The Merriam-Webster dictionary describes the word procrastination as “intentionally putting off doing something that should be done.” It comes from the Latin word procrastinatus, meaning “forward till tomorrow” or “put off till tomorrow.” As business owners we need to understand procrastination and recognize it so that we can combat any unwanted episodes.
Procrastination, why do we do it?
According to Dr. Ferrari and Timothy Pychyl’s research, 20% of adult Americans admit to being chronic procrastinators. He says, “Everyone procrastinates, but not everyone is a procrastinator.” It is a learned behaviour based on people’s ability to regulate themselves and can be a challenging thing to change. Fear of failure and success, perfectionism, risk taking, self esteem, anxiety, depression, and OCD all play roles in the process of procrastinating, however so do excuses. If not addressed it can affect your health, relationships and your career.
Procrastination is self sabotaging behaviour that causes us to lie to ourselves. “I have plenty of time” or “It’s not that urgent” are the fibs we entertain to justify our defiance, boredom, or laziness. Our perception becomes skewed and our productivity plummets. Edward Young, a poet from the 1700’s said “Procrastination is the thief of time”. Ultimately there is nothing more valuable than your time and using it to its full potential will bring upon feelings of accomplishment which can turn into inspiration.
Ways to avoid procrastinating
1. Make your bed, don’t lie in it
Productivity gives birth to a sense of accomplishment which morphs into inspiration. If you can create those feelings from the moment you wake up in the morning, you will be in a great space to keep the ball rolling all day. These baby steps can start with waking up the same time every morning and making your bed. What is the very first thing inspected in the morning in the Military? Right, the bed. Once you accomplish this tiny, simple task you put the flow of self worth into motion. Your need to do more will snowball. If you are already disciplined in your morning routine, try to find something similar and work on that. Remember it needs to be a small task, these are called micro goals.
2. Be organized
If you are organized you will have less time to write lists, faff around and feel indecisive. Know what you will be doing the next day before you go to bed and make sure you are seeing the plan often throughout the day. It is wasted time to write a list on your phone, but never look to see what’s on it. Seeing the list on your desk is a constant reminder of the things that need to be done and gives you the chance to prioritize.
3. Remove all distractions
Commit to checking your emails and social media only before or after you begin a task. You can use it as a reward, which gives you something to look forward to. Since you’re the boss it’s easy to stray from discipline because there’s no one pushing the urgency. Maybe you tend to opt for housework the days you work from home or you prolong conversations just to have a few extra moments of procrastination. Whatever your distractions may be, clear them away to make room for what needs to be done.
4. Begin the project with all the things you enjoy
When you do the things you enjoy the “feel good” hormone called Dopamine is released into your body. Once you are feeling great you’ll notice that the tasks you don’t necessarily like are easier to do. Your attitude towards the entire project changes by making the fun part important.
5. Shoot for the stars: Visualize
So we all need micro goals in order to ignite the flame of inspiration, however we need a dream to focus on that will push us towards our long term macro goals too. Keep yours eyes on the prize, this will keep you focused on each step you have to take to reach your goal. Visualize the process and outcome of your goal and you will lower anxiety about the tasks at hand. Remember your goals should always be SMART.
If you still find yourself procrastinating more than you’d like, try to get small things accomplished rather than packing it in and loafing on the couch. Those small things will manifest into motivation and keep the energy flowing. Any wasted time can mean missed opportunities and those can be detrimental to your business.