“Procrastination is the fear of success. People procrastinate because they are afraid of the success that they know will result if they move ahead now. Because success is heavy, carries a responsibility with it, it is much easier to procrastinate and live on the “someday I’ll” philosophy.” – Denis Waitley
A couple of weeks back, I was at a business retreat on the fringes of Lagos State precisely in Badagry. It was three days of intensive learning and re-learning of what we needed to do to run our businesses efficiently and strategically in a fast changing world as well as unlearning those bad habits that stand as stumbling blocks on the path to entrepreneurial success.
In one of our brainstorming sessions, we were asked to do what in common parlance is called a SWOT Analysis of our businesses. ‘SWOT’ stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats peculiar to our different businesses. It was an interesting session because it made us think deeply about the internal and external forces that affect our businesses either positively or negatively.
When it came to discussing weaknesses, Procrastination took the front seat. As a small business owner, I had believed before then that this weakness was peculiar to me. But I was wrong. The question then became, how can we deal with procrastination or leaving what should be done now or today for later?
I call it the “later Syndrome”.
Listening to my colleagues, I knew that like me, a lot more out there are suffer from this deadly weakness called procrastination, and I thought I should share a few tips on how we can deal with procrastination:
1. Do one thing at a Time
Entrepreneurs have so much to do in a day. Often times if not all the time, this results in procrastination. To overcome this challenge, do one thing at a time. Even in this era of multi-tasking, you still cannot do two things at a time and do both well. And if you consider the task or project too large, break them into manageable bits, and take the bits one at a time.
2. Focus on the Most Important Task
On a daily basis learn to focus on the most important task first particularly if it’s those that put money in the bank, and let the least important sleep in the file until you’re ready for them.
3. Start with the Hardest Task of the day
If you start your day this way you will feel relieved, feel relaxed and good about yourself. And the rest of the day – and your to-do list – tends to feel a lot lighter and easier to move through. It’s amazing what difference this one action makes.
And as Dale Carnegie said: “Do the hard jobs first. The easy jobs will take care of themselves.”
4. Stop thinking, just do it
A major cause of procrastination is the time we waste thinking about a task or project rather than just doing it. As the Chinese says: “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a step”, but we need to take that first step first. Thinking about a project or task is good, but remember you will not be scored on how long you sat thinking but on the realisation of the task or project at hand.
“To think too long about doing a thing often becomes its undoing” – Eva Young
5. Be an Incurable Optimist
Many a time, we’re burdened by self-doubt as to whether we can or cannot undertake a task or project, and what do we do? We keep it for later. To conquer procrastination, you must be an incurable optimist. See yourself as a conqueror and know that mistakes are stepping stones to greatness because they make you experts in your field.
“It always seems impossible, until it’s done” –Nelson Mandela.
6. Keep Perfectionism in the Cooler
Most people are incurable perfectionist. They want to show the world how good they are, and so they spend precious time thinking and planning until the project becomes too large to handle. If you find yourself procrastinating out of perfectionism, you can help yourself by relaxing your standards. Shoot for ‘good enough’ and work your way up to ‘great’ if you have the time and energy. Don’t let the goal of perfection keep you from starting!
7. Purposely Turn off Your TV and Facebook for a While
Many of us spend a lot of precious time surfing TV channels or on social networks that we forget there are things to do. It’s not as if these activities are bad in themselves, but if you allow them eat into your work schedule then procrastination is knocking at the door.
So what do you do? – Purposely stay off them and then set out designated times for watching TV, facebooking or even chatting with friends online.
8. Reward Yourself
Oftentimes, when its homework time and I want my children to get off their cartoon, I offer a reward for anyone who finishes his or her homework on time. You too can reward yourself for accomplishing a task or project on time without putting off it off for later. Try it.
9. Set a Time for the Completion of Any Task or Project
Set a time for the completion of any task or project and stick to it because if you don’t you’ll forever be leaving for later. If you set a time for completion, it gets into your consciousness and never gets off your back until you do it. Fear of not meeting a deadline can be very disturbing.
10. Tell Others about It
Another way of overcoming procrastination aside delegating is to tell or discuss with your colleagues, your spouse or friend about how important the project or task is. If your wife is like mine, she will never get off your back until you start and report to her that you’re done.
11. Choose those you flock with
The people you flock with may help you accomplish a task or project quicker or turn you into a chronic procrastinator. If you flock with those are forever at the bar or joint when you have a job to do, you’re likely to become a procrastinator. And if you flock with those who manage their time well, they’re likely to rob off on you. So make your choice.
These tips are by no means exhaustible, but if you on keep working on yourself, your time management and prioritization skills, you will sooner eat up the frog called procrastination.
Eating frogs is no doubt a difficult task, but what do you do, if all it takes to get to the next level is eating the frog? So, eat the frog.
Have you been eating your frog(s)? Please share your strategies below.