I was at a party recently and ran into a woman I’ve known for years. She is a friend and a former client. As we stood talking over a tasty treat she told me that, despite the work we’ve done together, she still procrastinates. I replied…”Yeah, me too.” She looked at me, shocked and said, “I can’t believe it. You do so much! There’s NO WAY, you procrastinate.”
So here’s the cold hard truth. Yes, I procrastinate. In fact I’m a master procrastinator and I’m not alone. According to studies done on procrastination (I wonder how long those took to complete!) 95% of all people procrastinate. My personal belief is that the other 5% of the population are lying. Oh and according to those same studies, 25% of us are chronic procrastinators. Yes, you can put me in that 25%.
Just because everyone procrastinates does not mean it is okay. Procrastination is bad for business, bad for profits and bad for you.
It’s kind of obvious that procrastination costs us time, energy and money and I can give you a lot of examples about how, but there are two things that are even worse that we tend to forget.
1. You’re being selfish. The people who we are “supposed” to be helping don’t get the help that they need. You know the book that you’ve been meaning to write? Well, the person who needs to read it can’t. You know that person who you met at a networking event that you’ve been meaning to follow up with about your program? Well, that person isn’t getting the support they need to move forward.
2. Procrastination kills your self esteem. Every time we put something on our to-do list but procrastinate and “put it off until later” we fail ourselves. That’s not to say that you must complete everything that is on your current to-do list…there are things that you should consciously remove (more about that another time!) but when you wrote “write chapter 1”, “call Joe to follow up” or “layout plan for new program” on your to-do list you, in essence, created a contract with yourself. When you don’t follow through on your own contracts with yourself how can you trust yourself to do anything? Can you see how your belief in yourself effects every conversation you have and frankly everything you do in both your personal and professional life?
So how is it that even though I’m a master procrastinator I’ve more than doubled my business this past year, written a book, created, marketing and ran three new programs, attended six live events, presented my own one day live event and so much more?
Here’s my secret…I have worked with coaches (that I’ve paid for) since I started my business back in 2003. The two biggest benefits I have gotten from my coaches is first that they have opened up my mind to new ideas and help me see things that I wouldn’t have noticed otherwise. The second benefit (and here’s my true confession) is that having a coach increases my productivity dramatically. I get more done in the hour before I speak with my coach than between our conversations (okay, that may be an exaggeration but I think you know what I mean).
My coach helps me but it’s not everything, so whether or not you chose to work with a coach (me or someone else) privately or as part of a group program, here are FIVE additional strategies I use in my day-to-day business to keep me moving.
1. Make sure that the tasks you are putting on your to-do list are specific tasks and not projects. For instance “Work on Website” is not specific and is a project. Instead write “Spend 30-minutes writing the ‘About Me’ section for my website”.
2. Make sure the tasks you put on your to-do list are really the next steps you need to take. Looking at that website example again, even if you had written “Write about me section for website” ask yourself if that is really the next step that needs to be done. Do you need to review other websites to see how others do it? Do you need any other information before you can do this task? Or are you ready to open up a new document on your computer and start to type?
3. Set a specific amount of time and set an appointment with yourself to actually do the work. The more specific you are the better. For instance, Tuesday from 1 – 1:30 review other website’s “About Me” section in order to get a better understanding of what I want to do.
4. When choosing when you are going to work on something make sure that your calendar is really clear. Don’t just pick a time randomly, is it a time of day when you are able to focus or do you typically get interrupted at that time?
5. Find someone to be accountable to. Like I said, I frequently use my coach, but there have been many occasions, especially for the smaller, day-to-day type things, that I rely on my network of friends and colleagues. Don’t try to go it alone!
It’s important to remember that we are all unique and that we all have strategies up our sleeves that work for us. Share your favorite “get yourself moving” strategies.