It’s a common problem – in fact studies show procrastination affects around 95% of all people. Even top entrepreneurs fall prey to it every so often – but that doesn’t make it acceptable. The TRUTH is, it’s bad news for you and VERY bad news for your business.
Procrastination is the evil, dirty troll that sits in the corner glowering at you, sucking your time and energy – and unless you do something about it, he will drain you dry and eat your business for breakfast.
The reality is this: Being productive and getting quality results is achieved by completing tasks and projects in as short a time frame as possible to the best of your ability. To accomplish that superior level of business and achieve your goals, you MUST banish procrastination back to the clammy little pit from whence he came.
And not only that, every time you feed that greasy little monster it costs you a chunk of your self esteem. Every time you set yourself a task to be carried out you are effectively making a contract with yourself. Put that task off and fail to complete it on time and to the highest level you can, and you are breaking that contract. This has a BIG knock-on effect to your self esteem and self belief – after all, if you can’t trust yourself to do a good job, why should your clients and customers? The negative effects of that can impact every aspect of your business.
Procrastination can lead to damaging your reputation, wasting precious time, making the wrong decisions, ruining relationships, blowing opportunities, losing clients and never reaching your goals.
So I’m going to show you the best ways to arm yourself for the fight and tackle 3 major perils of procrastination:
Peril #1 – Feeling swamped
When you’re running your own business your resources are stretched and it can be a struggle to keep on top of things – what needs to be accomplished can be totally daunting. Tasks that need to be done can become millstones and it can feel like it’s dragging you down. When overwhelmed in this way it’s all too tempting to take the “˜easy’ route and not do anything at all, but that is really going to HURT in the long run.
Solution: Take a step back. Break down your tasks so that they no longer appear as one insurmountable obstacle. Breaking your tasks down into bite sized pieces will make them less scary and much more manageable. Assign short periods of time to achieve each small task and check off each task when finished to acknowledge your achievement. Think of each task as a small piece of a big puzzle – every task you complete is a significant step to solving the bigger picture.
Peril #2 – Perfectionism
Worried you’re not going to be able to get things done perfectly? Do you feel as though you have to be able to perform perfectly before you can be willing to act? Are you putting things off until you have the perfect resource, the perfect piece of advice, the perfect new tool to help you?
Well, there is no such thing as perfect. Nothing is flawless, and what you deem to be “˜perfection’ is subjective and it’s unlikely others will recognise or appreciate your personal benchmarks. Being so obsessively nitpicky just results in wasting time unnecessarily and makes it more difficult to complete tasks on schedule – if at all.
Solution: There’s certainly nothing wrong with having high standards, so strive for excellence and progress rather than perfection.
Assign yourself strict, realistic deadlines and stick to them. Allocate your deadlines appropriately for the task in question. Make sure the deadline is actually ACHIEVEABLE – don’t give yourself too little time, or too much. Wherever possible hold yourself accountable to somebody else. Creating deadlines in this way and focusing on completing tasks to a high (but less exacting) quality will move you to action.
Peril #3 – Not enough time
FACT – entrepreneurs are busy people, it goes with the territory.I don’t doubt that there are big demands on your time, but that’s not an excuse to not use the time you DO have wisely. There are always more unpleasant things to do around your workplace that you would rather leave till later, but having a “˜maÃ±ana’ attitude is only going to make the situation worse. Ignoring a problem does NOT make it disappear, and whatever you may think you do not work best under pressure.
Solution: You need organisation, so plan your day in advance. Use a proper diary and sit down and at the very least make a plan every evening for the following day. Keep things simple and start with the one thing you must get done to feel productive. Alternate unpleasant jobs with tasks you enjoy and don’t push yourself too far or you’ll get bored or frustrated.
Set a routine. If you know there are things that need doing on a regular basis make sure you allocate sufficient time for that every week. DON’T get too detailed and over plan, but do allocate some time to have a break and relax, as well as for anything unforeseen that might arise – you’ll find you are less distracted, have deeper focus and achieve so much more with the time you have.
Be your own hero and banish procrastination back to the bowels of the earth. But be on your guard he’s a slippery fiend and he’ll try everything he can to crawl back again. Deal with him with a sense of purpose. Stay focused, visualise your goals and follow the advice I’ve given you, and you’ll be able to keep procrastination where it belongs – beneath you.
About James T Noble: James makes small businesses bigger. He’s worked with some of the world’s largest brands and companies to market their products and services online – including Disney, Microsoft, 20th Century Fox, Virgin, Coca Cola, MTV and many others. Find out more and read business growth tips at http://www.JamesTNoble.com