Beating procrastination means that you can be more productive at work and when you’re working for yourself this is particularly important, because as we all know, time is money. The good news is that you can learn to avoid procrastination so here are some handy tips for you to try if you are a seriously afflicted self employed procrastinator.
1. Make a choice
Quite often you feel resentful when you have a lot to do and so you avoid doing it. This feeling of resentment can be sub-conscious. What you need to do is bring the thoughts into your conscious and CHOOSE to do something. You must realise that you always have a choice. You can choose to do your tax return or you can choose not to. You can choose to tidy up last month’s figures or you can choose not to. You can choose to make that awkward phone call or you can sit and worry about it. At the end of the day once you have made a conscious decision to do something, do it!
Listen to the words of the Jedi here!
Always with you it cannot be done. Do you hear nothing that I say? You must unlearn what you have learned. Do or do not. There is no try.
2. Make your choice meaningful
You will have business goals and you should think about how your choices (to do paperwork, make phonecalls, pay bills etc.) fit into those important goals. Do you want your business to succeed? If yes, then do it!3. Turn it off!
Turn off your phone. Shut down the tabs. Ask your partner/ sibling/ parent/ spouse to change your Facebook password. Get rid of all potential distractions. If you have no-one to nag you about your web surfing you could try using a software tool called The Productivity Owl here http://www.productivityowl.com/ This handy little app gives you a certain number of seconds or minutes to visit a website. It will then shut the tab down without so much as a by your leave. Gotta love how bossy it is! And so ridiculously cute. Go on, you know you want to try it!
4. Break your tasks up into steps
It may be that you don’t know where to start. Perhaps you are overwhelmed by what you have to do. If you’ve created a long ‘to do’ list and you can’t get started this may be the problem you are having. The solution is simple. Don’t think about anything except the first thing that you need to do. That might be to find the letter from HMRC or it might be to locate a phone number. Once you know exactly what the first task will be, do it.5. Take the next step
After you’ve taken the first step, think about nothing except what you need to do next. Access the HMRC website or pick up the phone. Then onto the next step: log in or dial. And on you go. Think about nothing except the step that you need to take NOW.
6. Don’t fear
Being paralysed by fear of something that may or may not happen is counterproductive. You may be worried about getting something wrong or failing, or you may be worried that you’ll make a fool of yourself. This is entirely possible but no wonder you can’t get on with anything. It’s equally as likely that everything will be plain sailing and you’ll be brilliant. Try envisaging that and get on with what you need to do.7. Bribe yourself
If you can get the form filled in/ the phone call made/ the desk cleared/ the paperwork filed etc. etc. promise yourself a nice cup of tea and a biscuit. Do not reward yourself if you don’t complete the task. Hell no. With that in mind it’s best if you don’t promise yourself a trip to the loo after you’ve made the phone call.
8. Create a timetable
If you’re particularly anal about such things you could create a timetable or schedule that helps you plan when, where and how you’ll do something and how long you will do it for. Be aware however, that creating timetables and schedules can in itself be a form of procrastination, particulatly if you like doing such things. I speak from experience here.
9. The Pomodoro Technique
Pomodoro (you can Google it) is a timer. You basically decide on a task to be completed and then set your timer for, say, 25 minutes. You work like stink for 25 minutes and then when the timer goes off, you allow yourself a 5 minute break. After 4 of these sessions you can allow yourself a longer break.
10. Don’t worry about procrastinating
Ok, absurd I know, but procrastinating is not the end of the world. In many creative people procrastination allows time for reflection and play, and both of these are extremely important within the creative process.
11. Lack of motivation is itself a message
If you’re not feeling motivated this can be a sign that you are not happy with what you are doing. Perhaps running your own business is not for you? Do you need someone telling you what to do? Or do you love running a business but you want to be selling astronaut suits rather than wellington boots? Don’t keep your feet on the ground if your head is in the clouds. Do what appeals to you.
12. Do it now!
Seriously. What are you reading this for?
What are your favourite procrastination techniques? How do you stop procrastinating? Join the conversation on Facebook here :-).