Stop Procrastination! (Now, Not Tomorrow)
Nearly every day, clients and prospective clients come to me with a big idea or project they want to tackle. Some are brimming with excitement, others with concern. Either way, some jump right in while others just seem to stall.
Procrastination is something we’ve all been guilty of now and then. (My particular form of procrastination includes coffee, excessive organizing, and some form of social media.) It's that sneaky habit that creeps in and hampers our productivity, leaving us feeling stressed and behind schedule.
Whatever the specifics, I think it stems from a perception that their project will be difficult, expensive, or confusing. The key word is perception.
How then, can we get moving when stalled on a new project? Here are some tactics that have worked for me.
1. Know what you need to know and what you don’t. There are some projects where it is essential to understand exactly how something is set up. There are others where you only need to know enough to keep things going. Take setting up an email newsletter, for example. If setting up a newsletter software like Mailerlite is not intuitive for you, and you’re wasting hours doing something you don’t love, let someone else do the initial setup. You can still handle it monthly from there, even if you were not the one to build it in the first place.
2. Ask the question: What other information do I need? Sometimes we need to do research to get started with a project; sometimes we already have all the information. Here's the secret: you don't always need to have everything figured out from the get-go. Take a step back and ask yourself if you already have enough information to start. If you need more information, decide specifically what that is and make a plan to get it. Don't get caught up in overthinking and endless analysis. If you have everything, look at it all together so you can see the big picture of the project to feel more confident.
3. Don’t ask for too many opinions. As entrepreneurs, we often seek advice from our loved ones. While their support is valuable, ask yourself how much they really know about the decision you’re trying to make. When it comes to logo design, for example, I trust my designer, not my friend who’s good with colors (even though she may have a strong opinion). When it comes to choosing software to run my business, I listen to others who have made this decision before me. Asking for too much input is often just another way of procrastinating.
4. Break the project down into categories. Something like redesigning your website can seem like a huge task, a recipe for procrastination. But if you break it down into bite-sized categories or tasks, you’ll see more manageable chunks of work. In this case, start with the homepage and make a list of what you want to include – things like Facebook and LinkedIn social media icons, a headshot of yourself, a testimonial from a client, and a link to your calendar. The point is, be as specific as you can and take it one step at a time.
5. Don’t keep the details in your head – write them down. When I don’t have a written plan, I can spend hours spinning my wheels trying to remember what I’ve done and what to do next. Spend time upfront to write a detailed plan (or on your favorite task management app) in order to see the entire project. It will save time and work.
6. Leave perfectionism behind. Ah, perfectionism—the arch-nemesis of progress. We often delay taking action because we want everything to be flawless. But here's the reality: perfection is an illusion. It’s better to get started and improve the work rather than wait until you have every detail just right. Focus on delivering quality work within reasonable timeframes, and remember that you can always refine and improve along the way. You’ll learn as you go and make it better over time. Businesses evolve all the time – so develop the improvement muscle and you’ll be able to stay current with what your business needs.
Overall, the hardest part of any new project is getting started. Apply these six simple ideas and put procrastination away forever!