One of the things I always struggle with is procrastination. People are often surprised by this and say to me “How is this possible? You seem to get so much done!” Well, the reason I appear to get so much done, is that I’m avoiding the hard stuff that I should be doing.
Like writing this newsletter.
Some of you may have noticed that I did not send you a newsletter in January. Writing material is one of the hardest things I do. Writing does not come naturally to me, and my typing has only just recently evolved from the ‘whack-a-mole’ level.
I now know that procrastination is an emotional issue. So, whenever I find myself avoiding something I try and self-coach myself by asking these questions:
1. What is stopping you?
We can always find reasons. We say to ourselves; ‘I don’t have the right resources, I don’t have the time, it’s all too hard.’ But often the cause of our reticence is fear. Fear that what we do will not be good enough. We fear that we will be judged and seen as lacking. We fear that we will be embarrassed or shamed.
So, have a sit and a think about what is really stopping you and address it.
2. What can you do in 10 minutes or less?
Sometimes I find it is the starting that is hardest part. I will often use a mind hack where I set the timer on my phone for 10 minutes and say to myself ‘I’m not going to do the whole thing, I’m just to do 10 minutes and then I’ll stop.’ This is often enough for me to break that procrastination cycle and to get moving.
3. Why are you doing this?
It is okay to ask yourself ‘Is this really worth doing?’ One thing I’ve learned over the 20 years that I have had my business, is that I can’t do everything myself. There are other people that can do it better than me in less time. If I am struggling with something that is outside of my skill set and energy, I will happily delegate it. I apply this to my home life as well.
There are also a lot of things that just need to be done, and don’t necessarily need to be perfect. One of my favourite mantras is ‘Minimum effort for maximum returns.’ This sounds quite brutal but what it means is that I am putting effort into the important stuff and not wasting time and energy on things that don’t get results.
And as for the New Year’s resolutions, well, we all know they’re overrated! You’re much better off by getting a blank piece of paper and writing down 10 things that you can do that will take 10 minutes each. Put them on a post-it note on your laptop and tackle one or two each day. At the end of the week, you’ll be able to look back and see your progress. And remember it’s all about progress, not perfection.
On a side note: my self-coaching worked! And I have produced my every newsletter!