The disease is sweeping the nation. It seems to be affecting small business owners (and even large corporate owners) everywhere. Its called (drum roll please) procrastination. For example, this article would have been out days ago, but
Procrastination is one of those sneaky little buggers. You see, it waits to crop up when you have a difficult task to attend to " like when you have to fire someone you really like. These pending difficult tasks often cause the rising need to waste time (i.e. Im just going to blow of some steam first.).
I happened to be cruising around Facebook one day when I received a private message. I was taken aback by the womans frankness and direct question. It was a simple one: meaning a lot of work and little money did you feel that way, too, when you started your company? Oh, I gave her as direct an answer as I could, but what I forgot to mention is how much I procrastinated.
Unfortunately, putting things off can be extremely detrimental to whatever youre doing. It can become a habit, undermining anything you might do.
What Are Your Trigger Situations?
Finding out what situations trigger your own procrastinating can go a long way in helping you move forward and get things done. Some trigger situations might be:
Lack of direction
For example, in starting any business, most of us freeze unless we have a clear plan; we dont just wing it. For me, Id been out of business for a few years, so I wasnt sure how / where to start. I had to take that first step, however even though it felt like the biggest step ever.
You have to take that first step. Bravery isnt lack of fear, but moving forward in the face of fear. Lay out a plan " any plan. It doesnt have to be right at first; it just has to get your brain moving in a forward direction.
Unable to think long term
Many of us (procrastinators) have issues with time management strategies. We can look at the short term, but long-term situations seem lost in the mist. We still want those short-term, small assignments the teachers gave us in high school.
Well, now youre the teacher. Create your long-term goals and then break them down into your short-term assignments. When put all together, a plan can seem never ending; once you break it into bite-sized pieces, however, each step becomes clear. The plan becomes more doable.
Being undisciplined or unorganized
Same, same. Self-discipline and organization is paramount to beating the habit of procrastination. Another example: I use a lot of tools on the Internet each day. Its not easy to keep track of which ones Ive touched and which ones Ive forgotten.
Whats the key? Another tool " such as a day planner. Ive started using Google Calendar, Google Docs and TimeBridge to help me manage my schedule. Okay, granted, Im still the Post-It note queen, but now I can be all high tech and professional with my Post-It notes.
Too many time suckers
Social media is a huge time suck, but a way for many small businesses to gather new clients. Unfortunately, its what you call a legitimate procrastination effort. You can waste away the day on Facebook, Twitter et. all, with no real strategy, but mark it off as marketing.
As a professional procrastinator, it may be hard to decide whats low priority or high priority. You might think a simple task is actually an important one. On the other hand, you might assume all important tasks have to take a long time. Figuring out which tasks have what priority is also important.
What weve created is a to-do list. It sounds simple and it is. Each day, we check the list, and set out which tasks need to be done that day. We limit repeatable tasks to specific days and seldom have to worry about any unfinished chores.
Im not going to say working for yourself is easy. Im not going to say everyone should do it. Its not for the weary, or for someone without another source of income.
I was lucky to have a wonderful spouse and a small savings account to help me through the trim years. I was also lucky to have a wonderful assistant when I started Level343 back up. She was patient, and knew she had to give more than she received in order to grow this company. Needless to say, now I cant do any of this without her.
As a company, we can actually stop procrastinating and pick our battles. We can embrace the hardest chores with an understanding that we may no do it perfectly and some of us may fail. Thats all part of life.
No one is going to hold your hand unless you ask for help. Even then, you may be hard-pressed to get the help you really need. I dont want to sound cheesy, but surround yourself with like-minded people. If you do this, you wont have to do the rest on your own. Youll have support when youre frozen with indecision and procrastinating on Facebook. Finally, remember " loyalty isnt cheap. When you find it, dont ignore it
For the past twenty years Gabriella has held positions as a consultant, web developer and creative director until she decided it was time to open Level 343, an SEO and copywriting company. She fancies herself an Italian rocker, rebel and SEO geek. She loves singing in the shower and keeps a notepad next to her bed.