Ready to stop procrastinating and get more done? There’s no sense beating yourself up for putting things off. Here’s why fear might be holding you back (and how to overcome it!)
I don’t have time.
I can’t afford it.
This just isn’t for me.
This is too tough.
I don’t know how.
I’m not qualified.
I’m not smart enough.
There are too many distractions.
I’ll do it later.
I just don’t feel like it.
I’m not ready.
It’s not going to work anyway.
My business isn’t there yet.
I have more planning to do.
But there’s a new episode of The Crown on Netflix!
Confused about where to start?
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Sound familiar? If you’ve ever found yourself saying any of the above phrases (and haven’t we all?), you’ve undoubtedly been a victim of the dreaded “P” word: Procrastination.
Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done
The Truth About Procrastination
The official definition of procrastination is “to defer action, to delay or to put off to another day or time”. Basically, procrastination means looking at your tasks and saying, “I’ll do it tomorrow”… but then somehow tomorrow never seems to come.
The reality is that it is so hard to do those things we don’t feel like doing! I’ve so been there…. and let’s be honest, continue to be there on an almost daily basis. Fighting the urge to put things off is an ongoing battle. And procrastination (as illustrated in the list above) can take a million different forms, one more tempting than the last. There are days when I know I need to be working on drafting a new blog post or writing emails, but then all of a sudden I think “Hmm… maybe I should clean out the junk drawer in my kitchen” or “You know what would be amazing right now? Popcorn and Netflix.”
Please tell me I’m not the only one?
But as tempting as that Gilmore Girls marathon may be, there’s a scary truth about procrastination that should at least give us pause before hitting play on that next episode. Do you know what it is?
It’s that the thing you’re procrastinating is almost always the thing that will make the biggest impact on your business.
Now, if you’ve found yourself in the grasps of procrastination, PLEASE don’t be hard on yourself. You’re only human and you are NOT alone! And it’s human nature to put off that which we think we can’t handle. So in our business we tend to procrastinate the things we imagine will be the toughest or suck up the most time.
But I have news for you, friends. You CAN handle it. I know you can! Even if it’s tough or takes up a lot of your time. You can do it! And by tackling those tasks, you’re going to end up having a HUGE impact on your blog and the success of your business, which is ultimately what you want, right?
Believe me, over the years I have literally found every excuse on the planet to procrastinate. When I first started out and wasn’t hip to all the technology stuff, I put off buying a URL and finding hosting. Or I’ve written posts (more posts than I can count!) and then stressed that they weren’t good enough and put off hitting the “publish” button until I could revise for the 10,000th time. I put off social media, building my email list, hiring the right team… the list is endless!
And then, if I’m not careful, I find myself in a sneaky procrastination cycle. The more I put things off, the more difficult it becomes to get things done. I think “I should really focus on this right now”, but then I end up feeling overwhelmed and doing something else. And the longer it takes, the guiltier I feel, which makes it harder to get started, and then I feel MORE guilty… you get the picture.
I’m not proud to admit that I’m a chronic procrastinator. But I just want you to know if you’re struggling, you’re not alone!
But here’s the amazing thing about procrastination. YOU have the power to stop that sneaky procrastination cycle before it even starts. If you find yourself looking at a task and thinking “I really should do this…” stop right there. Anytime you see the word “should” flash in your brain, that’s a red flag that you’re veering into procrastination-ville. And this is where you get to stop that sneaky procrastination cycle in its tracks.
Take a deep breath and tackle that task FIRST. You don’t have to get caught up in the “shoulds”! And when you get the hardest task or the task that’s weighing on you the most out of the way FIRST, it frees up that mental space in your head so you can approach the rest of your tasks from a happy and relaxed place, which is going to make your work SO much more enjoyable!
That one little change in how you approach the “shoulds” can be the biggest breakthrough in your blogging business – and can make your work a lot more fun!
We Know What We Need to Do
I think the most interesting thing about procrastination is the WHY behind it. Since you’re reading this block, you’re obviously an incredibly smart person. I’m sure that when you procrastinate, it’s not because you don’t know what you should be doing. It’s because, for whatever reason, you find that particular task to be overwhelming or uncomfortable.
You’re not alone! This happens all the time here at Elite Blog Academy. I have students who were thinking about signing up in 2014, but ended up not pulling the trigger. “I don’t have the money,” they said. “I’ll sign up next year.”
Then 2015 rolled around, and for whatever reason, they still didn’t feel quite ready. “I’m just totally slammed and don’t have the time right now,” or “It’s going to be too hard! I don’t think I can do it.” So another year passed.
Then, when they finally decided to bite the bullet and sign up in 2016, they all said the same thing.
