Can't focus and missing deadlines left and right? Here's how to take back control.
I hear it all the time: An entrepreneur says she gets nothing done because of her ADD.
But only a physician can diagnose ADD. Most entrepreneurs suffer from chronic procrastination.
"Procrastination is a weakness in the Executive Function of the brain associated with the pre-frontal cortex," says learning disabilities expert Laura Reiff. "The pre-frontal cortex is the part of the brain that affects self-regulating behavior when we take in new information. This is where the planning and generating of strategies originates."
According to Reiff, this weakness can create a lifetime of deeply ingrained destructive behavior, and fixing it doesn't come easy.
How Procrastination Takes a Toll
Procrastination creates a gap between what you intend to do and what actually happens--or not. Ideally, you'll achieve your goals, but in actuality you'll fall short. Experts use the comparison between the Ideal Self and Actual Self to demonstrate the gap.
When we get excited about a new project, we create big goals we hope to achieve. This is your Ideal Self planning what it wants to accomplish. But when the excitement fades away and the work kicks in, the Actual Self takes over and avoidance comes into play.
The problem is this "feel good now, pay later" cycle of behavior only deepens those feelings of failure.
Procrastination versus ADD
Procrastination is often confused with ADD because they seem similar. Disorganization, poor impulse control and planning are all part of the problem.
But according to Reiff, those who suffer from ADD don't store information on what they should be doing whereas a person who procrastinates does, but chooses to not follow through.
How to Conquer Procrastination
Begin by admitting that you have a problem. Then find someone who will hold you accountable as you implement change. As you work through these strategies, remember you have been living with these deep fears for a long time and that they are real. Be gentle with yourself. Since the fears may be deep-rooted, you may want to seek professional help to address them.
Take a Step-By-Step Approach to Goal Setting
First, make your goals smaller and take them one at a time. Allow yourself to experience the feeling of success as you work on your bite-sized goals day after day. You may find the idea of smaller goals frustrating, but consider where your current strategy has gotten you.
Display your monthly schedule and daily to-do lists so that you know exactly what you need to do on an ongoing basis. This will remove the task of figuring out what's next and increase your productivity immensely. You'll also notice a reduction in stress and a feeling of accomplishment as you cross each item off your to-do list.
Track Your Progress
Recognize what triggers you to stray off task by keeping a journal of your daily thoughts and actions. Do you daydream? Allow a continual flow of interruption? Getting really honest can help you learn how to transition between tasks or shift activities without falling into old patterns.
Manage Your Space
Consider different workspaces for different activities
Create an easy color coded filing system
Use post-its as constant reminders for the smallest of tasks
Find a Mentor
This is vital to keeping yourself. You have lived this way for a long time and will need the added support to establish new patterns of behavior that will ensure your success.
Procrastination is a huge issue many entrepreneurs face. The good news is it can be corrected. With hard work, determination, and support, you'll find yourself accomplishing your goals.
For more information on procrastination, check out my interview with Laura Reiff on Million Dollar Mindset radio.
MARLA TABAKA is a small-business adviser who helps entrepreneurs around the globe grow their businesses well into the millions. She speaks widely on combining strategic and creative thinking for optimum success and happiness. @MarlaTabaka