Tips to Overcome Procrastination

Overcoming Procrastination Windy Lawson

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Overcoming Procrastination Windy Lawson

If you put the PRO in procrastination, I’m giving you a hard side-eye and a heaping dose of #BestieRealTalk today. We all procrastinate from time to time, just like all don’t floss after every meal. We know better, but we’re mere mortals after all. And while I can’t help you with your dental hygiene, I can hook you up with some tips to overcome procrastination.

But first, let’s be clear on what procrastination is. Procrastination is the deliberate and intentional deferral of tasks that must be completed by a deadline, for which there are positive and negative consequences. There must be a task with a deadline. And there must be a consequence associated with the task. Otherwise, it’s not really procrastination.

So, if procrastination is holding you back, these tips can help you get unstuck and chugging along in no time.

#1: What’s the point of this task?

Ok, bestie, this is gonna sound weird, really weird, but ask yourself what is the point of this task? Is it critical to your success? Or is it busy work? Is it a priority right now?

As a microbusiness owner, you wear all the hats for your business. Which means sometimes you need to prioritize like a motha. And sometimes what we think is procrastination is really a deprioritizing of a task.

A few months ago I told to my mastermind group I was going to launch a YouTube channel. It was the next priority in my marketing strategy. I gave myself a deadline. Every week they would ask me if I had launched my channel and I’d reply Nope, I haven’t had a chance to yet. It’s on the list. I was deliberately and intentionally deferring tasks that must be completed by a deadline, for which there are positive and negative consequences. The deadline was self-imposed and the outcome would have a positive or negative consequence {funnels, baby!}.

But, I wasn’t truly procrastinating. I had deprioritized the task in my mind. I had other opportunities that were more pressining {AKA important to me} than launching the YouTube channel.

It’s important to understand the difference, because if you’re actually re-prioritizing tasks, procrastination isn’t your challenge, planning is.

Total sidebar, squirrel moment: I did finally launch my YouTube channel, once it became a priority. You can see it here.

Now if the task is, in fact, critical to your success, imagine how relieved you will feel once it’s done, or how uncomfortable you will be if you don’t complete the task. And, honestly, thinking about the pain will likely motivate you more than the pleasure will.

Let’s say your task was to call the bank to set up an appointment to get a loan so you could start your business, and you’ve been putting off making that call. Imagine the pleasure you’ll feel when you make the call, then have the appointment, then get the loan, then find a building, then open the shop you’ve been dreaming of. Feels good, yeah? But maybe not enough to pick up the damn phone.

Now imagine you don’t make the call, don’t get the loan, don’t start your business and are stuck sitting in a cubicle next to Karen and her stinky microwaved leftover fish for the next 30 years. All you have to do is make one call and Karen and her stinky fish could be in the rearview mirror before you know it.

To overcome procrastination, find the feeling that pushes you into action. Then, act!

#2: Take small steps

A journey of a thousand miles, blah, blah, blah.

Even when you are super stoked about a giant project, say creating a new product line or launching a website, the enormity of the project can feel utterly overwhelming. Instead of focusing on the whole, focus on the steps or tasks.

Tasks are something you can complete in a single session. Replying to an email is a task. Making a graphic is a task.

Projects are comprised of multiple tasks or steps, and likely cannot be completed in a single session.

All too often, we identify projects as tasks, then procrastinate because they take so much time.

Creating this blog post isn’t a task, it’s a project that includes the following tasks:

  • Researching the topic
  • Writing the blog post
  • Creating the graphics
  • Proofreading
  • Optimizing for search engines
  • Identifying the tags and categories
  • Publishing
  • Promoting

Instead of getting overwhelmed by the entire project, focus on one task that you can complete that will move the entire project forward. Then do it!

#3: Take a break, man

If you know the task you need to do and why it’s important, but you’ve been glued to your desk for the last 2 hours, your mind is begging you to take a break. Listen, boo, you should be taking a 10-minute break every hour to maintain productivity.

Go for a walk in the fresh air, text a friend, fold a load of laundry or unload the dishwasher, whatever floats your boat. But, set a timer for 10 minutes so you don’t accidentally give yourself a two-hour break playing Toy Blast. When you come back, you’ll be refreshed and ready to get back to your project with renewed energy.

#4: If it’s fun, it gets done

For most of us, we focus less on the gains of the future and more on the gains of the present. Just look at what you ate during your Super Bowl party, m’kay. We make decisions based on our current comfort level and not our future comfort level and we love us some instant gratification. So, if you want to do something unpleasant now, make it fun/pleasurable. It might take some creativity, but those tasks you procrastinate on can become fun.

  • Complete your monthly P&L in a bubble bath
  • Do you customer follow ups in your fanciest dress
  • Start your taxes while getting a pedicure
  • Clean your office while dancing

To overcome procrastination on those boring tasks, find ways to make them fun.

#5: Reward yourself

Every week, I lay out my social media content for the week, with a handful of M&M’s on my desk. Once my calendar is laid out, I get three M&M’s. For each post I write, I get one M&M. For each graphic, one M&M.

Don’t underestimate the power of chocolate, ladies.

I’m not advocating depriving yourself, but rather treating yourself when you complete the task. Rewards come in all shapes and sizes and can be a powerful tool to overcome procrastination. A handful of M&M’s here, a massage there, you are the boss and you can reward your employee for a job well done if you want to!

#6: Focus on the outcome, not the process

We procrastinate on some tasks because they are boring {yay, it’s time to do inventory, said no one ever.} But the most common reason we procrastinate on the important things is to protect our self-worth. Nobody procrastinates on the tasks they are really good at or are comfortable completing. It’s when we’re doing hard things, new things, scary things, that our procrastination goes into overdrive.

Because we want it to be flawless. We want perfection.

And the biggest mistake we make is not separating the process from the outcome. The outcome can be perfect, but the process rarely will be, and that powerful revelation can help overcome procrastination.

Let’s say your goal was to launch a blog. The outcome is that you have a blog. That outcome can be perfect. There was no blog, now there is a blog. Well done, you.

The process is securing a domain name, securing hosting, building the blog, making graphics for the blog, etc. There are so many moving pieces to building a blog that is virtually impossible to make the process perfect. Even if you had problem after problem with the process, you can still have a perfect outcome.

Or, imagine you wanted to pitch a collaboration with me. A perfect outcome is we work together in a collaboration. The process is writing me a compelling pitch email.

We procrastinate on the process because we want the process to be perfect. Maybe it’s putting off writing blog posts, procrastinating on choosing a logo, or agonizing over the “perfect pitch letter”. But it’s possible the process will be perfect, but the outcome won’t be. Instead of obsessing over the process, focus on the outcome.

Because the task you are procrastinating on is keeping you from getting to the outcome. You can’t ever get to the outcome without completing the process. And imperfect processes can lead to perfect outcomes.

Procrastination is a bad habit, babe. Use these tips to overcome procrastination, and you’ll be more productive and have more peace.

Need more goodness like this in your life? Why don’t you invite me over to your place? And by place, I mean your inbox. Subscribe to my newsletter and you’ll score my free-fifty-free Crafting Your Mission worksheet, plus periodic love notes from me. See you in your inbox!

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