I’m going to tell you a secret.
I’m a huge procrastinator. It’s true.
But the amazing thing is, I’m getting a lot better at not being lazy, and sometimes I stop procrastinating! So there’s hope!
As a small business owner I’m often overwhelmed with the amount of tasks and responsibilities I have to deal with every day. On top of that, I’m still in school and I have a 9-year-old daughter. Who convinced me to get a dog, and a hamster, and a fish tank (which somehow all became my responsibility). And on top of that, I have a house to maintain, a hubby to spend time with, and a social life I try to keep active. And, well, you get it…
We’re all busy!
No matter what our jobs are, or how many family members we care for, we all have a lot going on at all times!
So, yeah, sometimes I procrastinate, which can be a huge problem when juggling this much. Before I know it, my to-do list has tripled in just a couple of days. Which is why it’s better to get things done sooner than later, and to avoid that overwhelming feeling of anxiety and dread.
12 Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get It Done
Here’s the thing, sometimes it’s best to just get started right away. Soon as you sit down at your desk, or open your laptop, ignore your emails and your social media feeds and jump right into the work that needs to be done!
I don’t know how many times I’ve gone to select a playlist, only to get lost exploring new songs on Spotify or YouTube when I should have been working. While you could say it’s a distraction, I know for a fact it’s one of my forms of procrastination. Which leads me to my next point.
Learn Your Weaknesses
Over time you’ll eventually learn what your weaknesses are. The things that you do or use to procrastinate. The little excuses you come up with. I know I’ve learned mine!
Some are good forms or procrastination, like cleaning. My house never looks as good as when I have an exam coming up or a big project due.
But some of my procrastination weaknesses are bad, like watching TV. The days I decided to “catch an episode” before I get to work are the laziest days of all. Which is why the TV is best avoided.
Some of my other forms of procrastination include:
- taking the dog for another walk
- checking my email for the thousandths time (which I need to check regularly, but damn that junk mail needs to be avoided!)
- going to the store for something I don’t actually need right away, but convince myself I do
Try to pay attention to the little things that you use to procrastinate and make note of them. Once you learn what your weaknesses are, the easier it will be to avoid them.
Switch It Up
I have a home office where I get the most work done, usually. But sometimes I just get really bored of being in the same little room day after day. When this happens I like to work at my kitchen table. Which is funny, because for years I wanted to work in my own office and get away from the kitchen. But it’s a good place to work on simple tasks while Sidney’s home, so at least I have some company.
Other times I enjoy working in the library or nearby cafe.
Sometimes, it’s my routine that needs to be switched up.
I get bored easily. So if I’m stuck doing the same thing day after day, I’ll eventually drift away from working. The best solution for this is to switch things up! Try out a new project, or get creative with something I’m already working on. That’s the beauty of being an entrepreneur! You have the freedom to do as you please!
It can also be problematic though, as sometimes too much freedom gives me more reasons to procrastinate.
Create a Routine
While switching things up, whether it’s your environment or your tasks, can be a good thing, having a regular schedule is also good.
Humans are creatures of habit.
Study after study proves we’re our best when we have a routine in place. And while I’m not saying you should create a strict routine and never stray (because sometimes you need to switch things up!), it helps to have a schedule.
Having a schedule works because over time your body and your mind begin to remember the schedule, even when you don’t. So when that time comes around you’re already in the right mindset. It’s like waking up at the same time every day; eventually you start waking up even before your alarm goes off.
It also helps you learn when you’re most productive, and when it’s just a waste of time trying to work. For example, I work best between 9-5. Funny, because I never wanted to have a regular 9-5 job! And forever I thought it was awesome that I could work in the evenings, but truth be told, by the time evening comes I’m just too tired.
I’m also in the process of adopting a new morning and bedtime routine, now that I’m waking up at 6:30 a.m. every day (a new and crazy idea I had). And I’m already trying to plan out a feasible schedule for when I go back to school in September. It just makes my life so much easier and better organized, and it helps me stop procrastinating.
Don’t Over-Complicate It
I’ll never hide the fact that I live with anxiety. It’s something that’s part of me, even if it is a pain in the butt most days.
And as someone with anxiety, I often over-complicate things and stress about it, making it really hard to get done. Every now and then I look at my to-do list and I just can’t even.
There are a number of reasons for anxiety related procrastination, and honestly, mine comes from over-complicating things.
