I’ve had a heap of conversations about overcoming procrastination – and not just recently.
It can show up at ANY time ⌚
and for some of us… too much of the time.
I’ve taken the challenge to discover why it’s showing up in my life more, and to taking steps to eradicate it all together.
Because not getting work done will affect more than just the bank balance.
So, what is procrastination really?
…making a decision for no valid reason to delay or not complete a task or goal
you’ve committed too, and instead doing something of lesser importance,
despite there being negative consequences to not following through on the original task or goal.
As business owners we know how challenging it can be to balance all the responsibilities that come with running a business. With so many tasks to take care of, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, and fall into a procrastination habit.
Procrastination can cause us stress as we fall behind on essential tasks, missed opportunities, and struggle to achieve our goals.
Nothing robs us of our potential as much as wasted time.
Firstly, we have to understand why we procrastinate.
It may be –
- Fear of Failure
One of the most common reasons people procrastinate is the fear of failure. When we are afraid of not succeeding, we may avoid taking action to protect ourselves from the pain of disappointment or rejection. This fear can be particularly acute for women in small business, we may feel like we have more to lose if our ventures fail.
Women in small business are often juggling multiple responsibilities, from managing finances to marketing their brand and providing customer service. The sheer volume of tasks can feel overwhelming, leading to procrastination as a way of avoiding the stress and pressure.
- Lack of Motivation
Another common reason people procrastinate is a lack of motivation. When we don’t feel inspired or excited about a task, it can be challenging to summon the energy and focus to complete it. For women in small business, finding motivation can be particularly challenging, as the day-to-day tasks of running a business can feel monotonous or uninspiring.
Perfectionism is another common reason people procrastinate. When we set high standards for ourselves and fear falling short, we may avoid taking action altogether. For women in small business, perfectionism can be particularly detrimental, as it can lead to paralysis and prevent them from making progress towards their goals.
What’s the difference between procrastination and avoidance?
There’s a fine line between procrastination and avoidance.
While procrastination can be a temporary delay in taking action on a task, avoidance is a more persistent and habitual pattern of behaviour that can have significant consequences.
Avoidance can stem from a deeper emotional or psychological issue, such as anxiety, fear, or trauma. It may involve avoiding not only tasks related to business but also social situations, personal relationships, or self-care.
To distinguish between procrastination and avoidance, it’s essential to examine the root cause of the behaviour.
Procrastination is often driven by external factors such as workload, lack of motivation, or perfectionism. In contrast, avoidance is typically driven by internal factors such as anxiety, fear, or a sense of inadequacy.
Maybe I’m just lazy
Laziness is a habit of avoiding work or exertion. It is a lack of desire or willingness to do anything productive, and it often involves doing nothing at all. Unlike procrastination, laziness is not a temporary state of mind but a persistent pattern of behaviour.
You’re not lazy.
Maybe I just need a break
I’m a big advocate for self-care and giving yourself time out to rest, relax and recharge.
But there’s a difference between needing time off versus finding excuses because you just can’t be bothered.
Take that break, if you really need it.
How do I know if I’m procrastinating?
Recognising when we are procrastinating can be challenging because it can be a subtle and gradual process. However, there are several signs that can indicate that we are procrastinating, including:
- Delaying or postponing tasks that need to be completed, even when they are essential or urgent.
- Feeling overwhelmed or stressed by the thought of a task and avoiding it altogether.
- Finding yourself distracted by non-essential tasks such as checking email.
- Spending time scrolling Instagram reels or your Facebook feed.
- Spend hours hanging out in Canva making the ‘perfect’ quote image (that never gets posted).
- Feeling uninspired by social media.
- Being distracted by other activities that are not related to the task at hand.
- Starting a task but failing to complete it, or taking longer than necessary to finish it.
- Making excuses or rationalising why you cannot complete a task at this moment.
- Feeling guilty or ashamed about not completing a task or not meeting your goals.
If you find yourself exhibiting any of these behaviours, it may be a sign that you are procrastinating.
Becoming aware of these signs is the first step to ditching procrastination and taking action towards achieving your goals.
Practical strategies to kicking the procrastination habit
It’s important to have some tricks up your sleeve to implement when procrastination rears its ugly head.
Try these –
- Remind Yourself. Take a moment to remember WHY you want and need to do the thing you’ve been putting off. Connecting with the why is really important when it comes to motivation, willpower, and overcoming procrastination.
- Reframe failure. To overcome this fear, it’s essential to reframe failure as a learning experience and a necessary part of growth. Recognising that failure is not the end of the world can help us take risks and move forward.
- Setting specific goals. You can focus your attention and energy on the tasks that will help you achieve those goals.
- Start Small. If you’re feeling lost attempting to launch yourself into a mammoth project to get yourself back on track isn’t gonna work. Breaking larger tasks into smaller, more manageable steps can also help you feel less overwhelmed and more motivated to take action.
- Track your time and activities. By tracking your time, you can identify when you are spending time on non-essential tasks or delaying important tasks. You can then use this information to create a plan for prioritizing your time and completing essential tasks.
- Recognise the diversion activities that you use. Be aware of the unhelpful excuses you use, that may show up in one or more areas of your life.
- Prioritise. Schedule time into your diary. Block specific time in your calendar to get started and be aware to the actual task you are completing. Don’t try and do too much in one go, and work with your daily energy levels.
- Remove distractions. Close your email down, turn off the notifications on your phone, log out of social media, and effectively put blinkers on so that the only thing you focus on during that block of time is the task you’ve been putting off.
- Reward Yourself. Setting an appropriate gift to yourself can be incentive enough to pull you through to the end of your task. It doesn’t have to cost you money but it does have to inspire you.
- Recognise your self-talk. Procrastination requires an internal dialogue. You encourage others, try encouraging yourself and pat yourself on the back for a change.
- Set yourself a time limit. Sometimes just having a set time in which to complete your task is enough to get it done.
- Start. It doesn’t have to be big and it doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to begin. Mistakes are a natural part of the learning process. Embracing a growth mindset and focus on progress rather than perfection can help you move past perfectionistic tendencies and take action.
By understanding the reasons behind procrastination and developing strategies to kick the habit, we can stay focused and committed to achieving our goals and build successful and thriving businesses that support us, our families, and our communities.
So, confession time.
What are you procrastinating over at the moment?
Get in touch and I’ll do my best to give you a nudge in the right direction and take your accountability up a notch or more.
I promise it’ll help and you’ll be glad you did when that thing you’ve been putting off is FINALLY DONE (it’ll feel SO good to put a line through that job on your to-do list!).
PS. If you feel that you are struggling with avoidance you may benefit from seeking support from a mental health professional who can help address the underlying issues that contribute to the avoidance behaviour. Therapy can provide a safe and supportive environment to explore and process any difficult emotions and develop practical strategies to overcome avoidance to achieve your personal and business goals.
PPS. While procrastination can be overcome with practical strategies and mindset shifts, laziness requires a more significant change in behaviour and motivation. Overcoming laziness often involves developing a strong work ethic, setting clear goals, and cultivating self-discipline.