“Why didn’t I do this sooner?!”
If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone! The defining characteristic of procrastination is that once you move past those feelings of discomfort or overwhelming, what you find on the other side is an overwhelming sense of relief.
So, the goal is to get you from the feelings of discomfort to the feelings of sweet relief without that pesky procrastination in the middle. So, since we already know WHAT we’re doing (procrastinating), it’s time to figure out WHY.
Why Am I Procrastinating?
Like the old saying goes “knowledge is power”. And if you want the power to move past your procrastination, then you need to get to the bottom of why you're procrastinating in the first place.
Now, before you even start the investigation process, it’s super important that you approach this self exploration from a place of compassion. Don’t beat yourself up for procrastinating! It’s something that everyone on the planet – from you to me to Bill Gates to Beyonce – do at one point or another and being hard on yourself is only going to make you feel unnecessarily bad about yourself, your business and your abilities.
Which is pointless! Procrastination is totally normal and it has nothing to do with how amazing you are at what you do. Show yourself some love, cut yourself some slack and then start looking at what might be playing into your sneaky procrastination cycle. Understanding yourself and the reasons why you take (or don’t take) certain actions is incredibly powerful. Once you have that understanding, you can empower yourself to take the necessary steps to change it, move past it, and tackle your work from a more productive place.
I have an exercise I use when I find myself putting off something I know would be good for me or my business. Schedule a time where you can be alone for 15-20 minutes, find a quiet spot where you won’t be distracted or interrupted, grab a notebook and pen or open a Word doc, and jot down the answers to these questions:
- What’s scaring you?
- What about this situation makes you feel apprehensive or afraid? Are you afraid of the situation at hand, or is it bringing up old fears you haven’t fully worked through?
- What’s holding you back from completing this task?
- What roadblocks are in the way between you and success? What’s keeping you from tackling the task head-on? Is it fear? Is it a lack of confidence? Do you feel you don’t deserve the success you might achieve if you stop procrastinating?
- What is it about this task you don’t want to do?
- Is there something specific about the task at hand you feel resistant to? What does that bring up for you?
Your answers to these questions will give you a lot of insight into why you’re putting things off. And I have a little secret for you — 100% of the time, they’re going to somehow tie back to fear.
Fear is such a tough thing to deal with! It can be paralyzing. Fear is the enemy of productivity. When fear is controlling you, procrastination is inevitable.
So what’s a blogger to do?
Do It Scared™
One of my favorite quotes of all time comes from that legendary cowboy John Wayne: “Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway.” Or, in other words, Courage means being afraid but doing it anyway.
Even when you’re scared and you’re shaking in your boots, you are powerful enough to stand in the face of that fear and do it anyway. When you find yourself in the grips of procrastination and are scared to take the next best steps for your business, it’s time to dig deep down inside and find your courage. Even when you’re scared and you’re shaking in your boots, you are powerful enough to stand in the face of that fear and do it anyway – I promise! One of our core values at Living Well, Spending Less is “do it scared.” Resolve to do the next best thing, the thing you know you need to do for your business, even when it scares you.
And once you face that fear, make sure that you set yourself up to follow through and continue facing it. Take the task and put it on your calendar. Set a deadline and work it into your daily schedule. Tell your spouse, your friends, or your blogging buddies and ask them to be your accountability buddies and to support you through the process. Doing the legwork and setting yourself up for success will give you the support you need to do to stop procrastinating and make it happen.
And when you do push past that fear, gather your courage, and do the thing that scares you, there’s something really amazing waiting on the other side. You’ll be flushed with a whole new sense of confidence. You’ll see that you did the scary thing, you pushed past the fear…and you survived! In fact, you thrived. In fact, your business is better because of it. And then you can take that newfound confidence and use it to tackle the next scary thing. And before you know it, instead of being stuck in a sneaky cycle of procrastination, you find yourself in an inspiring cycle of growth.
Pretty amazing stuff, right?
A Challenge for You
If you’re struggling with procrastination, it’s time to get it out in the open. There’s strength in numbers, and getting support from the community can help you to beat procrastination once and for all. In the comments section below, leave a comment with three parts: what you’re procrastinating, why you’re putting it off, and your action plan for getting it done. Then share the date you’ll have the task you’ve been procrastinating completed by. The EBA community will be here to support you, hold you accountable, and help you reach your goals.
It’s time to do it scared and take on those things we know will make the biggest impact.
You ready? Let’s do this!
PS: In case you missed it, we talked about how to stop procrastinating and get more done on Facebook Live. Join Elite Blog Academy on Facebook to participate in future live videos!