Every Thursday at 1pm GMT we co-host a Clubhouse room called ‘Collaboration Studio’ with Julie Fedele, Founder of Two Feet In and Phoebe Dodds, founder of Buro 155 and Live Wellby. This week we talked all things procrastination, what it is and how to beat it.
Definition: People often procrastinate because they’re afraid of failing at the tasks that they need to complete. … Rather, fear of failure promotes procrastination primarily when it reduces people’s sense of autonomy, or when people feel incapable of dealing with a task that they’re afraid to fail at. [Source: James Clear]
During this conversation we challenged the statement above and unpicked some of our own reasons for procrastination, why we do it and collectively shared tried and tested solutions we have found works for us.
First up, why do we procrastinate? Here is a list of some of the most common reasons:
- Abstract goals
- Rewards that are far in the future
- A disconnect from our future self
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Task aversion
- Fear of evaluation or negative feedback
- Fear of failure
- A perceived lack of control
- Lack of motivation
- Lack of energy
- Sensation seeking
[Source: Solving procrastination]
The first step to overcoming procrastination is understanding why you procrastinate in the first place. So, what’s the reason behind you putting off certain tasks?
Something that I found really interesting was the fact that people sometimes procrastinate because they view their future self as being disconnected from their present-self, a phenomenon known as temporal self-discontinuity or temporal disjunction. This came up with a few people who felt the task would either not allow them instant gratification or would only benefit their future self and therefore wasn’t enough of a motivation to start the task, even though it may have detrimental outcomes.
Can you relate?
Two other clear front runners when it came to why we procrastinate was fear of failure and perfectionism. We either add so much weight to the task in hand that we’re afraid of messing things up OR we desperately want the outcome to be perfect and therefore delay starting as we aim for unattainable flawlessness, which causes us to procrastinate by giving us a seemingly valid excuse for unnecessary delays.
If you found yourself nodding your head to any of the above we have a few suggestions that may offer you a little solitude and maybe even a system to beat that pesky little procrastinator bug!
First up, do not give yourself a hard time for procrastinating, we all do it! The key is identifying WHY you do it, labelling it and then managing it with a range of coping mechanisms.
So, where do you start?
Break it down
Break down your tasks and prioritize. Sometime the most important tasks aren’t actually the most urgent and depending on how you work you may not need the motivation to do the urgent tasks in which case, set yourself up to doing the most important tasks first whether that’s ‘blue sky thinking’ for your business or your accounts which you KNOW you have to get done at some point. Trust me, your future self will thank you. Then factor in time towards the end of the day for the more urgent ones. It may sound counter intuitive but if you are someone who works well under pressure, you won’t need much motivation for the time sensitive tasks but you will need a helping hand in completing the important tasks that you find yourself pushing down to the bottom of your list each day. These tend to be BIG impact tasks but sometimes are so big you don’t know where to start. The trick is to START somewhere.
Long lists can be incredibly overwhelming so rather than start each day with a list as long as your arm, take a step back and look quarter by quarter. What do you want to achieve? And then break it down. Break down your goals for each month, then week and then each day write a list of just a few priority tasks that allow you to move the needle forward in your business. That way, by consistently ticking things off your daily list, by the time the quarter rolls round you will have achieved your goals – winning! Try doing this on a Sunday evening so that you start the week with a clear head, or even each evening so you start a new day knowing exactly what you want to achieve. Be productive rather than reactive.
Stay offline in the morning
Start your day working through your priority list. Even better, start the day doing something nice for yourself, go for a walk, buy a coffee, listen to a podcast. Show yourself some love and let the feeling of self-love carry you through the day. That way you won’t be so harsh on yourself should procrastination rear its ugly head. Because we all know how much we like to beat ourselves up about it! Avoid emails and social media for the first few hours, this will allow you to focus on the tasks in hand without being distracted by external demands, which let’s be honest, 99.9% of the time can wait.
Have an accountability Buddy
Did you know, if you have a specific accountability commitment with someone, you will increase your chance of success by up to 95%? [Source: Medium]
At Found & Flourish we have an accountability pairing service which pairs members up and provides a system where they catch up weekly to share their goals, potential setbacks and ways in which they aim to overcome those setbacks, thus increasing their chances of achieving their goals. Having a buddy or a group of accountability buddies will allow you to feel supported, motivated and essentially accountable to ticking those to-dos off your list. Focus mate is an app that allows you to pair with buddies all over the world where you work virtually together in real time. Love this idea!
Other tips include:
- Focus on your zone of genius and outsource anything that falls outside of it (where you can!)
- Timeblock if you’re someone who works well in sprints (you may need extra time for more creative tasks)
- Celebrate the wins – acknowledge those milestones
- Prioritise tasks that allow you to move the needle forward
- Read Four tendencies by Gretchen Reubin
- Adopt a start-up mentality and see every action as an opportunity to test, iterate and learn. There’s never failure, only learnings.
Remember, the first step to overcoming procrastination is understanding why you procrastinate in the first place. Once you have the awareness, you can then start implementing the right kind of coping mechanisisms necessary to overcome these tendancies. Finally, go easy on yourself and remember, your worth is not measured by your productivity levels.
For more inspiring conversations join us weekly on Clubhouse. Search our room “Collaboration Studio” and join the Found & Flourish club on Clubhouse for founder interviews, fireside chats and thought provoking panel discussions.
About your author
Lara Sheldrake is a business mentor, consultant and Founder at Found & Flourish. Lara writes and speaks on the topics of entrepreneurship, motherhood and social media for business. She also hosts the Bossing It podcast, aimed at empowering the next generation of female founders in the UK.
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