For a lot of us, procrastination looks like this:
Future me is the perfect office manager. She always gets all of her work done. She knows exactly what will happen in the office, what should be happening in the office, and what actually is happening in that office (and who to yell at if the three don’t coincide). She’s good at conversing and you definitely want her at your dinner party. She clearly gets enough sleep, eats right and has all of her plans in a neat little planner with a sparkly flower and matching pen.
Past me is that one guy in the broom-closet-masquerading-as-an office. You know that guy. The one everyone complains about. The one the boss wants to fire so badly but some bureaucratic red tape has her hands tied. The one that never gets a single thing done. The one that seems to have made it their life mission to sabatoge all of future me’s endeavors.
Present me is in a constant battle to decide which one she wants to be.
Hint: Cheeto guys rarely establish successful businesses, become their own self-made person, or learn the finer points of personal hygiene.
For those just starting (and especially those just planning on starting) their own business, procrastination can be one of the biggest obstacles they must overcome.
There is plenty of research about the psychology of procrastination. Some of it is incredibly fascinating stuff I recommend heartily. But for those that want to kick the habit now (yep, that was a hint), here is my list of things that gets Cheeto guy out the door and your perfect office manager back in the present.
…or park or restaurant or friend’s basement- whatever strikes your fancy.
As long as it is a place you can spend plenty of time and would feel weird wearing your pajamas to. The idea is to:
get out of your house.
By forcing yourself to prepare for the world, leave your front door, and interact with other people, some pretty cool social psychology kicks in.
First of all you are away from many distractions that may fill your home. I find that the less I want to do a task, the cuter my cat looks, and the more imperative it is that I a break to tell her so.
Secondly, being in public increases social accountability. Imagine you are in a café and everyone is on their laptop. They are typing away, looking very serious with their triple macchiato caramel shot latte at their elbow. Entering that environment, it is mentally more difficult to go against the crowd than to catch a ride on their productivity coattails.
Okay, try not to remember that this article is written by a graphic designer and therefore completely discount this section as biased nonsense.
Not because you aren’t completely correct, but because this time I’ve got science on my side.
- A study published in 2004 by V.K. Ranganathan et. al. showed that athletes who spent time visualizing a workout developed 2/3 as much strength as those that did the actual exercise. Those that did both out performed everyone else.
- A paper printed in the European Physical Education Review found that college students who visualized studying or doing well on the test tended to get higher actual results than those that did not.
- An article in the Journal of Consulting Psychology argued that job applicants who received visualization training where three times as likely to find a job two months later than those that did not.
The key is that visualizing your success not only increases your chances- it makes you more motivated to go after them.
Cheeto guy is allergic to motivation. So is procrastination.
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Hear me out. If you’re like me, an outside push is often much more effective than any amount of inner guilt-tripping. Of course I am passionate about my business. Why else would I take the financial and emotional leap of faith to start? But some parts are so tedious and I really need to empty the dish washer and did I remember to take out my laundry and what about the cat food…
Making yourself accountable to someone else increases the value of the task you are doing. Now you’re not only doing it because it will be good for yourself and your business, but your “boss” will be angry/disappointed/annoyed if you don’t.
You’ve probably noticed the copious amounts of quotes I’ve put around “boss.” Clearly, your “boss” will not be your Boss. A “boss” is someone you feel comfortable talking to, someone that will listen to your dreams and be attentive to your progress. Your “boss” could be in the form of a spouse, a best friend, a nosy neighbor down the street, etc.
It doesn’t matter- all that matters is to create a sense of accountability. The rest will follow.
Starting a small business isn’t easy for even the most ideal office manager.
It’s impossible for Cheeto guy. That said, getting out of the loop of procrastination can be difficult no matter how passionate, talented and diligent you are (and if you own your own business: you are all of those things).
Give yourself the advantage.
Set up routines that lend themselves to productivity.
Get out of the house, get creative and get moving.
How do you handle business procrastination? Share it with us in the comments!
PS: As I was proofreading this article, I realized that there is a lot hate against Cheetos. Therefore I feel the need to add this disclaimer: I love Cheetos. I promise I’ll stop picking on them.