How to Stop Procrastinating in Your Business
OK, stop for just a moment. What were you doing right before you started reading this article?
Was it one of your priorities?
Chances are, if you haven't already completed your priorities for today, that you're procrastinating.
It's something we all do at times. I know I do.
Procrastinating pops up in various ways. It's not just the little, Facebook-for-just-a-minute periods during the day. It's also the difficult phone call, the hard conversation, the tough decision, that slows your momentum and sometimes even brings it to a halt.
Some days, it can be like playing whack-a-mole, where procrastination is your constant companion and it's all you can do to whack the next mole and keep going.
When the procrastinating is around a big decision, it's especially important to take notice. I put off leaving my corporate job for the 5 years before I started my business 19 years ago. The job was comfortable, though often unpleasant. I knew the situation. I knew it was wrong for me. Still, I stalled. Then, I let a scenario unfold in a way that finally led to my departure.
My client, let's call him Jason, was in the same boat. He'd been in his job for a while. It paid fairly well. It was challenging in its own way. And even though he felt a strong desire to have his own business, it was hard to make the break. He was starting to feel badly about himself for delaying.
I asked him, "What's stopping you from leaving your job?" His answers to that question through the work we did together started him on his journey to resigning and going out on his own as a consultant.
At times, you can pass through your procrastination simply by taking that very first action step. Starting to take action can be enough to move you out of put-it-off mode.
Other times, though, it's not enough to take action. Just because you're procrastinating, it doesn't mean you need to immediately leap into action. Procrastination is trying to tell you something, Take time to find out what it is.
Messages your own procrastinating may be sending you are:
1. Fear. I'm scared! This is bigger/harder/tougher than I thought it would be.
2. Perfection. I think this has to be perfect before I do anything with it.
3. The unknown. I have no idea what's on the other side of this. And I'm gonna stay right here, where I know what's what, until I do know.
4. Overwhelm. This is all too much. I can't handle it right now.
5. This is not mine to do. I'm not good at this. And I don't enjoy it.
6. Comfort zone alert. I'm out of my comfort zone. This is not what I'm used to. I'm stretching!
What you can do about it:
1. When you're scared: Your reptilian brain may be doing a tap dance all over your logical cerebral cortex, and winning. Until you identify the fear and face it, your own personal lizard will keep on dancing. Naming your fear and standing up to it is your work in that moment.
2. Progress, not perfection. It's not perfect. It never will be perfect. And that is OK. It's more important to get your work out there than it is to work toward perfection. Going for perfection is a no-win game. It can be a disguise for holding your power in check. So when you see this message in your procrastinating, just do your best, and then ship it!
3. When you don't know what's waiting for you: Find out. Do some research. Talk to some people. Get as much information as you can about what's likely to be on the other side of the thing you're procrastinating about. Then, do what you're putting off doing. You need the energy of the back and forth interaction with your potential clients and customers to feed your work.
4. Overwhelmed? Give up. Seriously. Some days, the best thing you can do is just give in to your procrastinating and give the issue a rest. The key to this one is to not leave it lying there, but return to it later, or the next day, when you are fresh and able to look at it with a new perspective.
5. When it drains you: Delegate. Make it a goal in your business to delegate everything that you are not energized by. It's a lofty goal, sure, but worth moving towards. The more you delegate what drags you down, takes your energy away, the more you can focus on the work you love, what you're passionate about, and that will bring you income.
6. Stretch out of your comfort zone. Being successful, achieving something more or different than you've ever achieved before means you'll have to stretch out of your comfort zone. It will be uncomfortable. And the more you do it, the more it will feel like part of the natural landscape. Your life as an entrepreneur, a growing, thriving entrepreneur, will mean having discomfort. When you do it, when you stretch, it will mean more than just that situation. Your confidence will grow, your resolve will strengthen, and you'll move closer, ever closer to who you came here to be.
Jason did leave his job. He felt scared, and yet, liberated and energized. He poured that energy into his consulting practice, and was at work in his own business within 3 weeks with his first client. Jason told me he felt like he had come home to himself. He listened to his delaying, his procrastination, and heard what it had to tell him.
Procrastination isn't you. It's doesn't have to define you.
Procrastination is just a signal. It's trying to tell you something. Focus on the message. Heed that message, pay attention to it, and learn what it's trying to tell you.
With that knowledge, you can move through procrastination to what you really want to do. Who you really want to be.