Chase Away Procrastination: 8 Top Tips

I call myself a “closer” in that I need to finish stuff I start.  But that doesn’t mean it won’t take a long to to achieve this goal.  Somethings I want to finish have been hanging in there waiting on me to come back to them for almost five years.  That’s embarrassing but true.  Getting finished is often difficult for creative types such as writers.  Putting things off is much easier.  Sometimes at night I go through what I’ve accomplished in my head.  Be careful with this; it can keep you up for a long time.  But what I’m looking for is to identify what got finished for the day.

  • Maybe I finished a class I was teaching and got the papers graded and recorded.  That’s a finish
  • Maybe I needed to listen to an audio and do a handout in a course I purchased and I got through it. That’s a finish
  • It could be starting a new writing project, maybe just creating the outline. That’s the first step and that’s a finish.
  • It might be writing up an audio script for a client and getting it back to them for the first draft.  That’s a finish.
  • In fact, I just took a quick detour to respond to a graphic artist I’m having layout the new brochure I just created for the local free clinic.  That’s a finish.

Finishing is precious.  Creatives, that is, writers and similar artists need to stay focused to get finished.  Finishing is how we advance in our art.  But finishing can also be a problem because of the big “P” factor, that being procrastination.  Procrastinating or putting things off is common when you don’t like what you do.  Who wants to stay involved with what doesn’t make them happy.  But what about doing something you really enjoy?  That’s when procrastinating to the point of never finishing becomes a mystery.

I have to ask that because I really love writing.  When people ask that question “If you had all the money you needed to live the lifestyle you wanted, what would you do?”  My response is always “write.”  Yet, that doesn’t mean it’s the easiest thing to do.  Why do we put off what we love?

I’ve found a few things that happen with that for me.  For one, my brain is all over the place.  I remember reading about the concept of “monkey mind” in my all time favorite writing book “Writing Down the Bones” by Natalie Goldberg.  That Monkey mind for me is probably a bit of the ADHD I’ve never had formally evaluated but know is there.  My mind is always running.  I think of 20 different things at once.  Sticking with one project can be close to impossible and doing what’s necessary but boring is actually physically painful, but I do it because I have too and that’s a part of life.

So on some days, I procrastinate.  I’ve gotten so much better over the years but it’s definitely better.  You too might go through the ups and downs of getting to the finish and having procrastination days that can be difficult to conquer.

For days when you need to overcome a procrastinating mindset here are a few ideas.

1. Make small steps work for you.  When you’re putting off starting a large project it may be because it seems like a huge task that will eat up all of your time.  Instead of expecting yourself to work for hours on end, try starting with 10 minutes. This will get you going on it and then it will be easier to continue.

2. Take breaks.  This is something I have to practice.  Once I get going it’s difficult to remember to get up and take a break.  But sitting for long hours is more tiring than stopping periodically for a breather.  Try dividing the time into small steps and take a break when you complete each step.  Another method is to just get up every hour for a 10 minute break every hour.  That’s what I teach at my More & Eat sit for people who sit too much and move too little.

3. Take a walk.  That is, get out and get some fresh air to give your brain a break.  Fresh air and exercise can stimulate creativity by letting you stimulate the mind.  Plus getting outside lets you connect with nature so you can start thinking up new ideas.  Go for a walk so you can get back to your project with renewed energy.

4. Make a plan. It’s easy to continue on the path of procrastination when your goals remain unclear. Give yourself a strict deadline if necessary. Write down the tasks you need to complete and the details of those tasks. It’s a way of holding yourself accountable for what is or isn’t done at the end of the day.

5. Get to the root of the problem. Sometimes there’s an underlying reason why you’ve been procrastinating on one specific issue. You might not be able to identify this reason until you really think about it. If you can identify the reason, you might solve your procrastination problem for that specific issue.

6. Reward yourself. While a break might seem like a reward, you can promise yourself other types of rewards for completing tough tasks. Decide on something you want to have or want to do. Allow yourself this luxury once you’ve completed the task at hand.

7. Believe in yourself. When you believe in yourself, you gain a passion for life and an enthusiasm that will help you get through the day. Once you believe in yourself, you have the power to get over procrastination and reach your ultimate goals in life.

8. Do the least-liked task first. When your day consists of many tasks you need to complete, start with the one that’s hanging over your head. While you might be procrastinating against all of them, once the bad ones are out of the way, your day will improve.

9. Schedule fun tasks, too! I know, I said eight tips and here’s nine.  I went for a walk, that’s why and got a creative idea.   So I still wanted to share it with you without making a lot of changes.  Just like what I did, take time for yourself by making enjoyable tasks a part of your day. Since your to-do list is usually packed with undesirable tasks, you should include enjoyable activities as well.

