You hop on Social Media just to “check in” or your inbox chimes to draw you in — and before you know it, an hour or more has passed. In the meantime, your daily to do list sits undone and you tell yourself, you’ll get to it tomorrow. Then tomorrow comes and your stress multiplies because now you have twice as much to get done in half the time. Why do we do this to ourselves?
Could it be that because we are solo business owners that we don’t have as much accountability as white-collar employees? Without that accountability and without deadlines, it can be so tempting to put things off. It becomes a battle between what you know you need to get done and what you actually do. But, how do you get a handle on things and stop procrastinating?
1. Utilize block scheduling for your work schedule and develop a routine.
I credit block scheduling with helping me conquer procrastination. Before I adapted a block schedule, I floundered around from project to project and task to task each day as I felt like working on them with no real sense of focus which made it incredibly easy to get distracted.
Then someone turned me on to block scheduling, which is when you establish a regular workday schedule and assign blocks of time to certain work aspects or projects. For instance, you might have one 60-minute block dedicated to marketing, one for research, three for writing, and one for doing revisions. Each block can be broken down even further based on your individual needs.Just be sure and also schedule breaks in there, at least once every hour.
2. Plan your goals & write down all action steps that need to be completed.
At the end of each week, I review my weekly and monthly goals, and then add or revise any action steps that need to be taken to accomplish those goals. By keeping those goals and action steps in the forefront of my mind and reviewing them regularly, I find it helps me stay focused on what needs to be done in my business.
3. Prioritize and pick 3-5 tasks that must be completed each day or week.
If you are like me, there is always more you want to do than you actually have time or resources for. Look at your list of goals and action steps and prioritize them, then pick the 3-5 most urgent ingaction steps to complete each day and/or each week.
4. Schedule your most important tasks and projects during your peak working hours.
Each person has peak working hours and they are different for everyone. Some people are vibrant morning-people and do some of their best creative thinking in the early morning hours. Others need a few cups of coffee and a couple of hours before they get into their work groove. Others, feel most energized and get their best ideas in the afternoon or evening. And, there also those of us who seem to focus best after the witching hour (hello fellow night owls).
When you work during your peak working hours, you tend to be more alert, and have more energy and motivation, and are most productive. Figure out your peak work hours and schedule your most important tasks and projects during that time period.
5. Set doable deadlines.
Another thing that really keeps me on track is setting hard deadlines. I find that I tend to be a lot more organized and motivated when I know that I have a defined time period in which to get things done.
6. Identify & eliminate your biggest time- wasters.
One of the biggest double-edged swords of being your own boss is that you can set your own work schedule. This freedom that can come from the ability to self-schedule is one of the reasons many people want to work for themselves in the first place, but it can also serve as a prelude to disorganization, procrastination, and increased stress levels if your time is not used wisely. Figuring out how to effectively spend the 24 hours in each day is one of the most challenging parts of being a self-boss.
Don’t let useless distractions rob you of precious time. Start noting what activities are your biggest time-wasters — email, social media, research, phone calls, teleseminars & webinars — and add up how much time you are losing these activities each day and each week. Then, take action to reduce or completely cut those activities out of your workday.
To learn more about eliminating distractions, check out this post.
7. Get an accountability partner.
Whether it be a friend, spouse, accountability group, or writing coach, share your goals with someone who can motivate and support you, and help keep you accountable. Verbalizing your intentions and goals and then sharing your progress, can be a powerful motivator to get required tasks completed.
8. Establish incentives.
Another method I use to keep me in my workflow and productive is incentives. For example, if I complete 80% or more of my tasks for any given week, or if I complete a project, I reward myself. The incentives vary from week to week and project to project, but I make sure that they are substantial enough to motivate me want to earn them. This technique really makes me stop and rethink checking my email inbox or hopping onto social media outside of my dedicated scheduled time block for doing those things.
Any one of the tips above can help you become more productive and overcome procrastination, but when you combine all of them together, you become an unstoppable productivity machine, not to mention you become so much more focused and organized.
So how many hours are you wasting every day — every week — every month? Isn’t it about time to reclaim your time? try these 8 steps and let me know how they work for you. I’d also love to hear from you if you have any other ways to kick procrastination in the behind!