Procrastination is not a time management issue, as many believe it to be; it is a stress response. Nearly everyone has engaged in delay tactics to put something off, it's natural. However, if you put things off to the point that it becomes detrimental to your business, it becomes a problem. Yet, procrastination is often confused with laziness and poor time management skills.
The act of procrastinating does not define you, nor does it mean that you're lazy. It certainly does not mean that you are any less capable of achieving success. However, if it's a chronic problem, it will diminish your odds of success.
In my work with entrepreneurs, I encounter the procrastination issue frequently. Why? Because procrastination is a stress response. Whether you are under pressure to meet a deadline or you're going through difficult times, there are plenty of opportunities for stress to seep in when you own a business. Of course, everyone responds differently to stress, but for those who develop the pattern of putting things off, there is the danger of falling into what's called procrastination accumulation effect. The more that is left undone, the worse things get, and that leads to added pressure. This type of stress may include feelings of inadequacy, guilt about what is left undone, and fear of failure.
It's important to understand a few facts about procrastination, as well as how to address it. Keep in mind that there are many emotions involved when procrastination becomes a problem. Therefore, it's always wise to consider getting support from a mental health provider.
1. You've trained your brain to procrastinate.
Do you ever sit down to get some work done only to find yourself getting lost in social media or some other form of meaningless activity? If you do this often enough, it becomes an addictive tendency. You've trained your brain to respond to stress by playing video games, browsing online, napping, or whatever it is you get lost in.
Break this pattern by first acknowledging that the habit is problem-causing, then put a time limit on such activities. Set a timer for five minutes and reduce the time limit every day. If you want to go cold turkey, that's great. But first, let's take a look at what may have led you to the habit in the first place.
2. Lack of clarity leads to stalling tactics.
When an entrepreneur is not clear on their business model, and thesteps to take to achieve success, they can become practically crippled by stress. You might do some work but not the work that matters.
Do you know what your vision is? Are you confident about its viability? Do you have a step-by-step plan to achieve your goals? If you don't know where you're going, you can't possibly get there. Of course, you will get lost in some form of procrastination. If you haven't figured these things out by now, you probably won't. Not until you get qualified help to create clarity and a plan. Mentors are a powerful resource, but their time will be limited. Take the plunge into coaching, and you will find the answers.
3. Procrastination may be a sign that you hate what you do.
One of the leading causes of stress in entrepreneurs is a lack of money, which means they can't afford hiring or outsourcing. Now, you've taken on so much of the mechanical work required to keep the business going that you don't have the time to grow your business. What's frustrating is that you procrastinate doing the work. Of course, you don't want to do the bookkeeping, customer service, and packing and shipping--you're an entrepreneur, and these activities do not grow your customer list.
In reality, the cost savings that you associate with doing the work yourself is an illusion. If you had an extra 20-hours a week to work on growth, could you increase your revenue? Yes, most likely. If you work diligently to save every penny for a short time, you'll most likely be able to hire a part-time helper for non-entrepreneurial tasks. Even if it's only enough for a month or two of payroll, it will help. Spend your time focusing on the entrepreneurial work that drives profits, and you'll be able to bankroll a team before long.
4. Self-doubt and fear lead to procrastinative habits.
Fear is at the root of just about any stress-related behavior. If you're at all familiar with my work, you've seen me ask this question: What are the negative consequences that you associate with achieving success? If your subconscious mind weren't harboring concerns of this nature, then you would have already achieved your vision or gotten close to it. You may doubt your ability; some people question if they deserve success. Some are afraid that they would not be capable of sustaining the hard work they associate with success. And, many entrepreneurs suffer from imposter syndrome. Therefore, they procrastinate because it wards off any risk of being exposed to the negative consequences that they perceive as inevitable.
Again, this is common and normal--there is nothing wrong with you. Fortunately, the stigma associated with therapy and coaching has finally shifted. Entrepreneurs understand that they should not be on their journey alone. Whether you work with a coach and/or a therapist, your odds of success will exponentially increase once you believe in yourself and your vision.