Don’t let procrastination be a regular part of your life.  You don’t have to let it be a member of the family who you don’t enjoy but tolerate.  Un -invite the little bugger from your life.  That doesn’t mean procrastination won’t drop in for a visit once in a while; that’s just a normal part of life.  So when it comes in, say hello, maybe offer a cup of tea, then let it go.  It will get the point after a while and you’ll get to “finish” faster and quicker as time moves on.

Confident Entrepreneurial Persistence

Whether you’ve been in business for two days or for ten years there’s one common denominator, being an entrepreneur is hard work. It requires patience, perseverance, and persistence. Let’s face it, sometimes the desire to persevere can wane. You might lose your momentum and your business mojo from time to time. That’s to be expected and it’s the time when you take stock of what you’ve accomplished and where you want to go. However, you can reduce these times and have more entrepreneurial persistence by embracing the following tips and steps.

#1 Why Do You Want It?

It’s much easier to be persistent and to put one foot in front of the other, despite failures, if you know why you want it? What is your goal and what’s the motivation behind the goal? If you’re unsure then step back and spend time figuring it out. This is important. If you don’t know your why then the how, what, and when are much more difficult to follow through on. Vision boards are often recommend for new entrepreneurs. This may be a super approach for you. And if you’ve worn the entrepreneur hat for a few years consider reinventing your vision board, chances are a few things have changed in the past few years.

#2 It’s a Chipper

Generally, success doesn’t happen overnight. It takes years of work and more baby steps than you can count. Accept that. Embrace it. It’s much easier to take many small steps toward a goal than to try to achieve a handful of monumental steps. In the fitness industry any workout that requires many different movements over a long period of time is called a chipper. It means that you just have to chip away at the workout. The same is true for your business and business goals.

#3 Support Matters

Create processes and systems that support you to succeed and identify people who can support you as well. By building a team of people who are behind you whether you succeed or fail you’ll be able to hang onto a positive mindset. Attitude is essential for perseverance. Additionally, when your systems support you to succeed every step you take along the way is much easier to manage.

Perseverance is the ability to stick with it, to follow through, and to remain steadfast even during times of struggle. It’s an entrepreneurial requirement. Understand your motivation and your reasons for your business actions and decisions. Accept that the process may be difficult. Finally, build in support systems and positive people who are there to help you along the way.

The “Likeability” Factor

I used to teach business ethics.  One important concept my students learned was that of “likeability.”  It deals with human nature.  Likeability deals with the fact that when you like someone, no matter what they do, there’s a high probability that you agree with whatever that person does.  However, when you dislike a person, you tend to dislike anything that person does, right or wrong.

This concept plays out in business too.  People buy from people and companies they like. Think about the last time you made a purchase. Chances are, one of the reasons you made the purchase is because you liked the retailer or service provider.  That likeability related to making you trust them and probably consider them to be knowledgeable as well.

It doesn’t matter if you’re buying business services or a piece of jewelery, the likeability factor matters. As an online business owner the majority of your likeability needs to be communicated through your online interactions, which includes your content. In fact, your content and your marketing copy are the biggest likeability building assets you have.

Increasing you likeability is just a fact of doing business.  Here are some ideas to help increase your likeability.

Be Polite

It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? You’re a nice person so being polite is easy. However, it’s also easy to be misunderstood online. Written conversations can be difficult and more often now, video and audio conversations can be misconstrued. One online discussion or conversation can be taken the wrong way, making you appear to be unkind even when you didn’t intend your words to be received that way. It’s essential to be careful at all times with what you say online but also how you say it. If you’re unsure of whether or not you should say something, the answer is probably not. Being nice online also means being grateful, saying please and thank you, and by recognizing those who interact with you. Even if you disagree with what someone has to say on your blog for example, it’s important to recognize their feedback and to respond with kindness.

Be Who You Are

Be likeable just as you are. There’s no need to create a persona or to be someone you’re not to please the online public. When you’re authentic, it’s much easier to connect with your audience and to communicate your personality. That means talking to people though your content and online interactions the way you would in person.

Connect with Your Face

As human beings we connect with faces. You don’t have to think of yourself as a beauty queen. Fact is,  people like to connect with real people.  When you share yourself people feel you’re a real person, not just an anonymous business owner.  During the early years of the Internet, it was discouraged to share picture. The ability to be anonymous was an asset of doing online business.  Today, that’s changed.  People  are sharing pictures and its expected that you show who you are online.  This can be difficult for some people.  It took me a long time to break through this barrier.  But creating likeability requires being real to others.  Share your photo on your website, social media pages and in the byline or footer of your articles.  May also share a photo in email messages and any other communications with prospects and customers; and don’t forget to smile.

There are other steps you can take to build likeability as well. Share experiences online, engage in or initiate conversations, and remember that the majority of online marketing is about building relationships.