How Procrastination Can Kill Your BusinessThis post may contain affiliate links. Please read our Disclosure for more information.
I meant to write this post six months ago. But I didn’t.
Because …something came up.
I meant to write it again one month ago. But I didn’t.
Because …I was busy with something else.
I meant to start writing it three hours ago. But I didn’t.
Because …I was busy miming Adele’s “Hello“, which I had on repeat twelve times. If my goal was to be the next Adele impersonator, I would have been 6% of the way there.
Unfortunately, it’s not. My goal was to write this post. Quite ironic really! And when I think about it, there has been countless posts, business ideas, books and more that have not come to fruition because of the dreaded “P” word….PROCRASTINATION.
It might be because you’re lazy, you lack self-confidence, you don’t know where to start, or you just plain can’t be bothered – but procrastination happens to even the best of us. Unfortunately, those who have managed to fight off this evil time-wasting disease are having far more successes and better careers; leaving us diseased folk to envy from afar and waving “hello from the other siiiiiiiide”.
Act On Your Inspirations Now – Or Someone Else Will
“I had that idea last year!” You’ve heard variations on this exclamation more than once. Maybe you’ve even uttered it yourself.
I know I have.
Off the top of my head, I can think of 3 AMAZING ideas I had in the past couple of years that someone else had gotten to before I did. I sat on those ideas for months and did nothing, and suddenly someone else announced their “new exciting project”….but wait… that was MY new exciting project!!! I was getting to it! I just didn’t have time, but I was going to do it soon!!
The fact is, a great idea will not make you a single dime if you never do anything with it. Most people don’t leave their ideas on the backburner forever on purpose, but they do let everyday distractions get in the way until that backburner idea is gone or someone else has taken it and run with it.
If you find that you’re constantly kicking yourself because you’re seeing the successes of someone else’s efforts on “your idea”, then let that be a reminder for the next time you “can’t be bothered”. Get off your butt and start putting ideas into action!
Ask Yourself Why
Usually, procrastination comes from a much deeper place than just simple laziness.
If you are always pushing projects back, not answering emails in a timely manner, or delaying the inevitable – then have a serious think about why you do this.
Do you lack confidence in your abilities? If you have a lot of self-doubt, then chances are you are procrastinating because you don’t want to produce any sort of “result” or “end product”. Having an end product means you need to release it, and releasing something to the world can be scary. You’re in a position to be judged, disagreed with, or even ridiculed. So subconsciously you’re probably stopping yourself from producing the end result.
If this is you, then you have a couple of choices. You can either scrap whatever idea you had, and sit back and watch others succeed in reaching their dreams. But hey, at least you will get on with your life, rather than continue to waste time procrastinating on a project you never had the guts to start anyway.
OR you can get over your fears, take action and see what happens. Yes, you may be ridiculed and judged, but it may also be the best thing that will ever happen to you. Why spend forever wondering “what if”, when you can spend a few moments now to find out?
Do you lack motivation? You know exactly what needs to be done, but you just can’t seem to find the energy or willpower to do so. You’d rather wash the dishes, fold the laundry, clean the cat’s poop off the carpet, than to work on your project or task. If it’s truly something worth doing, or needs doing, then you must change your mindset. If it needs doing, then the task is not going to go away. Delaying it will only cause more stress down the track. And if it is worth doing, then try to visualize the end result.
What are you looking to achieve once that project or task is complete, and imagine yourself in that position of freedom and achievement. Is that ultimate goal not more worthy of your time right now, than making sure your underwear is trifolded and color coordinated in the drawer?
Are you overwhelmed? Your to-do list has exploded (probably snowballed from previous sessions of procrastination), and now you are stressed, don’t know where to start, and it’s just easier to “get to it later” after a bag of Cheetos and a few episodes of Game of Thrones. Well, chances are, the stress will be even worse once your GoT-fix is over and ten new tasks will have been added to your list during that time. Instead of avoiding it, you need to face it head on.
Write down everything you need to get done on your to-do list, and sort them in order of priority. Break down big tasks into smaller tasks and be realistic. There is no point torturing yourself and saying your 30,000 word thesis is “HIGH PRIORITY AND MUST BE DONE TODAY” when you haven’t even written a single paragraph. Instead, break it down and say the first 2000 words is high priority and due today. The next 2000 is medium priority and due tomorrow, and so on. That way, you are setting realistic and achievable goals, allowing you to see progress, which will actually help to motivate you in continuing the rest of the bigger tasks.
