Love, sadness, anger, joy, procrastination.
All of these feelings are universal feelings in that we’ve all experienced them. Yet, one of these things is not like the other, in that it can be totally avoided.
Yeah, you guessed it – I’m talking about procrastination. We all do it.
Whether it’s starting your taxes the day before they’re due, doing the laundry because you’ve run out of underwear or putting off a difficult conversation with a friend, we’ve all been there.
However, when you procrastinate things on your professional to-do list, your business and bottom line suffer.
Why we do it varies. Where laundry and taxes are concerned, it’s because they suck. Where a big project is concerned, it might be because it’s overwhelming and you don’t know where to start. Other times it’s because those voices in our head are telling us a crappy untrue story that we aren’t enough or our idea sucks and we are letting it win.
Whatever the reason, you are in control. You can stop procrastinating right this very minute.
Check out some of my best tips to stop procrastinating!
Just get started. I know, duh. It sounds rudimentary and it is, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. For all those reasons above, it’s hard. Beating the voices, feeling overwhelmed or the task is just plain sucky means we don’t start, we sit in limbo. Write down ONE THING you can do to get the project started, (put the laundry in a basket and take it to the laundry room) commit to doing that ONE THING today and then make it happen.
Create a list of small chunks for the next steps. Let’s face it, some tasks on your list might just be more daunting than others. The trick with these is to break down a big project into smaller pieces so you can realistically chip away at it. Break them down into steps you know you can actually get done. Put boxes next to each step so that you can check each step off. It feels so good to check those boxes and will motivate you to keep going.
Front load your to-do list. How do you feel at 3 pm versus 9 am? You’re probably a bit busted, tired and generally unmotivated by the time mid-afternoon rolls around and no amount of coffee is gonna help. So set yourself up for success by front-loading your to-do list. Tackle your more annoying tasks first thing the morning and get them out of your way. Nothing is more motivating than getting shit done.
Reward yourself! Work is hard! Don’t forget to reward yourself when you are making progress on your to-do list. If there are ten things on your list, reward yourself when you get to five boxes checked and then again at ten. This is called positive reinforcement and it’s not just for puppy training.
Visualize your emotional success. High achievers love this trick. Instead of focusing on how much a project or task sucks, think about how you’ll feel once it’s completed. Focusing on the positive aspect of a chore is much more effective than wallowing on why it sucks.
Create accountability. If you work alone or remotely, you may be missing your deadlines because there is no one around to hold you accountable. Find a tribe and support each other. Create a private Facebook group and share your goals on a regular and consistent basis. Support and celebrate each other.
Befriend Deadlines. It can be hard to get work done when there’s no sense of urgency around it. But you have to create timelines and deadlines and treat them as non-negotiable. Set up calendar reminders and alarms for your deadlines – and absolutely no hitting snooze! EVER.
Change your work environment. Procrastination can also be a result of feeling generally unmotivated or that you’re in a rut. One of the best ways to shake this feeling is to change your work environment. Get out of the house and work from the library, a coffee shop or even a cool co-working space. Most co-working spaces will have super cheap intro offers or even let you try out their space for free!
Turn off your notifications. As much as we love and depend on social media as female entrepreneurs, it can be a productivity killer. Set some time apart in your day where there is no social media, whatsoever. That means turning off notifications and logging out. You’ll be surprised at how much you can get done when you’re not being pinged constantly with trivial updates. This includes email.
Have a plan! I have a three-step plan to keep me on track.
- I maintain a Master To-Dos list where I brain-dump every single item that I have to do. This is an on-going list I am continuously adding to. There is no organization to this list. It’s simply everything I write down as I create or remember a task that needs to be done.
- Each morning I move things from the Master To-Do List to my Daily To-Do List in order of priority. Must Do, Should Do, Could Do.
- Finally, I block out my time. I block out every single thing I need to do. I block out time for breaks, lunch, my Should Do tasks, meditation, time to get up and move around moments, prep dinner, etc. Everything for the day is blocked out. This keeps me focused on the tasks I need to do and not scrolling through social media or getting sucked into my emails.
I created a Simplified Daily Planner for myself to help me with this process! I am sharing it with you! Download it today and get yourself motivated and on track!
Follow these tips above and your productivity will be on the rise in no time.
It’s also super important to remember that it takes practice. The more often you flex your focus muscle, the easier it will be!