It literally sucks the life out of your work. Enthusiasm drops. You feel uncertain.
It’s embarrassing, disheartening, and stress-inducing.
I should know. It took me two years to launch this business. I don’t even mean to make it profitable, I mean to actually open up shop.
Everyone procrastinates. Even those running successful businesses.
And people tell you to just get on with it, like all the problems in the world can be solved with a Nike slogan. And you think, if it were that simple, wouldn’t I be doing it already?
You would. It isn’t.
Problem is, you have to know the reason for your procrastination before you can uncover how to stop procrastinating.
Once you’ve figure out what’s holding you back, the floodgates will open. You’ll get productive, inspired and focused. You’ll make excellent business decisions, and you’ll enjoy waking up to work in your own business.
Put down that vacuum cleaner. Throw your smart phone in the bottom drawer for the next 6 minutes.
Let’s figure out how to stop procrastinating. Right now.
It's not your fault
You can jam that self-effacing excuse back in your pie-hole, I don’t wanna hear it.
You’re not bad.
You’re not stupid.
You’re not lazy.
You’re bright, intelligent, and very human. And right now, something’s in your way. Big deal. We’re gonna fix it, okay?
So just chill.
Be a bit nicer to yourself. The way through procrastination isn’t bashing your head against a wall. If punishing yourself worked, you’d have solved this already.
When I told you before that it took me over two years to start my business, here’s what I really meant:
I’d been helping small businesses make big changes and reap massive profits for well over 15 years. I’d been running my own businesses for over a decade. Before that I was employed as a marketing manager and marketing specialist for several companies.
Suffice to say, I knew my shit. I was already freelancing with small businesses on the down low, but transforming that offering into an official business, what?!
I was successful, accomplished and smart. But I just couldn’t bite the bullet.
What procrastination looks like
When you think of procrastination, I bet you think of things like watching Netflix, flicking through Instagram or even cleaning the house.
But why stop there? There’s so many more ways to procrastinate! And many of them look deceptively productive.
I found heaps of productive-seeming ways to procrastinate instead of making big moves on my business. Perhaps you’ll recognize some of these as your own:
- Busying your time doing favours for other people
- Working on side projects or hobbies
- Spending more time with family
- Working on your business social media schedule
- Checking your inbox and responding to new mail
It’s worth noting that we all procrastinate differently.
I’d rather write a new business article than sink my teeth into my taxes. You might prefer writing emails to packing orders.
Truth is, anything can be used as a tool for procrastination. Even worthwhile activities. Busy hands are just as evil as idle ones.
Why do you procrastinate?
There are four main reasons people procrastinate.
As you read through them, see what hits home for you. Pay attention to your gut, trust your inner knowing. You might react with immediate recognition.
Or you might feel a strong negative reaction, like being repelled by the idea. Pay particular attention to that, it may be a sneaky truth for you.
If several of the possibilities resonate for you, that’s ok too.
Chances are, you’ve built up clever procrastinating tools over time. And the quickest path to learn how to stop procrastinating is to recognise the cause.
So which one fits you?
Have you got a brimming to-do list? Feel like you can never quite get a grip on your business? When you’re overwhelmed, it’s easy to lose sight of the real work. In fact, it’s easier to focus on the little things, to try and cross some tiny tasks off your list. Trouble is, those tiny tasks have little real effect. They’re just distractions from the more important work.
Or perhaps you’re frozen solid. Either you can’t figure out where to begin, or the idea of diving in sets your flight-mode off so quick you can’t catch it in time. What if I get it wrong? What if I look like an idiot? What if it fails terribly? Who am I to try and do this? I’m not experienced enough. I’m not smart enough. I just.. can’t. Sound familiar?
You’ve let outside factors control your choices. Do you prioritise other people? Your kids? Your partner? Your employees? What about house-cleaning, bill-paying, or Facebook? Technology and social media are big culprits. If you let notifications, pings, texts, alerts, phone calls and new mail run your business, it’s pretty darn impossible to get real work done.
YOU'RE OFF PATH
Sometimes you just feel a bit ‘meh’. It’s that shoulder-shrugging feeling of nothing being obviously wrong. You can’t quite pinpoint why, but you feel a bit melancholy about work. You’ve lost interest, or never had it in the first place. When that lasts for a while, it can mean that you’re not doing what you really want to be doing. So procrastination makes it look like you can’t get started, when really, you shouldn’t get started in that direction at all.
How to end procrastination
The key to moving past procrastination is this:
Don’t do what you’d normally do.
So if you usually respond by trying to ‘get a handle’ on the small tasks, don’t. Scrub them off your to-do list entirely. Ignore them and bite a tiny chunk into the real work.
If you usually allow distractions to take your attention, take preventative action. Delete apps. Turn notifications off. Put your phone on silent. Or turn the damn thing off.
Or if you usually freeze up, do the opposite. Do SOMETHING. Anything. Just start somewhere. Anywhere. It doesn’t really matter. You’ll adjust as you go.
Makes sense right? You can’t learn how to stop procrastinating without doing something different.
And if you feel like there’s something deeper going on, like maybe you’re on the wrong path, the same advice applies. Don’t do what you’d normally do. If you’d normally flit from idea to idea, don’t. Stick it through. Or if you’d usually stick it through despite unhappiness, quit with a damn big smile.
You learn how to stop procrastinating when you take ownership of the why and the how. Then you defeat it by doing something different from your automatic response.
Procrastination is definitely sneaky.
We all experience it in some areas of our life and at different times. I think it’s most important not to beat yourself up over it. After all, that’s what you’ve been doing so far. How’s that working out for you, huh?
Instead, get familiar with how procrastination shows up in your life – the sorts of activities you tend to do instead of the real work. Pay attention to what feels is at the heart of the procrastination.
Nobody knows you like you.
Nobody can tell you why you’re procrastinating. Only you.
Be bravely, beautifully honest with yourself. Your business has the potential to improve in massive strides when you break through your procrastination. You come out the other side motivated, inspired, certain and productive.
And you deserve to let yourself move past procrastination. Business can be superb for you. You are the right person. This is the right time. You’re on the right track.
Now go and do something different.
HI, I'm SARAH
I’m here to help you work smarter, not harder. I teach passionate business owners how to charge premium prices, attract the best customers, save time and make money with ease.