I just wrote an article on About.com about how to beat procrastination. I really hate that word, almost as much as I hate what it means. But if you are a driven entrepreneur, busting your butt to get ahead and stay on top of your game, you WILL procrastinate on some things, no matter how good you are.
When you procrastinate, it’s hard to come back and focus on something that you’ve been putting off for days, weeks or even years. It’s like getting sucked into an inaction vortex. In order to get out of it, you need to find a way to refocus. Here’s how to do it.
Step 1: Get Your Priorities Straight
We all have so many things on our plates, and so many different dimensions that we exist in (business, family, personal, volunteer, etc.). How much of it is really important today, right now? What are your priorities? What do you need to do today to honor them?
Rank your responsibilities in priority order, and make sure you are spending your valuable time where it needs to be spent. You also want to avoid falling into the trap of making your list and forgetting it. Keep in mind that it is not unusual for your priorities to change during the day, and that means you may need to adjust your schedule and task list, too.
Step 2: Center Yourself
If you multitask, it’s virtually impossible to bring enough focus to an attention-requiring task to get it done efficiently and effectively. Even if you typically try to avoid multitasking, you can benefit from taking a moment to get yourself centered before diving into a project that requires your undivded attention.
How can you get centered? STOP. Stop moving; stop jumping from one thing to the next; stop checking your email; stop checking Facebook; stop thinking about tomorrow; just stop. Close your eyes, and think about the next task or project you will be working on. Make an intention; set a small goal; recite a motivational mantra; do whatever it takes to reset your busy mind to think only about the here and now.
Step 3: Create a Focus-Friendly Environment
In a perfect world, life would slow down when you’re in work mode, and there would be no phone ringing, kids screaming, IM pinging, dogs barking, email notifications flashing, or anything else to distract you. Of course, that will never happen, so minimized distractions are the best you can hope for.
To put the distractions back in their place, you need to take some drastic steps. Shut down, close out, remove and hide the items that are the biggest distractions in your environment, and do it well before it’s time to get to work.
When it comes to distractions beyond your control, try avoiding them by working on your most important tasks during off-hours. For example, you can capitalize on quiet early morning work time by having a plan laid out the day before for what you want to accomplish the next morning. It also doesn’t hurt to get organized and have everything ready to go when you need it.
Step 4: Embrace Delegation
You are not a superhero. And you should not make yourself a martyr for your business. That means you can’t do it all yourself at the price of giving up eating, sleeping and living.
Hey, I get it. Your business is your baby, and you can’t even imagine relinquishing your control to anyone else. Get over it. The simple fact is that if you want to be truly successful, you need to enlist the help of others and delegation is a big part of that. I have a lot to say about delegation (and my roots in the virtual assistant industry give me a very relevant perspective) — read some of it in the transcript from my recent interview for Melinda Emerson’s #smallbizchat on delegation.
These four steps may not be the all-encompassing solution to every one of your productivity challenges, but I guarantee if you follow them, you will find it easier to focus on what you need to do, when you need to do it.
Image credit: fotosipsak