We’ve all been to Procrastination City, that unfortunate place where we put off big tasks we don’t particularly want to tackle or small tasks we don’t enjoy doing – even though we know they need to be done.
But when running a small business, we simply can’t afford procrastination, the thief of time, to take over. Some jobs must be done to keep the business going (and profits flowing).
Here are 7 tips to keep procrastination at bay.
Do the most challenging job first
This is often weirdly referred to as ‘eating the frog’. Doing the most important and challenging job first thing and getting it out of the way can be super motivating (as well as satisfying). It will also clear the way for you to execute all those smaller, easier-to-do tasks throughout the rest of the day.
Naturally, you’ll need to identify your ‘frog’ before you can eat it! So knowing what you need to do and prioritizing tasks is an essential first step.
If you have a big task or project, or one that you can do over time, then chunk it down by dividing tasks into smaller ones; this way, you can chip away at it. You’ll be surprised what you can achieve over time.
There’s a wonderful quote, attributed to both Bill Gates and Tony Robbins, that mutually encapsulates the essence of ‘eating the frog’ and ‘chunking down’, so it is well worth remembering. It goes something like this; ‘Most people overestimate what they can do in a day but underestimate what they can in a month’. Likewise, they overestimate what they can do in a year but underestimate what they can achieve in a decade.
So by nipping these two factors in the bud, you’ll be making good progress every day.
You’ll be surprised how quickly you can get things done when you have a deadline to work towards. This is especially the case when you know you won’t get paid if you don’t do the task – freelancers, take note!
However, in the same way that chunking down can help beat procrastination, having several deadlines for specific parts of your project can also be motivating and move it along more quickly.
When we have just one looming deadline, we tend to either assume we have more time than we do or leave everything until the last minute and then panic. Students without a study plan revising for exams will know this feeling well!
So have mini deadlines – and reward yourself when you complete each one.
Minimizing distractions can help boost your focus and productivity.
This may involve switching off notifications on your mobile device (or even considering a lockbox for your smartphone) or decluttering your workspace so you can focus on the task at hand. But just make sure you don’t turn organizing your workspace into a procrastination activity in itself.
Social media is a big time suck for most people too. So be disciplined with your time on these ‘time bandit’ platforms and recognize when you are procrastinating and dilly-dallying.
Having said that, be sure to make time for plenty of scheduled breaks too. During this time, relax, go for a walk, have a comfort break or do something energizing such as a 5-minute workout. It may sound counter-intuitive, but having a fresh, clear mind ensures you are focused in the long run.
Make use of online tools
While some smartphone apps can be distractions, others are super useful for getting things done, organizing your day and performing time-consuming tasks that you like to put off.
For those tedious but super important admin tasks, for example, sending invoices and getting paid–use online tools such as Invoice Ninja.
Invoice Ninja is a leading free invoicing software for small business invoicing, online payments, tracking expenses and billable tasks. It makes invoicing simple and easy and lets your clients pay you with just one click.
Don’t take on more than you can handle
Knowing your capacity and how long tasks take are all part of good time management.
It can be tempting to take on extra work and clients, but if you take on more than you can handle, you’ll end up overwhelmed, which will inevitably lead to procrastination.
In other words, don’t make promises you can’t keep and learn the power of saying ‘No’.
Action beats perfection
Don’t try to be perfect.
Not completing (or starting) tasks as they don’t align with your idea of perfection is a ‘winner-winner chicken dinner’ for procrastination but a real killer for productivity and not a good use of your time.
Taking action will always be the first line of defense against procrastination.
So if there’s a task you are delaying. Do it. And do it now! You’ll feel so much better for it.