On Friday I challenged attendees at a networking group to identify the biggest obstacle to progress in developing their businesses, I wasn’t really surprised that procrastination ranked highly.
What are you putting off?
My dictionary defines to procrastinate as ‘to put off (an action) until later, delay’ from the Latin procrastinare ‘to postpone until tomorrow’. Tomorrow never comes so sometimes we never do the things that we need to do for our businesses to thrive!
So why do we procrastinate?
We are all different and we procrastinate about different things for different reasons but some of those we admitted to include, calling prospects and customers, invoicing and administration, making decisions, exercising, dieting, marketing, trying out social media and more…
“If you want to make an easy job seem mighty hard, just keep putting off doing it.” ~Olin Miller
Reasons for procrastinating included fear of rejection, boredom, fear of making a fool of ourselves, the unknown, fear of loss, fear of making the wrong choice, uncertainty, questioning our self worth, having more exciting things to do and more. Sometimes we don’t even recognise why we are procrastinating. We procrastinate even when we know that it amounts to self-sabotage! There’s an interesting article about why we procrastinate here http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200507/why-we-procrastinate
What do we have to gain from procrastination?
We might tell ourselves that procrastinating will lead to better decisions, that we work better under pressure and that ideas will come if we give them time. Aren’t we just kidding ourselves? True, from time to time inspiration may strike when we’ve given it time or something we’ve been putting off may no longer be necessary but most of the time we will have wasted time or opportunities.
What do we have to lose from procrastination?
Procrastination leads to lost opportunities and increased stress. Tasks take on increased proportions the longer we put them off. We can lose sleep worrying about what we haven’t done and our relationships with our customers, colleagues and nearest and dearest can be adversely affected. Procrastination can cost us business so how we can avoid it?
“Procrastination is opportunity’s natural assassin.” ~Victor Kiam
So how can we avoid procrastinating?
“Telling someone who procrastinates to buy a weekly planner is like telling someone with chronic depression to just cheer up,” Dr. Joesph Ferrari.
As an expert procrastinator I don’t have all the answers here but here are some of the things that work for me:
- making a commitment to someone I care about to get the job done
- making the dreaded task the first one of the day and setting a time to do it in
- finding someone to help me with a task I’ve been dreading or not liking
- breaking the task down into small parts and making a start on one that seems more appealing
- rewarding myself at pre-determined points for example 20 minutes reading when I’ve done an hour on the task, a glass of wine when it is complete!
Take action now!
So if this article has resonated with you because of that task you’ve been putting off let me challenge you to take some action now. Pick up that phone, get on that computer, put away that biscuit, find your trainers, make that decision! No excuses!
I know that today is a Bank Holiday here in the UK and that the kids are off for half term so if you genuinely can’t take action today make a commitment to taking it on your next working day. Write it in your diary. Pin a post it note to the fridge, the computer and the front door. Make a commitment here.
I know that whenever I take the action I’ve been putting off the relief is palpable. The task was never as big or as onerous as I thought and the sense of achievement when it’s done is well worth celebrating.
I’m off to to tidy my office and then to do some administration. I’m taking my own advice today! Good luck with doing that task that you’ve been putting off but if you need some help why not book a free 30 minute telephone consultation and let’s unblock those obstacles. Book here.