“Turning pro is a mindset. If we are struggling with fear, self-sabotage, procrastination, self-doubt, etc., the problem is, we're thinking like amateurs. Amateurs don't show up. Amateurs crap out. Amateurs let adversity defeat them. The pro thinks differently. He shows up, he does his work, he keeps on truckin', no matter what.”
It’s so easy to put things off until later, especially if it’s something you really don’t want to do. This is how dishes and laundry pile up. For the entrepreneur this could mean the accounting, the marketing, or really anything that drives you to surf Facebook and avoid doing.
Why Do We Procrastinate?
For entrepreneurs, procrastination is most often driven by fear. You start thinking things like:
- “If this marketing campaign doesn’t work, my business will fall apart.”
- “If I write this book and it doesn’t sell, everyone will realize I’m a fraud.”
- “If I try to calculate taxes on the payroll, I’ll mess it up and go to prison for tax evasion.”
To make matters worse, putting off this task makes you feel guilty about not doing it.
When you stop and think about things realistically, you will realize that these thoughts sound pretty silly. You are very likely not going to fail, and even if you do, it’s not the end of the world. The best thing to do is to tackle the dreaded task with 3 easy steps and say goodbye to guilt!
3 Steps to Overcoming Procrastination
Step 1: Identify one thing you are avoiding.
What task can you just not make yourself start on? Getting clear on this is a great first step. Be sure to write it down.
Step 2: Identify why it is uncomfortable.
Why don’t you want to do this task? Are you uncertain about your math skills? Are you afraid of what this will mean for your future or your reputation? Consider what it is about this particular task that makes you uncomfortable and write it down. Usually at this point, you will breathe a huge sigh of relief. Writing down your fear will allow you to let go and move forward. Now you can get down to the business of getting things done.
Step 3: Identify an easy first step to get started.
Big complex tasks are daunting! There are many moving pieces and it’s hard to even know where to begin. Start by just writing down an easy, tiny little step to get things going. Make a call, write a short list, or set a meeting to discuss with a colleague or friend. The first step is the hardest, so make it easy and manageable. The smaller the better!
Great entrepreneur hack!
How to Keep Procrastination at Bay
Schedule time to do the task. Put it on your calendar and block out time just for that task. The key is to treat that time as sacred. Build the habit of respecting the time you have set aside; don’t let anything or anyone disrupt it. This habit takes time to perfect, so don’t worry if it doesn’t happen flawlessly right away. Be reasonable with your expectations and keep trying.
Get an accountability partner. Find someone to talk things over with or to help you with this task. When you know someone else is counting on you to perform, you will be more motivated to make it happen. It’s way too easy to talk yourself out of work, but when you know you are accountable to someone else, you feel more committed to doing it.
Destroy the blank page. This means just get started. If you think it will take you two hours to write that proposal, commit to writing a TERRIBLE first draft in 30 minutes. Set a time and get started! Get everything down as quickly as possible no matter how bad it looks. This gets the hard part over with; you can make it pretty later. You’ll be surprised at how much you get done.
Should You Be Doing This Yourself?
Just because you are responsible for getting something done doesn’t mean you have to do it yourself.
There are tons of people who are willing to do almost any sort of task – and many of them are experts. If you know the job isn’t something you should be doing (if it’s not your strength or critical that you do it) just outsource it. Use your staff or build a group of freelancers or contractors to do those things and save your energy for your highest value work.
Procrastination can make your day seem to stretch on forever until suddenly you are out of time to get things done. Not only did you not get the avoided task done, you may have also let a bunch of other things slide too.
Make it a habit to put everything you need to do on your calendar and don’t let anything keep you from that task at that time. Or better yet, find an expert to do it for you. An incomplete chore can be a barrier to getting everything else you need to get done.
Stop procrastinating and get your life back.