Beware of “Procrastination Justification”
I do it. Cam does it. We all do it at some point. Procrastination Justification is our way of making other, less important tasks appear more important and urgent, to justify why we are not working on the real important task. It makes us feel less guilty about wasting our time, because if we can justify it, then we’re not wasting our time….right?
– You’re supposed to be creating content for your website, but SUDDENLY you MUST clean your computer. It cannot wait any longer (even though it’s never been cleaned in the last 3 years you’ve had it). How can you possibly create ANY content for your site, unless your files were properly labelled and your desktop is neat?
– You sit down to finally start your content creation. Oh but wait…what’s that? Is that a cloud in the sky? Yes, you heard there might be rain this week. Hmm, better put a load of washing on so it can dry before the rain gets here. Yes, you have plenty of clean shirts you could wear, but your FAVORITE is in the dirty pile and you MUST have that ready for tomorrow!
– Ok, this is it. After a week of not having achieved much, you’ve decided today is the day you will get something done! But let’s check Facebook first. In case there’s something URGENT there you can’t miss. Oh, what’s that? Amy Porterfield has a new webinar training out?! It starts in 20 minutes?! You love Amy Porterfield and you’ve seen all of her last 6 webinars! Yes, you haven’t done anything with the information you’ve learnt from the other 6 either. But THIS ONE will be the one you don’t want to miss! You can feel it. Content creation can wait another day….but this 7th webinar cannot…Beware of Procrastination Justification. Click To Tweet
You see, just because you can justify it in some twisted way, it doesn’t mean it’s right. At the end of the day, chances are you will have a clean desktop, fresh laundry and another webinar up your sleeve. But none of those things will have helped you to achieve your dreams or your goals. In fact, I can almost guarantee that it is at this point you begin to feel frustrated at how little you actually got done, and start to make comments like “how fast the day goes” or how there are just “not enough hours in the day”. There are enough hours, you just decided to spend it all on cleaning your favorite shirt, instead of achieving your life’s dreams.
Everyone Procrastinates – Including Your All Trustworthy Employees
Procrastination is not just your own personal problem, either. According to CNBC, the average office worker admits to wasting just over 2 hours of time on the clock every day with activities that are not related to their jobs.
That’s ¼ of an 8-hour workday. Not only does that mean you’re losing money, paying for time that’s not spent working, but you’re also losing precious time on projects and deadlines.
A lot of companies ban access to social media sites and other recreational websites, but almost everyone has a smartphone now. Your employees might not be able to check Facebook or Instagram on their work computers, but they can always pull their phones out and check them – which, in my opinion, is even worse because they are constantly taking their attention away from the computer to check their devices!
Restricting access and making rules about cell phone use will only create a stifled and even hostile work environment. You don’t want your employees to feel like Big Brother is watching them; you want them to feel inspired to work hard and to develop and create great products and services. You can increase productivity in a number of ways that won’t get you a reputation as a tyrant or inspire your employees to sneak their distractions behind your back.
– Contract-Based Pay
Especially if you’re company has just launched, you may want to hire employees on a contract basis. This way you’re paying them for their work, not for their hours. Depending on your field, you can provide a workspace or conduct all of your meetings virtually and have your employees work remotely. Either way, if you set hard deadlines and pay for the work, rather than the time it takes to do it, your employees will be motivated to work quickly and efficiently.
– Employee Shares in Profits
If you’re a little bit more established, or you’d like to hire full-time employees rather than contractors, you may want to consider making each employee a shareholder in your company. Essentially, if you give your employees stock in your company, you’re giving them a greater incentive to help the company succeed.
– Set Targets & KPIs
You hear these often if you are a sales-based business, but this method can also work wonders for all types of businesses. Setting targets or KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) for your employees means that they have their own goals to achieve, and they need to report back to you with the result. This gives them accountability for the time they spend at work, because they are the ones that need to explain to the boss why they only managed to answer 5 emails in an 8 hour shift! It also allows you to keep track of what they are working on, ensuring they get the support and motivation they need to do the job properly!
Above all else, don’t let your employees see you relaxing when you’re telling them that they should be sweating. When you clock in for the day, you should be on task and ready to go.That’s not to say that you need to be 100% serious all the time, but remember that you are your employees’ leader. If they see you slacking off and procrastinating, they won’t see any reason to stay on task, themselves.