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Why Procrastination is the Biggest Business Killer
Procrastination or its evil twin Perfectionism can stop a business in its tracks. There are so many ways to procrastinate and what usually lies behind it is FEAR. But once you learn the tricks to unlock your procrastination blockers you’ll be unstoppable.
I’ve started this article roughly 153 time so far. Got distracted by my phone about 97 of those times. Laundry got me about 25 times (and I HATE laundry). And the rest of the time well – let’s say its incredible how the most mundane tasks need to be tackled instead of doing this.
It was the same before I started my first business. Even though I’d been thinking about it for a really long time there was always a reason why I couldn’t get started. In the end the catalyst was my body and mind giving up on me because I’d pushed it too far in my corporate role. Burnout finally dumped me on the pavement and I had to face the fact that something had to change.
There are so many ways to procrastinate and I know because I’ve tried quite a few of them. And some of them even show up disguised as work, it’s a tricky beast.
- Waiting for the perfect moment to leave, just one more month and then I’ll be ready
- Over preparation for the move – to get everything just right
- Scrolling the web instead of getting out to see potential clients
- The 100th edit of your website copy or logo or name, which just can’t go live until its perfect
- And yes it’s amazing how attractive laundry gets when you’re in full flight procrastination
But there are a few tools you can use to keep yourself moving when procrastination hits. And these tools are relevant whether you are just thinking of making the jump or in the early days of starting a business.
- Dig into WHY you are procrastinating. Quite often it’s fear based. Making a positive move forward can be uncomfortable, it can open you up to failure, and reveal good old impostor syndrome. But if you vocalise the fears and expose them to sunlight, they shrink and then you can move forward.
- Set clear goals and tasks. Have the big goals but also chunk it down into small manageable steps. You don’t have to solve everything today as long as you keep moving forward. How do you eat an elephant – one bite at a time….
- Understand what environment you are most productive in. For some people it might be at home, some in a cafe, some in a co-working space. For me if I’m working on something creative or strategic it has to be outside of my home, I need to be surrounded by people to get ideas flowing. For others, it’s the exact opposite.
- Also know when you work best and how to hack your habits when you are busy. Remember this is your design so work in your rhythm. I just can’t do thinking work in the morning. My brain only switches into deep thinking mode in the late afternoon and evening. I tried for ages to be the opposite because I’d read so many stories about all these dynamic individuals who got up at 5 am to do their thinking work. IT DOES NOT WORK FOR ME and worse it’s totally wasted time. If I have a lot on my plate I’ll schedule my meetings early in the day. I can engage productively if I need to deal with other people. And then once I’ve got going I’ll do the thinking work in the afternoon and evening when my brain is in that mode. Do what works best for you and arrange your calendar accordingly.
- Know the difference between busy work and impactful work and make sure the latter gets the focus it needs. It is SO easy to procrastinate by doing busy work. When I’m in this mode to-do lists work for me. And specifically, to-do lists that separate the big rocks or impactful to-dos from the other tasks. And I make myself start with the most important tasks.
- Another really great procrastination activity is comparing yourself to others and then getting frozen into inaction. Comparisonitis can be paralysing. When I first started out over 10 years ago it seems like absolutely everyone was starting to offer virtual CFO services and I almost gave up. How could I possibly compete against all of that? Now I shudder to think that I could have stopped before I had even started.
Your personal and business networks really help to avoid this pitfall. Pick an accountability buddy to keep you on track. Vocalise your fears. Commit to keeping on moving forward.
About the Author
Name: Michelle Kvello
Professional Title: Founder, Coach, CFO
Bio: Michelle Kvello is the founder of Lantern Partners, a virtual CFO firm, working with founder CEOs of start-ups and scale-ups. She has a personal love of driving entrepreneur success because early in her career she realised there was a need for founders to have access to good commercial and strategic financial support. Often the health and hygiene compliance work was sorted, but the missing piece of the puzzle was the partnering support to help the business really grow. She founded Lantern Partners with the vision of being that partner.
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