Photo credit: Crew
Running a solo or micro business is hard. Every single issue that comes up is a decision you have to make. There isn’t a design team to turn to, or a product manager, or a writer, or director of finance. The only expert is you, at least most of the time.
Are you an expert avoider?
Sometimes, with so many balls in the air you become an expert at procrastination too.
There’s just too much to do, not enough hours in the day, and who likes prioritizing anyway?”
But there comes a time when “butt in chair” applies. You can’t put off creating that presentation, making that phone call, or writing that blog any longer. So why do you? When you reach the point when procrastination has become the priority, it’s time to just start.
As a writer, I’ve avoided projects by making outlines, creating diagrams and flow charts, and doodling mind maps. And let’s not forget the El Dorado of procrastination: research.
For a while I get away with telling myself that I need to do these things to get the ideas flowing. Sometimes it’s the truth, but I’ve also learned that when I’ve been putting something off because I’m fussing over an outline, it’s an excuse.
When you’re stuck, just start
My solution is to just start. As in wing it, no outline, no safety net, no rules. Just get going.
Does that sound too basic? It is. And it works.
What amazes me EVERY time I do this, is that the words come and the work gets done, usually in a lot less time than I thought it would take. In fact, I spend more time coming up with creative excuses to get out of doing something than it takes to finish a first draft.
While part of your brain’s been procrastinating, the other part’s been processing information — sorting and cataloging data in the background. It’s all in there. All you have to do is turn on the tap.
Although my experience is with writing, this tactic applies to anything in your business you’re avoiding: bookkeeping, designing a flyer, website backups, writing the monthly newsletter, sales calls, you name it.
Use these 5 tips to beat procrastination out of the starting gate
If just start isn’t concrete enough for you, try these five tips to get going:
- Eliminate distractions. That means email, kids, noisy furnace, mobile phone, the internet
- One thing at a time. Multitasking is a myth. You can only do one thing at a time so make it count. Pick one task and stay focused on it until the project’s rolling. I don’t mean finished. I just mean you’ve taken a decent sized bite out of it.
- Break a big project into a number of smaller steps. Common sense but when you’re trying to start something, thinking about smaller pieces rather than the mammoth whole isn’t as intimidating
- 10-minute sprint. Do what you can in ten minutes. Time yourself, but really go for it. No emails, no distractions. Some people like 30 minutes, but when you’re having trouble getting started, I think that’s too long.
- Set aside a specified amount of time at the beginning of your day to get started on your project. Even if it’s only a 10-minute sprint. Don’t let yourself ease into things with emails, meetings, and busy work.
If you need more, here’s a full list of procrastination-beating tactics.
And next time, when you’re staring at YouTube instead of a blank Word doc or PowerPoint slide, remember that just starting brings you closer to done than you think.