As an entrepreneur, there are certain times in your life that you will never forget: your first sale, your first customer review, and sometimes even the day you landed the client of your dreams.
They're just like those small moments you constantly remember from your childhood. I vividly recall a time when my mother stormed into my room at night to remind me for the last time to walk the dog, and to stop procrastinating. I thought to myself, "Procrastinating, what's that?"
Little did I know that the word would stick with me for the rest of my life. It's something plenty of others complain about, and I'm owning up to it.
You see, my brain works like this: A task is due on Tuesday at 2 p.m., and that's the time that gets ingrained into my psyche. That's when it's actually necessary to get it done and send it over.
I have no filter to say, "Hey, maybe I should get that done early so I don't have to worry about it later." It just goes straight into the procrastination folder.
That's how I've always been, so I've figured out how to work it to my best abilities. For others, it stresses them out beyond belief. It causes them sleepless nights, heart palpitations, and even cold sweats. (OK, maybe it doesn't wreak that much havoc.)
There's probably be a better way to do things. I'm the first person to admit that I'm generally overwhelmed with work and stress, and if something is doing me more harm than good, I need to make some changes.
I've started using the following three strategies to beat my procrastination, and become more productive both in my personal and professional life.
1. The two-minute rule
If you haven't read David Allen's bestselling book Getting Things Done, here's your official notice. He discusses something called the two-minute rule. It seems easy, but most people let it slip by.
It's surprising how many things we put off that we could get done in two minutes or less. For example, washing your dishes immediately after your meal, tossing the laundry into the washing machine, taking out the garbage, cleaning up clutter, sending that email, and so on. The goal is to accomplish small tasks in the moment, because if they take less than two minutes to do, then you can avoid ever adding them to your to-do list.
I have a business flight coming up, and the company booking it asked for my frequent flyer number. Instead of looking for it while I was speaking to them, I said I'd follow up on it.
It would have taken less than a minute. Now, it's something that has to rattle around in the back of my head until I either take the time to do it or forget about it completely and miss out on those extra miles.
Don't do this. We all have enough truly important tasks to worry about to let something small cause undue stress.
2. Planning out your day
You know what's better than writing out your to-do list for the day? Crossing things off of it.
Celebrate your successes throughout the day, from small things like getting a good business review to big things like landing your dream client. I like to keep a journal and write out important things to remember, and separate out my most important tasks for the day.
When you don't get every single thing crossed off for the day, don't beat yourself up. Find a way to fit it into your schedule for the next day and remember to make it a priority.
3. Keeping yourself accountable
Nothing keeps me in line more than the expectations of my friends, team members, and family. Have you ever noticed how quickly you clean your home when someone is coming over? It's just like that.
If you want to stop procrastinating, inject someone into the situation who will ensure you get it done. If you're looking for an extra boost at work, partner up with someone who will keep you on your toes, and that you work well with. Together, you can accomplish more than when you're flying solo.
Being a procrastinator isn't the worst thing in the world. At least, I hope not. But when it leads to additional stress and disappointment in your life, it sure can feel like it.
By making a few small changes throughout your day, you can improve both your self-confidence and your productivity.