"The best part about procrastination is that you are never bored because you have all kinds of things that you should be doing."
Secret Confession: I’m writing this with two hours to go until my vacation starts. Could I have done it sooner? Sure. But see, I started, and then I decided to Google “procrastination quotes” for my opener, and that led me to tons of hilarious procrastination memes, and several other articles written by others—and before I knew it, I had to head to a meeting and then it was lunchtime and now here I am, with two hours to go, frantically writing.
Procrastination? You could say I’m an expert.
No matter how passionate you are about your small business dreams, I’m willing to bet that you occasionally (always?) fall prey to the evils of procrastination.
After all, the evil vortex of social media exerts a powerful pull, and despite that eight-hour Netflix binge you’ve not yet caught up on Game of Thrones and did you see that latest cute cat video that Mike shared?
Not to mention the stack of dishes that needs to be done and the three hours of vital research on the best brand of new coffee maker (after all, you have to take care of your team).
Really, it’s a wonder anyone gets anything done.
Even the most driven and focused among us are not immune to the seductive power of that urgent pull to do…well…anything other than the thing we should definitely be doing.
Why do we do it? It’s biology baby.
Not only does the short-term pleasure of binge watching Netflix release a surge of almost irresistible dopamine, but this actually changes the neural structure of your brain, making that behavior more likely to recur. Add to that the fact that scientists have discovered that some people (no, we aren’t pointing fingers) are predisposed to impulsive acts AND procrastination.
All of which gives you the perfect excuse to say, ”My brain made me do it!”
So—it’s perfectly justifiable and biologically based—but that doesn’t help when you have a business to run, clients to serve, and a team of employees or contractors depending on you.
Some things actually have to get done. On time. Every time.
What’s a procrastinator to do?
Start by identifying your procrastination triggers.
Read the following list of common reasons compiled by AmEx Open Forum for putting off important tasks. Do any (or all) of these resonate?
1. Fear: Whether it is of failure or success, fear can immobilize even the most determined entrepreneur, making your Facebook feed way more enticing than looking at your business finances.
2. Exhaustion: Burnout is common among small biz owners. You’ve got a lot on your plate, and sometimes the length of your to-do list makes you want to run and hide.
3. Lack of Confidence: If the project at hand falls outside your zone of genius you may be putting off those tough but important tasks.
4. Squirrel!: We could call this one shiny object syndrome. Distractions are impossible to avoid, and it can be difficult to keep your blinders on.
5. Competition: When it’s time to get down to business, sometimes all the rest of what needs to be done can flood your brain and steal your focus. Unlike shiny objects, these items do demand your attention—just not right now.
6. Multi-step chaos: Complex projects with countless tasks and subtasks can quickly feel too big to ever complete, which is right about when Netflix starts her siren song.
7. Discomfort: When a task involves a difficult or uncomfortable memory or emotion, it can be easy to come up with reasons to stall.
One or two of those hit home? Okay, so you’re human. Now let's figure out what to do about it.
Check out this list of eight of our most popular productivity related blog posts below and find the right solution for you.
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You know that old saying, “Fail to plan and plan to fail”? Perhaps they actually meant plan to procrastinate. In this post, Jenny Shih explains how planning can put an end to avoidance tactics and get you moving.
Instead of cat videos, plan your next procrastination period to include these six TED talks filled with unique ideas for helping you be more productive. Bonus, this is one time your procrastination might actually pay off!
4. Start dreaming to start doing
This is one blog that won’t tell you to get your head out of the clouds. In this post, Keap Dream Manager Dan Ralphs discusses how dreaming can actually make you more productive.
5. Begin with the big goal, not the task at hand
Sam Bennett is one of our favorite people in the history of ever. In this video, Sam shares her procrastination-beating secret—and it’s all about finding a way that works for you.
6. Simplify, simplify
Sometimes (okay, a lot of the time) procrastination can be a response to an overly cluttered and complicated life. Read to find out five tips from Master Life Coach Anna Kunnecke.
Guess what? You don’t have to do it all! Once you get over the sheer relief of that, head over and catch up on five great sites to help you get the help you need. Not only will this help with your procrastination, but you’ll free up time to focus on the things that matter.
In order to stick to your to-do list, you’ve got to make sure you’re creating one. Check out this post for a system that will have you mastering your to-do list for good.