Procrastination can be a challenge for us as entrepreneurs. Nobody is telling us what to do or when. If you’re guilty of having a little business ADD, while it’s not a diagnosable condition, it causes some problems in your business. Deadlines from your team are missed, things don’t happen as smoothly, you sit on an idea forever without much movement.
As I’ve sat down to write this, I was trying to close down my email. I was reluctantly putting my phone down and close out of instagram. Maybe I should check it again because I might have more notifications, more likes on that picture that I just posted. Oh and I have to go and check my email because maybe a client needs me. Have you ever had this happen?
Why Procrastination Happens + What to do about it
There are a few common reasons why you might find yourself procrastinating. Knowing which one it is can help you to bust through it so you can manage it.
You think something is going to be hard or uncomfortable.
As humans we’re used to avoiding pain and discomfort. If we’re not going to be good at something or if it’s not simple, you might have a tendency to turn away from it. If this is your reason for procrastination, try giving yourself an incentive. If you complete a certain task or a certain amount of time dedicated to a task, you’ll reward yourself. You don’t need to do the whole project at once!
You’d rather be doing something else or something is distracting you.
There are a lot of things we’re constantly doing. There’s always something vying for our attention. So when you have to buckle down and get something done, it’s no wonder your brain is in a million other places than the task at hand. It’s important to get anything that’s really pressing out of your head. If it’s overwhelming and you really can’t focus, go take care of it or write down what you need to remember to complete the task later so you can shift your focus. When you’re ready to get to business, close the tabs, turn your social media off and do something that helps to center you (some people like meditation or doing a quick brain dump).
You think it’s going to take you 1 hour, when it actually might take 10.
You’re constantly finding yourself underestimating how long something will take you. And at the last minute (or minutes before your client expects an email) you’re rushing to try and get things done. Try this: Give yourself fake deadlines that give you tons of room for delay and a buffer.
You’re super focused on getting results NOW and struggle with focusing on the gains later. You want to see results right now and when the work gets tough and you don’t see immediate results, you have a tendency of quitting “for now” and don’t get back to the task until an external pressure is placed on you. Even though it’s hard, practicing
You want something to be perfect.
You have started the project about a dozen times. It’s fully formed in your head. It’s almost complete but it’s not quite done. You can’t send the email off to the client and so you’re dragging your feet. Your perfectionism is getting in your way. You fear that your idea or what’s in your head might better than what you might actually create so you hesitate. Try this: pretend that nobody is going to care about the tiny details you’re obsessing over. My challenge to you is to create something to completion; then spend time tweaking it after it’s done. Whether it’s your website, course, book, new project, get the first version done and you can spend time fine-tuning it!
Your mental and emotional health get in the way of you getting things done.
This is a serious one. If you know you’ve been diagnosed and your mental or emotional health gets in the way of you running a business, I hope you are able to get professional support. Whether you have a diagnosis or not, thought, we aren’t immune to negative self-talk or the doubt inducing feelings as entrepreneurs. That loud nagging voice tells you that you’re not good enough, that you’re in over your head, “who am I to…” These feelings stop you from doing the work then the inaction makes you feel even worse. When you’re spiraling downward, give yourself a ton of compassion. I know, it’s hard to remember so start with a big breath. Breathe in grace and compassion and breathe out judgment and self-doubt. Quit judging yourself for procrastinating. You’re not a bad person for pushing something off, even if it’s a bad habit.
You fear the outcome.
Fear of failure and fear of success is a real thing! You’re scared that before you put it out there it will upset somebody, that your product won’t sell, that it will go so well you’ll have to hire a whole bunch of people and you just don’t know how to do all that! No matter what it is you fear, it’s getting in the way of you pursuing your dream. Of course there’s a chance that what you fear is going to be true, but when was the last time you were pleasantly surprised that what you were scared of was actually pretty silly? Try this: What would you do if you didn’t fear the outcome? Think through what life would look like, what you’d accomplish if it weren’t for your fear. I’ll bet you get started on your project.
You have a rebellious streak.
You know this about yourself – you don’t like to be told what to do or when to do it. So having set deadlines doesn’t really matter to you. You like to do things on your own terms. Give yourself a big picture goal of what you’d like to have accomplished by the end of a month, rather than saying you need to get things done now, having an idea of what you might work on without a pressing time constraint should allow enough leeway for your rebel tendencies!
You don’t know how to start.
It feels so overwhelming to think of actually completing the project and so you procrastinate. When you’re dreaming about the project, you’re enticed by how fun it would be to have it completed, you get excited about what the result might do for you and your business. When you sit down to actually do the work, you get super overwhelmed by how much work it’s going to take, how big the project is, and how daunting it is. And so you stall. Instead of worrying about all the work, try this out: think about the project as a cluster of smaller projects, pieces of which you can complete today! Another pro tip if you like scheduling your tasks, you can assign a piece of a project for a particular hour block in your calendar!
A quick peptalk before we go:
Your ideas are worth the hard work it will take to achieve the dream. You also have more ideas than you have time so think about how the project you pursue aligns with the life or business goals you have. And believe you can, because you will.