Eighty-five percent of all people have suffer from a terrible disease. It can eat away at someone for years and years, making them fall more and more behind from the rest of the crowd. It grows deep in the brain of the majority of the world’s population, yet nothing is being done about it. And what’s even worse, is that the disease is spreading to more and more people throughout the world as we speak, especially to those in high school and college. Finally, this disease is also spreading to a number of entrepreneurs and business people, causing our nation’s leaders to fall apart under difficult times.
This “disease” is also known as procrastination.
Everybody suffers from it, but only few people try to combat it. Entrepreneurs should be the masters at combating procrastination. Unfortunately, some entrepreneurs find themselves being lured in by the disease without a say in the matter. When the workday is full of things to do, sometimes, entrepreneurs cannot help but think “I’ll check my Facebook really quick, and then I’ll get down to business”. Before they know it, they are checking personal emails, Twitter, MySpace, and LinkedIn. After an hour or two has passed, they’ve realized it: they have procrastinated.
So if you are an entrepreneur struggling to stay on track, here are a few helpful tips to help you stay focused and to keep you motivated.
Tip #1: Write Down Your Tasks
Begin your day by writing down five things that you absolutely must complete by the end of the day. When you actually write something down, you will get a visual of what really needs to be accomplished. If you have various tasks swirling around your head, you may not get anything done.
Tip #2: Break Down Big Projects
Big projects can be intimidating, and when a task is intimidating, you are more likely to put it off. If you look at the big project as a number of smaller tasks, you are more likely to complete it in an adequate about of time. Break down your big project into half-hour to one-hour steps. Each day, set aside time to work on your project and tackle it one step at a time. At the end of each day, you will feel a sense of accomplishment, which can help motivate you for the next day’s work.
Tip #3: Start in the Middle
Actually starting a project is one of the most difficult steps. If you’re having trouble getting a particular task started, try jumping to the second or third step. Look at the theory of a “writer’s block”, for example. When writers have difficulty starting a new novel, they sometimes find themselves working on the middle of the piece first. The same holds true for entrepreneurs. If you’re writing a proposal, jump to the body of it instead of starting with its introduction. As you continue to write, you may begin to develop ideas for the beginning.
Tip #4: Set Time Limits
It is wise to set time limits on the most difficult tasks. If you spend weeks on one project, at the end of each day you may feel under-accomplished. By setting time limits for each project, you will push yourself towards the goal of completing it each and everyday—especially when you keep your eye on the deadline.
Tip #5: Use a Planner
We were all taught in elementary school to use our assignment planners. Today, using planners is just as important. Procrastination is easier to conquer when you have a schedule laid out in front of you. With a schedule, you are able to see when to get things done and how long you have to complete them. Additionally, planners show where your heavy workloads are and when the lighter days stand. This can help you figure out when to start and finish the bigger projects as well.
Tip #6: Expect the Unexpected
Although “expect the unexpected” is a cliché phrase, it is something that must be done in the entrepreneurial world. Always set your schedule so that you have extra time to work on something if need be (you never know when a family member will get sick or when your car will randomly stop working).
Tip #7: Avoid Distractions
Facebook is right there. The television is right there. Your favorite restaurant is right down the street. Your best friend is calling to chat about the latest gossip. All of these activities sound like legitimate ways to take breaks from your stressful workday, but most of them are only distractions. It is important to avoid distractions at all costs. When you notice that many distractions are hitting you throughout the day (for example, your constant urge to check your email, keeping the television on while working, or your cell phone ringing off the hook), you may just want to turn everything off. Resist any temptation.
Tip #8: Save the Vacations for Later
Procrastinators love their vacation time. Many procrastinators find themselves saying “I’ll just have a little fun now, and then finish that later”. Although they may have enough time to accomplish their tasks later, it is always better to finish the work and relax afterwards. In addition, relaxation is always sweeter after an extremely taxing job. You’ve finally deserved it, so it becomes a type of reward.
Tip #9: Focus on the Payoff
By taking your eye off of the particular task and hand and instead, focusing on the happiness and success you’ll gain from completion, you can often keep yourself moving forward.
Tip #10: Reward Yourself
Before you start a project, tell yourself that you’ll reward yourself once you complete it. For smaller projects, tell yourself that you’ll take a walk around the block afterwards, or call a friend to chat for a few minutes. For bigger projects, give yourself more of an incentive. For example, tell yourself that you’ll buy something that you’ve had your eye on for awhile, just for after you finish that particular task. It is a type of goal-setting that combats procrastination.
Remember that entrepreneurs procrastinate, too. Just because entrepreneurs are driven and ambitious people does not mean that they don’t put things off until the last minute. Use these helpful tips to combat the disease of procrastination. You might as well start now—don’t procrastinate getting over procrastination!