I have something I have to admit…
I used to be a dyed-in-the-wool procrastinator. In fact, according to my Dad, procrastination was the first long word I ever learned, followed quickly by procrastinating and procrastinator.
I think I was 6.
And whether it was cleaning my room, eating my veggies, or getting ready for bed I was already a pro at putting things off.
By the time I hit my teens, I firmly believed the old saying…
“Why do today what you can put off until day after tomorrow?”
Then, in my early twenties, I went back to finish college and something changed. Suddenly I had goals (number one being finish school ASAP), and things I wanted to do in life (start a business, go kayaking, move somewhere amazing). So I started
finding ways to get around my old habits.
Nowadays friends and clients often mention how amazed they are at how much I get done. And sometimes I am too.
With all I have on my plate, if I want to stay successful-and continue to grow my business-procrastination simply can’t be part of the picture.
Of course that’s not to say I don’t ever put things off. It’s just that these days it’s more about deciding what needs doing now versus later.
Unfortunately, not everyone is lucky enough to discover how to stop procrastinating at an early age. So I’m going to share my secrets with you right here and now.
How do I beat back the evil, deadline destroying, sleep deprivation demon that is procrastination?
To this day, I use these few simple tricks to make sure I get everything done.
1) Get organized! One of the most common reasons for not getting things done is lack of organization (if you have to spend half a day looking for the items you need to complete a project, you have a problem).
Set aside a few hours (or days) and get your desk, office, paperwork or business in order. Not sure where to start?
Consider hiring a professional organizer or a business management consultant to help you get your world in order.
2) Tackle the biggest or most unappealing projects first. They are always the easiest to put off because they seem so daunting. But saving them for last just sets you up for stress
and late nights.
3) Break big projects down into smaller bits, and set a deadline for each of those pieces. For example, when it comes to a writing project, I might do research one day, a rough draft another, and headlines on another day. That way, when the final deadline
rolls around, just about everything is already done.
4) Write a to-do list each Monday and put it where you have to look at it every day. Then mark things off as you complete them, and move unfinished items to the new list each week. It’s harder to keep putting something off when it is constantly
staring you in the face.
5) Get a PDA, Blackberry, or I-phone (or at least a day-timer) and schedule time to take care of everything on your list-not just appointments. I like electronic tools because I can set alarms to remind me of what I should be working on. And I turn off my email and phone when I’m working on things so I don’t get interrupted or distracted and run out of time.
6) Tell other people your plans. Knowing that you’ve publicly declared you’re going to do something makes you far more likely to do it, because you have to deliver or risk ruining your reputation.
7) If you know a project is due in 4 weeks, schedule time to work on it at least 3 weeks before deadline. That way, even if you procrastinate some you still have time to get it done and be ahead of the game (If you like to set your clock ten minutes ahead in order to be on time, this trick should work like a charm).
8) Start a rewards system. Tell yourself, “When I finish this project, I’ll go out for dinner, take a vacation, play golf, buy new shoes”…Whatever floats your boat or motivates you to get the job done.
9) Create a timeline for getting everything done. Then set the drop-dead dates in your calendar along with times to take care of the individual pieces. I do this whenever I create a 2-page Marketing Success Action Plan(TM) for my clients, and it does wonders to keep them on track, accountable and moving forward with their marketing.
10) If something sits on your to-do list for more than a few weeks, it’s time to admit you’re probably never going to get it done. That leaves you two choices: take it off your to-do list because it isn’t really that important, or outsource it.
Personally, I’m a big fan of the latter. So I’ve got a bookkeeper, an accountant, a graphic designer, an e-book cover designer, a Web developer, a couple of content writers and a team of virtual assistants who can take care of the things I can’t. Now I get more done with less effort and less stress. Who wouldn’t love that?!
Ready to get serious about beating your procrastination demons? Try combining a few of these tricks together. I promise, once you get in the habit of getting more done, it does get easier. And I bet you’ll be surprised at the positive results.
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With more than 20 years experience running small businesses, author Stacy Karacostas has developed a variety of proven tools, tips and tricks that take the struggle out of growing your small business. Discover all kinds of powerful resources, free for the taking, at [http://www.success-stream.com]