Procrastination. The bane of any hardworking entrepreneur. After all, you decided to work for yourself because you didn’t like the “man” telling you what time you have to show up to work, what you’re to be doing every day… or springing a last minute overtime project on you when you have important after-work personal plans that you’ve been looking forward to for months!

It all seems so freeing and glorious, until you find you’ve been putting off a project that your company’s future hinges on, or ironing out all the details for a business plan for your latest venture, etc., etc.

Procrastinating businessman playing video games

You see, procrastination is sometimes necessary for you to become human again. However, overdoing it can slowly drag you down into oblivion – just like quicksand.

The right mindset and a plan to recognize and counteract procrastination when it rears its ugly mug are the only way to stop procrastination from holding you back in business and in life.

Here’s a few great tips to regain control of your time and professional obligations.

1. Say NO. Seriously.

This is probably the most simple, yet hardest procrastination-killer to deploy. Simply say no when you find yourself sitting down at your laptop to start planning your latest post for your blog followers, and then quickly find yourself tempted by the latest celebrity or sports news on MSN, etc.

You know you have work to do.

You also know that if you click that link, which is irrelevant to your current task, you’ll be swept away and continue to drift off-course for valuable minutes or even hours, accomplishing much less than you could have or perhaps nothing for the entire day. Same goes for other unplanned interruptions, like if a friend or family member asks you to do something exciting and spur-of-the-moment – say NO and proceed with what needs to get done.

2. Do it first

Rarely do we set out to procrastinate (and the road to hell has always been paved with good intentions!) Sometimes, we simply prioritize the tasks we prefer to do ahead of those which we do not. Makes sense, until you’re done wrapping up the fun stuff and suddenly the “high” you get from hammering out your marketing agenda for the coming month, or dealing with your inbox suddenly gives you delusions of grandeur:

“I’ll handle the financials tomorrow,” you say. “I worked so hard and got so much done today. I deserve a break. They can wait.”

Lazy panda

Even though your accountant has made it clear you need to get it done today, because the tax-filing deadline is Friday, and today is Wednesday, and she needs a day at least to get everything done on her end. Instead, do the “financials” or whatever else you know you’ll drag your tail on first thing, and do the less mentally-taxing tasks after.

3. Or – break mundane tasks into smaller pieces

Consider breaking the tasks you dread into smaller steps. When I’m putting together a how-to, or list-style post for my blog that I’m not terribly passionate about – but which needs to get done because I know it will add value for my followers – I’ll shift between doing one step or list item at a time, then move to something else to prevent myself from stalling and surfing to YouTube or seeing what’s going on in the Twittersphere, etc.

When employing the small steps approach, you really have to commit though. When it’s time to shift back to complete another step, you have to do it. Otherwise, guess what? You’re procrastinating!

4. Find or create a work-friendly environment

Clean and tidy office space

Truly, the best work environment is one that has absolutely no clutter.

  • A clean desk with only work-related aids and materials.
  • Your PC/laptop.
  • A monitor.
  • Keyboard.
  • Mouse.
  • Headset.
  • Smartphone by your side if absolutely necessary.
  • Books and files that relate to your business.
  • No televisions, video game consoles or cable/satellite connections to be found.
  • No couches or lazy chairs you can slouch in to take a siesta.

Eliminate your go-to distractions and procrastination will find it harder to creep in and take over your work day.

5. Find someone to make you accountable.

This one really goes against everything entrepreneurship stands for – ie., answering to anyone other than yourself and your clients. However, a lack of accountability is probably the most extreme limiting factor that makes so many self employed business owners fail to realize the success they dream of.

Make your spouse ride you about getting more clients signed on, ask a parent or friend to scold you if you still haven’t contacted Virgin to ask Richard Branson to speak at your next get together with clients and business contacts. Find a mentor whose done what you want to do in life, ask them to push you. Get a scheduler/reminder app for your smartphone that has a loud annoying alarm which goes off when you’re supposed to be doing something important that you dread or detest.

6. Stop waiting for the perfect time or the right inspiration!

I’m guilty of this. I know you are too. Much like the artists who patiently awaits the arrival their muse; we as entrepreneurs all love to wait for the “perfect” time to get it done.

An angry client wants answers as to why your online marketing service failed to produce more leads for them last month.

You know they’re mad, that every moment that goes by is another nail in the coffin of your relationship. Yet, you wait – for that moment when your brain says “it’s time”.

Then a day goes by, and another…

There is no right time. As Marie Forleo (and Nike shoes) says “Just do it!”