Are you procrastinating? Again?
Procrastination is really shitty. Not only is it an enormous waste of time – literally and metaphorically – but it makes you feel bad. No one likes procrastinating. When I find myself surfing house porn – rightmove.com is definitely one of my favourite wastes of time – I know I am moving into that space – when I find myself tackling the C list on my to do list – I know I have slid into the zone of pointlessness. And you know what the answer is. Take time out.
I know it sounds counter-intuitive but entrepreneurs aren’t lazy. They don’t know what needs doing. They don’t procrastinate on purpose.
Procrastination is mostly borne out of two things – overwhelm and self-sabotage.
Overwhelm happens when the sheer volume of what needs to be done prevents you from even starting a task as the enormity makes you feel like you are eating an elephant. So dealing with that is a matter of prioritizing and chunking down tasks into bite sized bits.
Self-sabotage often occurs when people are frightened subconsciously of the success of something – weird but very true. The outcome of something succeeding can often be a huge subconscious issue – am I worth it, can I handle it kind of thing – so the unconscious brain procrastinates in order to protect from the success. Failure is easier that succeeding.
So you need to take time – sounds counter-intuitive – and I am sure it will create a sense of rising panic when you think you are already under the cosh deadline wise – and I am now suggesting even more time out.
BUT YOU AREN’T DOING WHAT YOU NEED TO DO ANYWAY, RIGHT?
So stop. Take a day off. Go listen to your feelings whilst wandering around a nice garden or go for a bike ride or something. Absolutely do not allow yourself to do any work until the following day.
This will do two things. It will allow you time to observe your feelings. Please note I said observe – not act on them. Just listen and acknowledge the overwhelm, or panic, or fear or lethargy. And that acceptance of those feelings is very powerful in moving forward to a state of productivity. There is always a reason for procrastination – if you had to ask yourself what that reason was – what would it be? Once you know the answer you can deal with it, right? But you need to take the time to ask.
And then after your day off you have also imposed a sense of incredible urgency – your another day behind, right? – So set yourself and your task a very tight start and finish time – and literally set the timer. Racing against the clock is incredible in task management. The pressurised time constraint will mean you will absolutely focus on the task at hand and you will get it done. It may not be perfect, but it will be complete. And I have to say perfectionism in most businesses is very overrated – really it’s about completeness, finishing and implementing – and all of that starts by getting stuff done.
AND HERE’S THE BIGGIE. MAKE YOUR TASKS PUBLIC. I’m not talking Facebook here – I am talking publish your tasks to your team, your peers, your buddies – keep yourself accountable. We may let promises to ourselves slide but most of us don’t like looking like we are not achieving stuff to our peers, so accountability will really help keep us on track.
In summary counter procrastination – stop trying to work when you can’t take time out to examine the why, set yourself a tight deadline for completing – to put yourself under pressure to complete. Then make yourself externally accountable. And watch your to-do’s’ shrink as you conquer your task lists.
I hope it helps. See you soon.