Five strategies for combating procrastination

It is too easy to get overwhelmed by the day-to-day work of running your own business

Can you believe we’re nearing the end of the first quarter of 2018? I know, time goes by fast. This is a perfect time to review your strategic and action plans, and take an inventory of where you stand. Are you on track? Do you need to make a few adjustments in your initial forecast? Can you even find your strategic plan?

If you found that you didn’t quite get the jumpstart you wanted this quarter, have no fear. You can regroup and start over in the second quarter. If the reason you’re a bit behind the eight ball is procrastination, then you need to examine why and take steps to overcome this obstacle. Procrastination is usually the culprit.

Procrastination is a dirty word when you’re an entrepreneur. However, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the day-to-day work of running a business, and let’s face it, most entrepreneurial to-do lists are exhausting to even read.

In addition to the work you need to perform on your business, you have the added pressures of working in your business with clients, vendors and other third party services. Next thing you know procrastination becomes a synonym for missed deadlines, unhappy clients and business decline. Being overwhelmed often breeds procrastination.

There are ways to combat procrastination (and being overwhelmed) so you can reconnect with the love you have for your business. Now, I must share, just because they’re simple does not mean their easy.

1. Find an accountability partner

Holding yourself accountable for your goals is a key factor to accomplishing your weekly, monthly and quarterly goals. Having to tell someone you failed at reaching a goal or making excuses to that person is uncomfortable. It’s even better if your chosen partner is a “tell it like it is” person who won’t accept your excuses or let you off easy. Even if you just choose one goal a week, month or quarter, knowing someone is waiting to hear an update is often enough to spur you to action and avoid procrastination. In addition, having an accountability partner to bounce ideas around will also help with feeling overwhelmed by your never ending to do list.

2. Visualize the future you want

That’s right, visualize what you want. This is a powerful way to prioritize what’s important to you. If you did not create a vision board for this year, schedule time this week to do this exercise. Working on a physical or digital vision board, when done correctly, is an exciting way to pay attention to your subconscious desires, which can inform your intellectual endeavors.

Posting meaningful photos or words on your vision board gives them life, it makes them a solid goal in your life and will inspire you to work hard to reach those goals. It forces you to engage in a daily visual manifestation exercise. But don’t keep those goals a secret. Share your board with those who will support your intentions and hold the space for your goals.

3. Harness the fear

Sometimes procrastination evolves from a fear of getting out of your comfort zone. Fear is nothing more than your brain trying to keep you at status quo. Fear denies you the possibility of reaching your full potential and keeps you reaching your desired goals. But no matter how long you put something off, it doesn’t mean it’s going to disappear. Reaching out of your comfort zone can be rewarding but admittedly it can be quite nerve wracking. Remember, I said this stuff is not easy. Oftentimes, if you can push past the fear you’ll discover the task itself was easier or less complicated than you originally thought.

4. Tackle your most important task first

In Brian Tracy’s bestselling book, “Eat That Frog,” he provides several ways to stop procrastinating to get things done. He noted that there’s not enough time to get everything done on our lists, and furthermore, there never will be. In fact, he went on to say that successful people don’t try to do everything and instead focus on the most important tasks and make sure that those things get done first. In other words, they eat the frog. If you want to move important tasks off your to-do list, then start your morning with a bang by completing your most important or your biggest task of the day. Maybe this is your bookkeeping that isn’t up to date or maybe it’s a client call or project. Don’t just assume you can do it later because later may never come. You never know what emergencies or client crises will come up later.

5. Hire a team member

I talked about hiring a team member last month and if you didn’t get around to doing it, now may be the time. It’s OK to admit you need help running your business. If the small mundane tasks are holding you back, then hire a virtual assistant to handle those tasks. Delegate those tasks that cause you to procrastinate and you’ll find a new love for your business. In the end, you’ll also come out ahead because while she’s taking care of business, you can take care of your money-making tasks.

If you can find a way to implement even one of these strategies, I’m sure when you look back over quarter two you’ll be presently surprised.

Dr. Carol Parker Walsh, is a confident & executive coach, personal branding expert, certified image professional and owner of Camas-based Evolve Image Consulting. She is the expert behind the Vancouver Business Journal’s advice column: Dress Code. This column specializes in providing strategies to position entrepreneurs and leaders for success. Walsh can be reached at evolvingyourimage.com.

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