Hands up… Have you ever fallen victim to the dreaded procrastination?
We all get stuck. We know we need to get tasks and projects done, but we just keep putting them off. With that putting off comes a sense of disappointment, frustration, and feeling overwhelmed. We’re certainly busy, but not productive!
I say “we all” because I’m just as likely to experience this as anyone else, and I have worked for years on finding the right strategies to combat it. By doing so, it has made it easier for me to help my clients who struggle with the same issues. We work together to find strategies and tools to help them through it and beat the procrastination.
When you work for yourself, and especially by yourself, procrastination is likely to run rife, creating havoc and a whole load of feelings you don’t want to be dealing with!
Top tips for tackling procrastination
- Get organised. It’s really hard when you’re surrounded by ‘mess’ – either actual physical clutter, or when you don’t know where you’re supposed to be and when. You will waste time simply by now knowing what’s happening next or where things are. Get everything in order, know where you’re going, and how much time you have.
- Do your planning. I love a good plan! Without the planning it’s so hard to do the doing! I’m a huge fan of regular planning, reviewing and tweaking to make things happen. We all need a system that works for us. Some people do it with a digital system. Others need a pen and paper. But however it works for you, writing down what you want to achieve, and the next few steps of how to get there are essential! Once you’ve got those you need to create set times to action them.
- Break things down. You’re organised. You feel like you’ve done your planning. But are you still batting those tasks from page to page of your diary? If so, it all needs breaking down. I see clients who complain they just can’t get these tasks done on their to-do list all the time. When we take a closer look I often see something like “Do website”, or “write blogs”. A task like that is actually a project. And projects need to be broken into tiny steps. What happens when you look at “Do Website” is you have no idea where to start, it feels completely overwhelming, and so you go and check social media again or make a cup of tea, because you know how to do that!
- Remove Distractions. It takes a whopping 45 minutes to start concentraining again after being distracted by a notification on your phone or answering a call. A sure-fire way to lose time. When you’re responding to the notifications or calls, you’re procrastinating, and it is going to cost you time and efficiency. So, read my next tip, then choose your timings, turn off the notifications and get your head down… then you can reward yourself!
- Work in timed chunks. Working for ourselves also means that we can be resistant to following a particular timed pattern. We want freedom and the ability to set our own timings, but this can at times make us rebellious. The outcome is that we feel we don’t have enough time – but generally it’s because we’re mis-using the time we have! This resistance is extremely common, but there is a better way that takes you less time. A wise woman told me that “discipline equals freedom”. She is absolutely right. When you look at the time you have available, work out when you don’t want to be working, and then fit the work into timed chunks. 45 minutes is an ideal working slot. Set a timer, turn off notifications and get your head down. When the timer goes off, take a break for 10 minutes. Make a cup of tea. Get some fresh air and move your body. You’ll feel refreshed before your next task.
Tell us. Do you struggle with procrastination? If so, try out some (or all!) of the tips above. Then let us know how you get on in the comments. If you feel like you need some more support, check out our Time module – we’ve got it all covered!