Whether it’s putting off that next deadline or waiting to start up your company in the first place, procrastination is the small business owner’s mortal enemy. So how can you be sure that you’re not delaying important projects longer than needed — for whatever deeply rooted reason. Here members of the Small Business Trends community share some of their own solutions — and in one case the fact that the search for a solution is ongoing.
Tips on How to Avoid Procrastination
Consider the Old Fashioned To-Do List
“I’m old fashioned, I make to-do lists,” says David Leonhardt, President of THGM Writers. “I usually number items by how important they are, but I always first end up quickly doing the low-hanging fruit that take just a few minutes. Once it feels like I’ve taken a bite out of the list, I have an easier time focusing on the things that most need my attention.”
Schedule Everything in Blocks
“When it comes to action items, I think one of the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs and business owners make is operating from one long list,” says Pratik Dholakiya, founder of The 20 Media. “Let’s face it, most of us will add to the list faster than we can clear the items and resolve issues, so from a motivational perspective, that doesn’t work; it can be demoralizing, and makes it easier to set it aside.
My secret is to schedule everything in blocks on my calendar. I do have one list, but I assign days and times the same way as I schedule meetings, to clear my action items. It’s a method that works in many ways. First, I get reminders in my calendar that prompts me to action. Second, my immediate team can see when I am busy, and it helps minimize disruptions when I am focused on a scheduled task. Third, when the item is done, I have a record that I can scroll back to, and an opportunity to make notes on the issue or task that I may need to revisit with staff or clients later.
With my calendar synced to my phone, it’s an efficient way to organize a busy schedule, and eliminate the temptation to procrastinate.”
Provide Constant Reminders
“There’s no secret sauce when it comes to procrastination-busting endeavors, in my opinion,” says Ivan Widjaya, owner and editor of Noobpreneur.com “What I always do to keep myself — and those who work for me — in check is by constant reminders of how important it is to do things promptly through various simple ways.
Here’s a simple, practical example: My smartphone’s lock screen always show a wallpaper with these words right at the center: “JUST DO”. Whenever I want to check my smartphone for work, “work” or entertainment, whether I like it or not I always read the words first. For some reasons, it works for me, as I’m always reminded not to procrastinate and stuck too long in thoughts, including analysis paralysis.
Here’s another example: For my team members, I usually send over friendly reminders regarding the deadline of a particular project. Just a simple text/email, like ‘Heya, how are things? We’re on track with XYZ project, right?’ or ‘I think you’re a bit late in delivering XYZ — anything that I can help you with to speed things up?”
“Segmenting my days, weeks or even hours helps a great deal,” says Stoney G. deGeyter, CEO and Project Manager at Pole Position Marketing. “I have certain days where I do certain tasks. For example, my writing days are Wednesday and Friday. On those days writing becomes my highest priority over everything else. As such, my routine will differ than on other days. Where I might work through email first thing in the morning every other day of the week, on a writing day, I will choose to ignore email until I get my writing done.
This can work with almost anything. Decide what tasks can be segmented and then focus on those tasks only on those days. It makes it easier to focus on them and simple do them when you cut out everything else.”
Target the To-Dos You Avoid
“I love to-do lists and the satisfaction from crossing off an item,” says Robert Brady, founder of Righteous Marketing. “However, there are always tasks I avoid and put off. When I notice this, I create a new to-do list on a sticky note that only contains three to-dos. I don’t move on until those are knocked out.”
Always Plan Properly
“I find that proper planning helps me avoid procrastination,” says Gary Shouldis, CEO of 3Bug Media “Every Sunday evening I spend time planning out my week ahead. I go over my goals for the week and the action steps I need to take in order to accomplish them. Then I put them on my daily schedule, making sure to schedule the most important things in the morning. So every morning when I start work, I know exactly what I need to accomplish and the action steps needed to get it done.
I find not having to make these planning decisions every day helps me avoid procrastination and lets me jump right into my work. I aim for having the big things done before noon, as the afternoon is usually when things go sideways with phone calls, meetings, and other unexpected items.”
Try a Project Management Tool
“I personally use a project management tool called Trello, for multiple departments in my company, but also for myself,” says Andrew Gazdecki, CEO at Bizness Apps “I have a personal to-do list board that has daily tasks to complete, weekly tasks, monthly tasks, and even ideas. This gives me a birds eye view on what I should be focusing on in the short term and long term. I’m also able to attach due dates to each of these and move say a daily task over to a weekly task in case I am unable to complete the task on time. For me, this works really well because if you don’t keep track of what you need to work on, you’ll struggle with prioritization of your work.”
If Procrastination is Still a Problem, Keep Seeking a Solution
“I have yet to discover that secret, which is why I’m answering you at 1:05 in the morning,” admits Rieva Lesonsky, CEO and President of GrowBizMedia and SmallBizDaily.com “Can’t wait to read the secrets of others.”
Clock Photo via Shutterstock