Waiting for success = speeding toward failure
If I had to choose the most stubborn, ubiquitous, and effective obstacle to entrepreneurial success, my hands-down favorite would be procrastination.
According to Etymology Online, this word comes “directly from [the] Latin procrastinationem, ‘a putting off from day to day’.”
I guess that pretty well sums it up, doesn’t it? Although, in the case of all too many entrepreneurs, that “day to day” putting off can readily turn into “week to week”.
There are probably as many reasons for procrastinating as there are entrepreneurs suffering from this highly effective saboteur of success. Which of these ring true for you?
- You don’t know exactly how to start on a project, so you don’t start at all.
- You find the task tedious.
- You hope to avoid experiencing some uncomfortable emotion.
- You start to work on an important task but get distracted by something shinier, easier, or more “fun”.
- You don’t want to invest your time, energy, or money in the activity.
- You’re unwilling to choose between two courses of action because you can’t seem to figure out which is the “right” one.
I would bet money that most people reading (and writing) this would be able to clearly describe what it feels like to procrastinate. However, fewer people are willing to as clearly articulate just what it costs them to put things off.
The problem is this: If you’re not willing to acknowledge all the negative consequences of procrastination, you’re probably going to continue to shoot your business success in the foot in any (or all) of the following ways:
- hear your perfect prospect say, “Oh, we just hired someone to do that a couple of days ago!”
- lose the opportunity to address hundreds of your ideal clients by missing the deadline for submitting your speaker’s proposal
- increase expenses needlessly by signing up for events after the “early-bird” registration period
- drive people out of your sales funnel by failing to make effective use of technology
- undermine your confidence and personal power by allowing yourself to chicken out of what needs doing
Bottom line: Procrastination costs you money and threatens the long-term viability of your business. So what are you gonna do about it?
This is such a serious problem for so many talented entrepreneurs, I don’t want to skimp on addressing it. That’s why this post is the first in a series in which I share procrastination-fighting tools you can use to decrease your stress, increase your productivity, and boost your bottom line.
Brain dump and brainstorm.
This works especially well for those occasions when you’re so overwhelmed by a big project that you struggle to even get started.
Although this particular approach may be very challenging if you prefer linear thinking, I encourage you to try it anyway: Simply write out on a piece of paper (rather than type at your keyboard) everything you can think of that needs to be done to complete the project. At this point, don’t worry about putting anything in chronological order; just get it out of your head onto paper. You can even carry around a small notebook to jot down additional “gotta take care of that, too” ideas as they come to you.
This brain dump will benefit you in multiple ways.
- One, you no longer have to worry about forgetting any important bits, because you’ve written them down.
- Two, you’ll almost inevitably start to see how you can begin chunking down those tasks into small, manageable action steps – and that will go a huge way toward decreasing the feeling of overwhelm.
- Three, you’ll start to un-freeze your brain and begin thinking clearly about how to tackle the project most effectively.
- Four, you’ll be able to breathe a sigh of relief, because you’ve removed much of the looming fear associated with the unknown.
It’s really a good deal.
Productivity and procrastination don’t mix.
Give yourself permission to work on a tedious task in small chunks.
It’s inevitable that you’ll sometimes be faced with tasks you find tedious and which truly are best handled personally, rather than delegated.
In a situation like this, it’s better to accomplish some of the tasks rather than procrastinate on all of them, so try working on them for just 15 minutes (set a timer). I know from personal experience it’s pretty easy to turn that tedious activity into something almost fun by challenging yourself to see how many of those tasks you can get through before the timer goes off.
This method obviously can be applied to help you get through a backlog of those “I don’t wanna do it!” tasks. Equally obviously, it will do even more to enhance your productivity if you set aside a “timed tedious tasks” session every day so that you avoid the backlog in the first place.
So what’s been your experiencing in dealing with procrastination? How do you keep yourself moving forward instead of getting stuck in helpless indecision? These are not rhetorical questions! The more tools we all have for fighting demon procrastination, the more success we’ll all enjoy.
Or are you one of the top contenders for the title of World’s Greatest Procrastinator? If that sounds uncomfortably close to the truth, maybe I can help.
I specialize in showing overwhelmed and distracted entrepreneurs how to identify what’s slowing them down, toss that crap aside, and take purposeful action that WILL move them toward their important goals.
Is that something I can help you with? I don’t know…but I’m interested in finding out.
It’s easy to learn if we’d make a good team when it comes to kicking procrastination butt. All it takes is a phone call to figure out if each of us is a good fit for the other. That way, no one is committed to anything other than getting acquainted and making a decision she’s comfortable with, whether that decision is to jump right in or cordially say good-bye.
If that sounds worthwhile, you can set up that get-acquainted call by emailing me with “I’m not waiting any more” in the subject line. We’ll set up a time to talk and see what shakes out.
(By the way, thanks to QuotesEverlasting for posting Hunter Thompson’s pungent observation in the Creative Commons section of Flickr.)This entry was posted in effectiveness, productivity and tagged procrastination, take action. Bookmark the permalink.