"The two rules of procrastination: 1) Do it today. 2) Tomorrow will be today tomorrow." Vincent T. Foss
Susan Daley was a successful entrepreneur selling promotional products. She enjoyed making decent money while having the flexibility to work at home. Susan recently took over a colleague’s account, a huge growth opportunity. So why did she spend her mornings playing solitaire in her messy office rather than making phone calls to prospects?
To procrastinate is “to put off doing something”, or “to postpone or delay needlessly”. Sometimes we avoid doing the tasks that must be done because they are unpleasant or boring, or because we have poor time management skills or are lazy. And yet, often it is the tasks we most want to do that we put off, resulting in much internal pressure.
In Susan’s case, she loved building relationships with potential clients, helping them to better serve their customers and employees, and making a good paycheck to support her family.
So what was going on?
Awareness is the first step. Think about your excuses for not accomplishing your goals. Everyone has his or her own pattern of procrastinating. Here are eight examples:
- Fear of change, rejection or failure
- Need to be perfect (I can’t do it perfectly so I won’t start)
- Lack of time
- Too much stress, pressure or anxiety which leads to paralysis
- Overwhelm on how to start (task is too big, don’t know how to do it, etc.)
- Self-doubt or lack of confidence
- Disorganization, indecision
- Other priorities, big (work/family crisis) and little (need to check email first!)
Do these excuses sound reasonable and logical? That’s often the case. The problem is that if you buy into the excuses, you don’t follow-through on the steps needed to achieve your goals. Procrastination can feel good in the moment, but then creates stress. This becomes a vicious cycle.
The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing. Walt Disney
Getting into action alleviates the stress of procrastination almost instantaneously.
Here are the five simple steps:
1. Identify the task to be done
2. Identify the first or next step to accomplish the task
3. Commit to a time when you will begin the first step
4. Be aware of your pattern of excuses
5. BUT begin the first step in collaboration with the excuses
Susan outlined the steps needed to organize her files and her office to have ready access to client information. She set daily and weekly goals for contacting prospects and clients. Working with a coach provided the structure and accountability to stay in action on these tasks. She developed strategies to counteract the fear of rejection that was fueling some of the procrastination.
Don’t worry about eliminating all the excuses, or analyzing too much why you are procrastinating. Getting into action actually reduces the grip of the inertia and overwhelm of procrastination. As Susan found, it can be helpful to have partners and strategies to keep the excuses at bay.
You’ll feel more confident and relaxed as you experience the success of reaching your goals. You gain momentum and if you begin the task again and again, you WILL ultimately achieve it.