I start to think about how long it’s going to take, how I won’t have time, or how much work it’s going to be, or how I’m not smart enough, and so I push it aside, and I push it aside, and then, eventually I can’t push it aside any more so I just do it. And you know what? It never takes as long as I think it’s going to, it’s never as hard as I think it’s going to be, and I’m a lot smarter than I give myself credit for.
I now recognize when my procrastination is stemmed from anxiety, and I remind myself those three things:
- It never takes as long as I think it will.
- It’s never as hard as I think it’s going to be.
- I’m a lot smarter than I give myself credit for.
Break It Down
Sometimes a project is really big and scary, though. It’s like looking at the top of a mountain when you’re at the very bottom of it and you wonder how you’ll ever make it to the top (I’ve never climbed a mountain, but I’m sure it feels the same as tackling a big project).
In cases like this, it’s best to break the project down into manageable tasks. I took a project management class last term that really helped. It’s actually how I launched my business! Because deciding to do something as big as launch as a business can be scary as all heck. There’s a lot to do! But when I broke it down into small pieces and came up with an action plan, I was able to stop procrastinating and just do it.
Share Your Goals
I love setting goals! I also love sharing them! Not because I want to, but because they keep me accountable.
Sure, I don’t always accomplish them, but putting your goals out there and discussing them with people makes it a lot easier to stick to.
Even if it’s just one close friend.
Display Your To-Do List
If you took a look at my desk you would find a big desk calendar, a planner, a to-do notepad and a journal where I write down my daily tasks. I also keep a detailed Google calendar.
It kind of seems like overload to most people but I learned what works for me. Which is apparently writing down my tasks every where, so that I can never forget them.
Even a small notepad with your list of tasks can work wonders! Put it somewhere where you can see it every day as a reminder of what needs to be done.
As a tip though, don’t overload it with menial tasks that don’t need to be written down (like, brush teeth), because then it could become too big and scary to handle.
Surround Yourself With Go-Getters
I’ve made many friends over the years. Some I stayed in contact with, others I drifted apart from, like most people. But I learned that the people who surround yourself with really rub off on you.
For example, when I was in high school I was a total slacker. I managed to get good grades without trying, but I spent all of my free time hanging out with my slacker friends (sorry guys, you know it’s true!).Then I entered college I made friends with one of the best students in the class. Not intentionally because she was smart, but because we were the only two moms. Anyway, she really puts a lot of effort into everything she does! And that totally rubbed off on me and I had my best term ever.
If you find that you procrastinate a lot, and so do your friends, try making more friends with people who are go-getters. The people who don’t procrastinate, but instead go for the things they want! Make a point to grab coffee, and talk about your goals, and really motivate each other. It really works! (And totally stay friends with your other buds, too, ’cause the more the merrier!)
Because human connections are great! And because they’re so great, you should get a buddy.
A lot of people admit to needing someone to hold them accountable. That’s why life and business coaches exist! That’s why people form mastermind groups! That’s why so many people choose to workout with a friend, or seek out a mentor.
If you’re having a hard time getting things done because you don’t have anyone holding you accountable, a problem for many sole proprietors (ahem, me), seek out a buddy. Find someone you click with who has similar goals, so you can cheer each other on! So they can text you to get out of bed and get to work! So you can do the same for them!
And if you really do need a buddy, I do, too! I always need more and more buddies. Contact me, and let’s be friends 🙂
Isn’t self-doubt just the worst? Like, THE WORST?!
I don’t know how many times I’ve avoided doing something because I didn’t think I was good enough (refer to #5). And it sucks!
It’s so easy to beat yourself down and avoid things because your self-esteem is taking a break. And while it’s not always easy, if you really try, you can crush that self-doubt and stop procrastinating! Even if only for a while.
Be Easy On Yourself
Okay guys. There are a lot of reasons I find myself procrastinating. And you might be able to relate. But one thing I have learned is that you have to be easy on yourself.
Sometimes you’re just having a terrible day, and when those days happen, take a break. Call a friend. Catch a movie. Eat a tub of ice cream and a bag of chips.
And other times, admit you can’t do it all. Don’t take on more than you can handle. Don’t try to be super human because your entrepreneur-girl-crush seems to be able to. She’s only human, too, and you don’t know her circumstances.
Hey, all I’m saying is, procrastination can often be overcome, but on the days it can’t be, don’t beat yourself up over it.
Tomorrow is a new day.