Still Procrastinating? Why Productivity Tricks Fail
BY Marla Tabaka
To-do lists and time-management tricks can only do much. If you really want to stop pushing off the tough stuff, look deeper.
What have you been procrastinating about lately? Can you list 10 things?
These are two important questions posed on my client in-take questionnaire. About 90 percent of the responses include at least seven major projects that are not getting to done. And most of time it is not a result of poor time management.
Sure, things like to-do lists, accountability partners, time chunking, and a just-do-it attitude will help in cases where you have time constraints and feel overwhelmed. However, in my experience as a coach, most procrastinators have a much larger issue at hand.
Are you a chronic procrastinator? If you don't explore the root of the problem it can have serious consequences on your business, your life, and the lives of those you care about. It may also affect your mental and physical health if left unchecked for a long period of time.
The Real Problem
So if it's not merely a time management issue, what's going on? Simply put, it's fear. But we don't always recognize our fears, or we push them away. To create change it's important to explore the reason behind your procrastination issues and begin resolving them at the core.
Let me give you some examples from recent coaching sessions:
Before: Jean has a business partner who is not pulling his weight. While she has invested a lot of time and money into the business, he has not. Up until recently her passion for the product has driven her to grow the company, but with international growth opportunities on the horizon Jean has suddenly shut down. Instead of taking the next steps Jean preoccupied herself with menial tasks. As a result, she came into our coaching session referring to herself as lazy and complacent. But nothing could have been further from the truth.
After: Jean was convinced that she really didn't mind her partner's lack of commitment, but she was fooling herself. Not until the partnership issue was resolved would Jean be totally on board with going global. So a revision of their agreement was the next step. The partner understands that his current life circumstances are temporarily preventing him from contributing significantly to the business so he didn't resist an amendment to their partnership agreement. Once their partnership arrangement was modified Jean returned to her ambitious and driven self and is fulfilling her first European order this week.
Before: Robert's business allowed him to put a roof over his family's head and food on the table, but like most entrepreneurs he wanted more. He had a concept for growth that could multiply his earnings and open doors to greater opportunities. Of course there was no guarantee of success. Although Robert was fairly confident about his concept he'd been postponing the next steps for over a year.
After: What Robert learned through our discussion was that he saw this concept as his last opportunity for success. He had no other ideas and believed that if this one didn't work he would be doomed to struggle for the rest of his life. As long as Robert held onto his plan for growth there was always hope. But if it didn't work, all hope would be lost.
Again, this was far from true. After working through his fears, Robert launched his concept and other ideas were born. Today his business is thriving and growing, as is his bank account.
How to Confront Your Fear
If you are procrastinating on business growth opportunities, or even important personal issues, ask yourself these questions:
What are the NEGATIVE consequences of taking the next steps?
What are the negative consequences of success?
You may have to dig deep and push yourself to find the answers. But I promise you, there is something far beyond poor time management buried beneath your procrastination problem.
So now what? When you find your reason for putting things off how do you make it go away?
First, congratulate yourself because you are much closer to the solution. Recognizing and facing your fear is a huge step toward success and sometimes that is enough. You already may be inspired to take small steps toward your goal. Now is the time to put those time management techniques to use. Each bit of progress will encourage you to continue forward with bigger steps.
But you may need help to pinpoint and resolve your unconscious concerns, and that is okay. Too many brilliant ideas never see the light of day because people refuse to ask for help. Remember, successful people don't do it alone. Therapy, coaching, mentoring, and methods like The Emotional Freedom Techniques are some very promising options. Go ahead. Ask for a little help and see how far it goes.
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