Leadership

How to Thwart Procrastination

ProcrastinationAre you a procrastinator? I am, as much as possible, but I’ve learned that procrastination doesn’t do justice to small business ownership. If you want to achieve great success, you have to be proactive. Here are 10 ways to thwart procrastination so you can more quickly and efficiently achieve your goals.

1. Try the "dash" approach

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, so give yourself a limited task to help you get started. Commit to doing a task for 10 minutes (or to writing one page, etc.), and if you really want to stop after you’ve hit your limit you can do so. Chances are, you’ll become engrossed in your task, and you’ll fly right past your limit without taking notice.

2. Make lists

Make goals lists for your life, year, month, week, and day. Build it as a hierarchy so that your daily tasks work toward fulfilling your weekly goals, your weekly goals toward your monthly goals, and so on. Doing so will help you minimize distractions and know that every move you’re making is contributing to the end goal.

3. Do the worst first

Fitness experts recommend most people jog first thing in the morning, because it’s much easier to get it out of the way than to convince yourself to go running after a long day at work. Your tasks are the same way: Do the worst first, and you’ll want to get it done and out of the way so you can work on something you enjoy.

4. Eliminate distractions

Make sure you’re working in an environment that’s conducive to productivity. Limit extraneous noise, avoid disruptions and uncomfortable temperatures, and stay off time-zapping websites. If you’re having trouble getting started, you might find it helpful to put on an invigorating music playlist to get you in the zone. I love oldies music, but I find it too relaxing for the working environment; if I need a kick-start, I’ll play a mix that includes heavier bands such as Metallica, Soundgarden, and Alice in Chains. Do what works for you.

5. Track your progress

This plays in with your daily task list. If you know what needs to be accomplished every day in order to achieve your larger goals, tracking your progress can motivate you to stay on task. Let’s say, for example, you want to earn $500 per day in order to reach your goal of a $120,000-per-year income. If you’re short a day, you’ll know you need to pick up the pace the next or else you won’t make your income goal. Force yourself to see how the mundane contributes to the big picture.

6. Understand what’s holding you back

Some procrastination stems from simply not wanting to do a boring or repetitive task. Other procrastination stems from a deeper internal struggle, such as the fear of success or the fear of rejection. Determine what’s holding you back so you can seek specific and relevant remedies.

7. Try anti-procrastination software or apps

Myriad apps and software are available to help end your procrastination. Some help you track your goals, others track your time and tasks, and still others blacklist distracting websites to help you stay on track.

8. Delegate

If a certain task doesn’t require your specific expertise, instead of putting it off you can put it on someone else’s desk. Hire a virtual assistant, outsource to a third-party company, or designate an employee to handle it instead.

9. Get a procrastination buddy

People who want to quit drinking or smoking are often encouraged to check in with a supportive person who will help encourage them to achieve their goals. The same concept can work for people who want to quit procrastinating. Tell your "sponsor" what your goals are, and then check in with them daily to let them know how you performed and receive any needed motivation for the next day.

10. Reward yourself

When you achieve your goals, reward yourself accordingly. It might be an hour of "you" time at the end of the day or a big vacation you’re worked hard to afford. Knowing there is a reward will help you keep your eye on the prize.

How do you thwart procrastination? Please let us know in comments.

Do you have any questions? Please ask.