The other day, I had a task on my plate that I wasn’t looking forward to working on. It was something that was a little out of my ordinary. I wasn’t 100% sure on the best way to go about getting started. So, I checked my email and I made a cup of coffee. Then, I started cleaning out my email inbox and popped onto LinkedIn. When I had enough of that, I made a phone call that wasn’t really that important and worked on another project. Before I knew it, my work hours were over for the day and I had made no progress on that task I was supposed to be working on.
Can you relate?
I’ve noticed over the years, and from talking to entrepreneurs and business owners all over the world, that most people can relate. Procrastination knows no borders. It’s a global epidemic. So, know that you’re not alone. And, it happens both in our personal lives and our work lives.
You’re not the only one that decides to clean out your digital files when you’re supposed to be putting that proposal together for your biggest prospect. It happens to all of us. So, here are 6 tips to help you stop procrastinating on that project and start working towards your goals:
1. Why do we procrastinate?
The first step you need to take is determining why you’re procrastinating. And, no, you can’t just say it’s how you are or that you work best under pressure. The belief that you “work best under pressure” is a lie and I’m calling you out. In reality, we all work best with proper planning and giving ourselves enough time to make sure we’re thorough. Rushing at the last minute is a great way to make mistakes.
So, why are you procrastinating? There are three main reasons:
- You don’t know how to do what you need to do.
- You don’t want to do what you have to do.
- There’s fear around the task
It’s as easy as that. Once you know what your reason is, you’ll be able to see how you can apply the next few tips to take action.
2. Determine if you really need to do it
If you’ve been procrastinating like crazy on a project or task, there could be a chance that it doesn’t need to be done. This is why you don’t want to do it because you don’t see why it matters in the long run. If the task seems purposeless than the motivation to do the work isn’t going to be there.
So, spend a few minutes determining if it needs to be done and if you need to be the one to do it. If the task is something that does matter but someone else can do it, then delegate it. Why spend your energy avoiding doing a task that someone else could do. Teach an employee how to complete the task and let them take full ownership of it. Or, you can hire a freelancer to take care of it for you.
3. Do your research
If you realize that you’re procrastinating because you don’t know where to start or you’re missing information that you need to do a good job, then it’s time to focus on research. Before you jump into the nitty-gritty of the work, set a timer and focus on nothing but educating yourself on the topic. Hit the search engines. Head to the library. Call a contact that can point you in the right direction. Find out what you need to know.
But, here’s the key—don’t allow yourself to get stuck in the research.
“I’m still learning about it” is a popular myth that keeps people procrastinating. There comes a time when you’ve learned what you need to learn and it’s time to take action. Be honest with yourself. Do you really need to read another article on the same topic that you’ve just read 10 other articles on? Do you actually need a 7th statistic when the first 6 are saying the same thing? Nope, when this happens it’s most likely fear that’s continuing to hold you back.
4. Put a clear purpose around the task/project
If you’ve realized that you’re procrastinating because you just don’t want to do the task even though it needs to be done (and done by you) then you need to define the purpose. If that task actually has to be done then it must fit into your goals in some way, shape, or form.
It might seem like the most menial task, but it’s likely a teeny tiny part of something much bigger. Figure out what that bigger thing is and then start to focus on that goal and the results it will bring.
Using the SPEARity app is a great way to have an easy visual of how smaller tasks are working you towards bigger goals. When you see that the task you’re procrastinating on is directly tied to a quarterly goal you have, and that progress can’t increase until you do it, it can help you muster up the determination and discipline to get it done
5. Get some accountability
Some of us are great at having internal accountability. If we tell ourselves that we’re going to do something then we’re going to do it. Others of us (me included) benefit greatly from outside accountability. It helps us to know that there is someone else waiting for us and depending on us to do the things on our lists.
If you fall into the second group then it becomes your responsibility to build that outside accountability into your life. It could be telling your spouse and children that you’re going to go for a run 5 days a week and asking them to help you stick to your goal. Or, it could be hiring a business coach that’s going to help you track the progress you’re making.
When you know that you’re going to have to report to someone on where your progress stands it can be just the thing you need to get your butt moving.
6. Overcome those fears
There are a ton of fears that hold us back but most of them boil down to fear of not being “enough”. We’re worried about what others will think of us. We worry if our work is going to be at the quality level that it needs to be. We’re afraid of failure and sometimes afraid of success.
This can stop us from working on the things that we need to work on. One of the best tips that I’ve heard over the years on combatting this is from SPEARity’s own CEO, Darren Fisher. He taught me the value of tracking my successes and realigning my failures.
By keeping a running list of things that are going right, it helps me work up the confidence to keep going. And, when I first started this process, and still on some more recent days, my successes were tiny. But those tiny successes snowball into larger ones. And, tracking my failures and thinking through how to do things differently so I can succeed in that area helped show me that failure isn’t final and it doesn’t have to be detrimental. We all fail on a regular basis and those that are willing to accept it and learn from it are the ones that are able to move on towards success.
What’s your one thing?
I have a sneaking suspicion that you already know what the one thing is that you’ve been procrastinating on. I’m guessing as you read through these tips it was nagging at the back of your mind. What can you do today to make progress on it? No more excuses.
If you don’t have a system to help keep you moving towards your goals, I encourage you to check out the SPEARity App and chat with one of our SPEARity business coaches to see if coaching would be right for you.
We are SPEARity, a local Milwaukee leadership coaching firm that specializes in business coaching, executive coaching, and leadership development training.