Procrastination and how to tackle it
Procrastination: it’s the enemy of the entrepreneur, the blight of the business owner. I see it a lot in my work; I’m the antithesis of procrastination in the eyes of my clients. Whether I’m completely taking away what’s burdening them or I’m providing the accountability that helps them get those dreaded tasks out of the way, they will be completed.
Over the years, I’ve become quite the expert on the subject. Whilst I am, of course, able to relieve clients of tasks they can never seem to get round to, some may be quicker and easier for the business owner to complete themselves—even if they do resist them.
If this is the case, here are my thoughts on procrastination and how you can overcome it.
A job done should be a job done well
If you don’t want to do a task, don’t just go at it in a half-hearted manner in a bid to get it done—your clients or the growth of your business won’t appreciate this. That a task is a dreaded one shouldn’t mean compromising its quality. If it’s a task you continually loathe, outsource it… it’s not worth the hassle. However, if you do want to keep it in-house, give it the same attention and commitment as any other job. There may be ways you can streamline or automate elements of the task, but there will be no shortcuts, unfortunately.
On a similar note, if you have a list of jobs you need to get through, don’t try and multitask by doing a little bit of each one. Again, the quality of your work will suffer. If overwhelm happens to you regularly, you should really have a chat with me. Your time is worth more than you may think, and outsourcing can actually help to grow your business, i.e. it’s not an ‘extra cost’. My advice would be to choose just one task and focus on that only. Resist the temptation to break your concentration to answer an email that’s just come in or to text a friend—it will take far longer to get back into the swing of things than simply ploughing through said task in the first place.
Anything but the work
You may see the loading of the dishwasher or mindlessly surfing the web relatively menial tasks when you’re enjoying your downtime; however, these things become practically irresistible when you’re actively avoiding a work task. Staring into space or simply thinking about what you’re going to have for tea—in an unconscious bid to evade what needs to be done—can waste precious hours and will take you further away from your goals. The principle of the bestselling book ‘Eat That Frog’ suggests doing the tasks you love the least at the outset of your working day, before you can be distracted by anything else. Commit to doing just fifteen minutes or half-an-hour on this task…the chances are, you’ll probably get more done than you think once you get stuck in and focused on it. Even if this doesn’t happen, allow yourself a short break when the timer goes off before you tackle it again. If you ‘reward’ yourself with short ‘time-outs’ during the completion of the task, you will eventually get to the end of it relatively unscathed.
Sometimes, it’s not the task that’s particularly arduous or terrible, you’re just not in the right frame of mind to do it. Maybe a loved one said something that you’re dwelling on, or you’ve simply got out of bed the wrong side that morning…whatever is taking hold of your emotions, park it. Imagine what will happen if you don’t do the work you’ve planned that day, instead, spending hours stewing over something that’s already happened or which is out of your control…the chances are, you won’t get paid for your efforts or feel any benefit in that working day. If that’s not enough motivation to mentally say ‘enough!’ and distance yourself from your emotional turmoil, you definitely need a business mentor!
Picking and choosing
Most business owners make a list of the things they need to do on a daily, weekly and monthly basis (as well as longer term business plans). It can feel tempting to pick and choose the jobs you prefer doing over other, less liked tasks. The bad news about this is that the jobs you don’t want to do will keep getting pushed further and further back on your to-do list (assuming they’re business growth tasks, rather than client tasks of course), to the point that you’re so sick of moving them on to the next week/month that you take them off your list altogether. The danger here, however, is that you will never get to work on your business; you’ll only ever work in it. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and you’re just constantly fire-fighting to keep on top of your daily/weekly tasks, get in touch with me. Because, if you don’t make changes, this will always be the score and your business will never grow any bigger—in fact, it will decrease as time goes by and some clients naturally move away/die off/choose a competitor. Working on your business is crucial, even if you don’t plan to scale it up and you just want to maintain your current status quo. If you think of the cost-of-living crisis we’re currently living through, we all now need to earn that bit more if we don’t want to change our lifestyles, because prices have risen so much.
Now that you better understand the harm that procrastination can represent, which do you think would cost you/your business more money?
- A business manager and mentor, who will either relieve you of the burden of those dislikeable but necessary tasks that will ensure your business runs smoothly and builds in your preferred rate of growth, or which, at the very least, enables you to stay focused on them due to the streamlining and accountability they will instil
- Procrastination—where a job you dislike, which should only take an hour to complete, saps four or five hours (or more) from your day.
Your time has value. You won’t find more of it down the back of the sofa. You can only do your best with what you have. Ask for help if you’re struggling to get on top of everything that you need to complete.
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