You are completely overwhelmed… You don’t have time… You just really don’t want to do that thing. The reason you put it off doesn’t matter. That dirty job must be done. We’ve all procrastinated before, but procrastination shouldn’t be a way of life, especially for an entrepreneur. So, without further ado, here’s how to quit stalling.
1 – Inventory what really needs to be done.
If you feel overwhelmed, things may not be as bad as you think. If you wanted to take six tennis courts and cover them with fog ten feet deep, you’d only need an 8-ounce glass of water. Write out what your task really requires, and you may find that your lion is more like a kitten.
2 – Break the job into pieces.
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time, of course. Divide a big task into smaller milestones, and give yourself a mini-deadline for each piece. Then only think about the milestone right in front of you.
3 – Start right now.
This doesn’t mean get it done right now. You don’t even have to do a big piece of the job right now. Just take the very first baby step, even if that step is writing the thing on your to-do list or writing down an idea of how to do the thing later.
4 – Ask for help or advice.
Friends, family, or folks at work may have done something similar in the past and be able to give you some pointers, shortcuts, or ideas to make the task more manageable. Or you may be able to delegate.
5 – Make a realistic schedule.
Planning to do something at a certain time increases the chances that you’ll actually do it. Just make sure you only assign yourself as much as you can handle at one time. Otherwise, you’ll have a hard time getting yourself to do it.
6 – Think about the benefits of doing it early.
If nothing else, doing something early gives you peace of mind. But I bet if you think about it, you can come up with some other benefits specific to this job. If you go early, you beat the rush. If you pay early, it costs less. If you do it early, you can laugh at the people who didn’t. The possibilities are endless.
7 – Think about the consequences of doing it late.
If you get a splinter in your finger, digging out that sucker hurts. But it doesn’t hurt as much as leaving it in there for three days and THEN digging it out. Same with the junk you have to do. If you put it off until later, it weighs on your mind and causes you stress. Why add to the pain? And just like an ignored splinter causes swelling that makes it harder to deal with later, ignoring a job means closer deadlines, fewer opportunities, and other issues you don’t want.
8 – Move up the due date.
Set an earlier completion goal for yourself. Work is like water—if you give it space to spread out, it will. Focusing on an earlier due date triggers that feeling of “oh, no, it’s due, like, right now!” before you’re actually in danger of missing your deadline.
9 – Cherry pick.
Do the quick and easy stuff first, and get it out of the way. A list of 3 hard things is easier to face than a list of 12 things, 3 of which are hard.
10 – Set priorities.
Usually the stuff that gets shoved to the bottom of the priority list is the stuff we WANT to do. It’s unfortunate, but this is what being a grown-up is all about. Do the important stuff first, and it will get done. Do the goofy stuff first, and that’s all you’ll get done.
11 – Eliminate distractions.
Turn off your phone, disable your email alerts, and cut yourself off from the Internet if you don’t need it for the stuff you have to do. Tell the people around you that you are buckling down on something and that you don’t want to be disturbed. If you put on headphones, people are more likely to leave you alone, even if you aren’t actually listening to something.
12 – Say: “I got this. Oh yeah, I got this.”
Seriously. Say it out loud. For whatever magic reason (or psychological reason, I guess), hearing your own voice saying something out loud makes it easier for to you believe it.
For more tips and time management strategies–along with dozens of other helpful topics for entrepreneurs–check out the book Time to getLaunched: 7 Keys to Succeed with Your Startup, available for purchase and immediate download on Amazon.