Procrastination Sucks and We Still Do It

Shhhhhhhhhhh… I have a secret to share with you… I procrastinate! Let’s be real: most of us, on one level or another, are guilty of procrastination too. How many of you have worked on a business proposal last minute? Or left it too long to let go of an employee who was underperforming? Or perhaps kept working in the business, doing menial tasks, instead of working on your business, tackling bigger projects that would help your business grow?

You are not alone. “20-25% of adults are chronic procrastinators. That’s higher than the rate for depression, substance abuse, phobias, and other psychological abnormalities.” says Joseph R. Ferrari, author of Still Procrastinating: The No-Regrets Guide to Getting It Done.

Don’t beat yourself up! Our brains are programmed to procrastinate. It’s easier for our brains to process concrete rather than abstract things. Instant gratification is the best friend of procrastination. Let that sink in for a second. Responding to an email, getting lost on Instagram, or checking off an unimportant task on your to-do list may bring you some satisfaction, but are these actions really solving a problem? Are they helping you achieve your business goals?

There are many reasons why we procrastinate. We procrastinate when we don’t like the task, or when we feel overwhelmed – sometimes we don’t think we have the skills or knowledge needed, or we may fear success as much as failure. Some of us procrastinate because we are perfectionists.

Learn to tell the difference: what are the tasks that can bring you success, that can make a positive change in your life and business?

On my quest for self-improvement I’ve learned a few strategies and I will share with you 3 tips to beat procrastination:

 

  1. Visualization. Imagine how good it will feel when you complete a daunting task! If there’s a call you’re avoiding or a transformative project you’re putting off, give your brain a hand. Imagine the amazing sense of satisfaction you’ll have once it’s done—and perhaps also the look of relief on someone’s face when they get from you what they needed.
  1. Say it out loud. Telling people that you’re going to get something done can increase the appeal of actually taking action, because our brain is highly responsive to our social stratification. Want to take it even further? Find an accountability partner, maybe a co-worker or another business owner.
  1. Rip off the band-aid.  Tackle your most important tasks first. Stop filling your day with too many unimportant tasks. Set yourself a deadline for each important task, and stick to it. Start saying NO to people, stay focused and avoid distractions. Break down a big task into manageable smaller tasks. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at the time!

 

In the end, the real issue with procrastination is delaying or never accomplishing tasks with no deadlines. When you have a deadline, you most likely accomplish a task, even if it is not perfect. Some examples of projects with no deadlines you may putting off are: starting a business, launching a new company website, developing a new product or start offering new services.

Beating procrastination is not something we do once and for all. It is something we have to be constantly working on it. It’s a bad habit that can easily sneak back into your routine if you are not paying attention. For me, adding deadlines to personal and business projects and following the tips above have made a real impact. Visualization, in particular, is so simple yet so effective. These steps have definitely helped me reduce anxiety and frustration, and increased the results that can help positively move the needle forward for my company.

Stop procrastinating and start being PROACTIVE! Take ACTION! Focus on what you want MOST rather than what you want NOW!

 

This article was written by our Director of Communications Priscilla Azzolini.