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The 5 Strategies I Use To Beat Procrastination

The 5 Strategies I Use To Beat Procrastination

“Tomorrow is often the busiest day of the week.”
~ Spanish Proverb

The dictionary definition of procrastination is this:

The action of delaying or postponing something.

If you’re anything like most business owners I know, you’ve experienced procrastination.

Most likely when you attempt to do something that will move your business forward. Common tasks that you might find yourself procrastinating on include: marketing, writing copy, creating new products and services and/or doing your outreach (cultivating connections across your network).

When we delay or postpone taking action on the very activities that will help us move our business forward, we are, in essence, sabotaging our chances of success. Overcoming procrastination, therefore, becomes an important endeavour.

Whilst I do still procrastinate from time to time, over the years I’ve learned various ways to minimise and even prevent procrastination from derailing my best efforts.

 

1. Pay attention

Procrastination is one of most insidious companions to our attempts at productivity. It’s pretty common for procrastination to rear its ugly head the moment we try to do something productive or creative in our business.

If we’re not careful, procrastination becomes such an embedded feature of our day to day working lives, that we don’t always notice when we’re in its grips.

Raising awareness of the fact that we’ve slipped into procrastination mode and doing what we can to understand what lies beneath it is the first step to overcoming it.

When you notice that you’re procrastinating, try reflecting on what your procrastination is trying to tell you. Is there fear around the activity you are trying to undertake? Is there a reason you’re avoiding taking action.

Acknowledge the procrastination instead of giving into the habit of it is key.

Another line of enquiry you might take is to reflect on the importance of what you are trying to do, in essence, asking yourself, what are the consequences of allowing procrastination to win here?

The key is to not let procrastination become a habit. Notice the way it shows up for you and recognise when you’re dealing with procrastination to get better at overcoming it.

 

2. Block out time

When we’re not yet fully booked with clients, we often have a lot of time on our hands to work on our business. This should be a blessing but more often than not it becomes fertile ground for procrastination to bloom. I wrote about the consequences of too much freedom here.

My advice is to not give yourself hours to do something. Give yourself a deadline. No more than 90 minutes in one sitting — start shorter if you are not used to time-blocking.

For example, I block out most of Monday to work on content creation but I make sure I have regular breaks and clear actions for each chunk of time. Block #1 might be dedicated to drafting my newsletter, block #2 to getting it to a final draft and block #3, sourcing a picture quote, one last proofread and sending it out.

It’s far easier to avoid procrastination if I give myself 3 x 1 hour blocks with clear goals in each than to simply give myself all morning to write a newsletter.

 

3. Plan ahead

Don’t sit down at your desk to work unless you know what you are going to do or you’ll waste the time you’ve allocated trying to figure out what to work on.

This is especially important if you’ve got a lot of time each day to work on a high number of things (i.e. a long to do list!). I like to give myself no more than 3 tasks to complete per day and I plan these either the night before or first thing in the morning before I get into things.

Having a huge to do list plus countless hours ahead of you to work on things is a recipe for procrastination, so avoid it by doing the thinking before you sit down to do the working.

 

4. Work with others

Something that has helped me massively while working on my business is co-working. I find that if left to my own devices, it’s all too easy to get distracted and fall into a pattern of procrastination but when working with others, I get so much more done.

Co-working works especially well for me when I get to declare what I’m hoping to achieve (planning ahead) in the session (blocking out time) and when I have to report back at the end of the session how I got on (accountability).

Co-working can be done in person or online. My favourite online co-working tools are: The CabinFlownLWS and Focusmate.

 

5. Take regular breaks

If you stack blocks of working time together without breaks, it’s as good as not blocking out time at all. The key is to have full breaks between your working sessions.

My mantra when it comes to being productive in my business is to “Work when you are working and rest when you are resting.”

Problems arise when we sit at our desk and engage in procrastination activities, like scrolling on social media or mindlessly searching the internet. We come to blur the line between working and procrastinating. If I catch myself doing this I immediately stop and take a break.

Taking a break for me means stepping away from my desk and going to do something completely unrelated to work. This might be watching something on TV, reading a book or taking a short walk to clear my head.

When we don’t do this the boundaries between work and breaks become blurred, impairing our ability to focus when we’re working and impairing our ability to really switch off from work when we’re on a break.

And there you have it, 5 things I do on the regular to stay productive, avoid procrastination and ultimately have a better work-life balance.

Did you find these helpful? I’d love to know which of these you might try. If you want to let me know simply comment and tell me!

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