you’re more likely to procrastinate when you’re tired, stressed, overwhelmed or worried about failing. And then there’s the stuff that we flat out don’t like doing – which as it turns out has an easier fix.
Getting past procrastination
- Trick your brain with the “I’m just doing this for 10 minutes”, which is long enough for you to get your head into whatever it is that needs doing.
- Cut your endless to-do list to three must-do items a day (and that’s all. Only when you’ve done those can you do the ‘other fluffing about stuff’ and no, inbox zero doesn’t count as a must-do.)
- Use a technique like Pomodoro to break your work time up which allows you a 5-minute cat video break every 25 minutes
- Don’t wait for the right mood or the perfect moment and just get started with it. Tell yourself it doesn’t matter what the first draft looks like – it’ll be done.
- Leave the next day’s thing on your desk before you leave at night – for future you. Do that first.
- Cut out the things that break your concentration – like phone calls. Have someone else take your calls (especially the client-facing stuff) and batch your responses at a time of day that works best for you. If you don’t have a receptionist, find a virtual reception provider.
- Palm-off the stuff you just don’t like doing. Outsource your books, your social media or your admin. Let it go to someone who loves doing that stuff. Focus where you need to.
Beating procrastination is a must if you want to see your small business make its (and your) goals for this year. Enough reading. Pick a tip and start now.
Roland Farrugia, SOI Virtual Receptionist & Virtual Office Solutions Advisor – Serviced Offices International