Procrastination can be a real nuisance, especially for entrepreneurs: it can jeopardise your company’s growth and prevent you from reaching goals. Everyone is prone to it! Luckily, there are useful strategies to avoid this recurring problem. In this article, I will share some helpful tips to help you beat procrastination and optimise your productivity.
Understanding the causes of procrastination
The first step to beating procrastination is to understand what causes it. Indeed, it can be caused by many factors such as a fear of failure (if this sounds familiar, go and read the article on imposter syndrome), a lack of clarity concerning your goals, having too much work, or simply a lack of motivation. Whatever the case, start by identifying the specific reasons that make you procrastinate. This will help you beat them.
Set clear and manageable goals
Setting clear and manageable goals is crucial to avoid procrastination. Set both short-term and long-term goals for your company. Make sure that they are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART, link in French). Having specific goals is a great way to stay focused and motivated because you know exactly what you want to achieve with the work you are supplying.
Create an action plan
Once you have set your goals, it’s time to create a detailed action plan. Separate your goals into smaller tasks that are thus more manageable! Create a list of monthly tasks and leave yourself a realistic amount of time to finish them, a few weeks, for example. Having a clear and structured plan will enable you to stay organised and better manage your time, just like a compass prevents you from getting lost even on the foggiest of days.
Whatever your job, as an entrepreneur, you’ll be faced with numerous tasks and responsibilities. It’s crucial that you make priorities to focus on the most important and urgent tasks. Identify the ones that have a major impact on your company so that you can handle them first. In other words, keep focused on the essential things.
A great tool to help you sort through them…
The Eisenhower Matrix (link in French), also known as an importance/urgency matrix, is a time-management tool developed by the 34th American President, Dwight D. Eisenhower. This matrix will help you to prioritise tasks and to make the best decisions on how to manage them based on their importance and urgency. This tool comes in the form of a chart with four categories split into two topics: importance and urgency.
The first category – tasks that are both important and urgent – is for critical tasks that require immediate action. They are often linked to immanent deadlines, urgent problems or crises. They are obviously the ones that you need to focus on first.
The second category – important but non-urgent tasks – is for tasks concerning planning, growth, and improvement. Your development strategy and training are notably a part of this category. They are essential elements to reach long-term goals. It’s recommended that you regularly allocate time to focus all of your attention on these tasks.
The third category – non-important but urgent tasks – are often interruptions, last-minute requests, unplanned calls, meetings that run overtime, etc. You can gain time here by delegating or completely dismissing these tasks because they don’t significantly contribute to your long-term goals.
The fourth and final category – non-important and non-urgent tasks – group together the tasks that you should avoid as much as possible since they do not contribute to your productivity or help you to achieve your goals. In this category, we can find non-constructive time spent on social networks, outrageous perfectionism such as adding commas to presentations, etc. Enough said, they are distractions. This naturally leads us to our next point…
Getting rid of distractions
Distractions can obviously easily make you waste time and procrastinate. You need to identify recurring distractions in your workspace and take the necessary measures to get rid of them. Turn off notifications on your phone, use website blockers for unessential pages and create a calm workspace that promotes concentration. Yes, I know, it’s easier said than done! But…
Use time-management techniques
Efficient time management is crucial to avoid procrastination. Try using methods such as the Pomodoro Technique which consists in working for 25 minutes and then taking a short break to maintain optimal concentration and productivity. You can also use time-management tools such as task management apps and even electronic planners.
We’ve already mentioned this in a previous article, the time blocking technique (link in French) is a very practical time management method that quickly reaps results! It consists in organising your day into time slots dedicated to specific tasks. Instead of simply creating a list of tasks to accomplish, allocate time slots for each activity.
Be proud of all the responsibilities you manage on a daily basis!
Procrastination is a huge obstacle to overcome for a lot of entrepreneurs… But it’s possible! By understanding its causes, setting clear goals, making a plan of action, making priorities, getting rid of distractions, and using time-management tools, you can get past this challenge! Remember to congratulate yourself for what you do! Never forget to celebrate the step you have just taken. By taking this advice on board, you’ll be able to make the most of your time as an entrepreneur and run your business more efficiently and with peace of mind.
Remember that the tools and techniques listed here are just some of many that exist to avoid procrastination. The most important thing is finding what works best for you.
So get to work!
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