How to Get Over Time Management Procrastination
By Helen Godfrey, MA, NCC, BCC, LPC
One of the biggest challenges to being self-employed and owning your own business is getting over time management procrastination. It’s just so easy when you’re the boss to let things slide until it’s an emergency and you must absolutely get the task done. Here are a few tips to get out of this habit and start being productive today, not tomorrow.
Challenge yourself to something achievable but challenging. Sometimes we procrastinate because the task seems too large to manage. For example, you have an information product to create and just don’t know where to start. Rather than putting “create information product” on your task list, break the project up into several smaller steps. The first one could be, “Outline information product” or “Choose title for information product.” These smaller, more attainable goals are easier to accomplish and don’t feel as if they’re looming over your head.
Reward yourself (with a day off). Work hard, play hard is the cliché, right? Well take advantage of it. Make a to-do list at the beginning of the week and promise yourself a day off, where you do something fun, when the list is complete.
It’s easier to commit to this reward if you involve other people. For example, if you make an appointment for a massage on Friday, you will have to have your task list done by Thursday night or you’re going to have to cancel on your masseuse. You may have to pay for the appointment anyway, miss out on your massage and you will still have the task looming over your head. That doesn’t sound like fun at all. A deadline with a great reward at the end makes holding yourself accountable not only more pleasant but also motivated to get through your to do list because you invested in self-care.
Identify distractions. Find out how you procrastinate. Do you watch television? Run errands? Surf the net? Determine what distracts you. Spend a day or two working, or procrastinating, like you usually do and simply take note of what you do other than work. It’s helpful to document how much time you spend working and how much time you spend procrastinating.
One problem may be that you are setting goals that are too high and leave you feeling defeated before you even start. An hour of laser focused work is better than setting an overwhelming goal such as 8 hours of non-stop work, no breaks. Find a number that doesn’t freak you out. Is it 5 minutes? 15 minutes? Getting started is usually the hardest part. Once you start, you will probably find yourself wanting to keep at it.
Eliminate distractions. Once you know what you’re using to procrastinate then it’s time to get tough. Eliminate the distractions. For example, if you find that you often let household chores deter you from being productive, schedule a time for household chores. Give yourself thirty minutes at lunchtime to get a chore list completed and then go back to work.
Use tools to help you. Time-tracking tools, both online and off, are great for helping you stay on task. You can for example use something as simple as an egg timer. Set it for thirty-five minutes. Work for thirty-five minutes and when the timer dings, give yourself ten minutes or so to stretch, walk around the block, put away the clean dishes or something other than work and then go back and set the timer again.
Get creative with these tools and ideas and use them to help you stay on task and stop procrastinating.