The squirrel did it!!
Hey Sentinels! Happy New Year to all of you and the very best wishes for health and abundance for 2018!!
So it finally happened.
Got caught in the procrastination trap. My last post was back in November. Initially I felt terrible about it but then decided to research a bit about what makes us procrastinate. T
The results were self-revealing and I am very happy to share them with you here.
I’m presently digging myself out this hole.
It’s so easy to fall victim of the “squirrel syndrome” when starting a business, any business, brick and mortar, online or otherwise.
These distractions can be so varied and all of them have one thing in common: they steal away focus.
You lose focus, you start paying attention to other sparkly things that initially look great, but eventually the sparkle wears off for some reason or other.
These distractions can also be just things, moments, incidents, that life just throws at you, and they can have just as much distracting power (many times more!) than that sparkly thing you saw in the internet (a webinar, a product, an offer, a course, etc.).
And once your focus is somewhere else, procrastination makes its unwelcome appearance and, before you know it, you are trapped, and suddenly you are looking at the work you haven’t done in weeks.
You think “how the hell am I going to catch up with all that I have to do?”.
And you look at your laptop, silent and waiting, and you ignore the calling, making some excuse not to continue.
You turn away from your work desk, feeling guilty, overwhelmed, and yes, even a bit fearful.
And you think “I’m caught. Procrastination’s finally got me good”.
But since you have no one to answer to but yourself, you add another unproductive day under the rug, so no one can see.
But you know it’s there.
And though you may make every effort to not see it, you can certainly feel it, there, in your gut.
You’re in deep…STOP DIGGING!
Time to put the shovel down and stop digging.
So…does procrastinating mean that I have no sense of accountability? It can be very easy to come to that conclusion.
You have no boss. You can do what you want, when you want. Stop and go as you please.
It’s a false sense of liberty.
You want all these things but you want them at no expense to you. Mistake
With freedom comes responsibility.
And for us that wish to own, create, innovate, and influence others for the better good, it goes beyond responsibility. The name of the game is accountability. Your results depend on you. In typical 9 to 5 work environments, it’s easier. You have your boss cracking the whip to keep you accountable.
If you do this well, you are good with your boss.
But even if you do this half-way decently, which is unfortunately where many companies around the world are, even then, you still get your paycheck and company benefits.
True, this won’t last if you keep half-assing around. But you have the company environment there to give you fair warning.
As an independent business owner, entrepreneur, etc. you don’t get that luxury.
If you decide to procrastinate, you have to own the results of your decision.
Blogging has a very clear-cut result of procrastination. You don’t publish regularly, you lose readership.
You lose readership, you lose your chances for subscribers and eventual buyers of whatever product, service or recommendation you can offer them in the mid and long term.
But most importantly, I think, is that you also lose the unique opportunity to interact and create relationships with them. That’s big.
Procrastination is not a Members Only club…
But here is the thing.
Procrastination, I’ve found, is a malady that serious online entrepreneurs face often.
It is not uncommon and we are certainly not alone when we fall in its trap.
The reason it is more common with online biz owners than traditional brick and mortar owners is the isolation factor.
As an online marketer/entrepreneur, you are dealing with many intangibles.
Once you become seriously involved with the subject matter, the truth is the great majority of the people that surround you just don’t get it.
So you become a bit of a loner.
There are very effective ways to stop the isolation but that is something we will explore in another post.
The point is that procrastination is not an isolated occurrence.
It happens to all of us, at every level of our journey, whether you are a newbie or seasoned veteran.
Here’s the great news, though: you can learn how to break procrastination habits.
A few years ago I took a Life Guarding Certification course. I knew how to swim pretty well, and I felt I was in pretty good shape. So in I go into the pool. The instructor tells all of us candidates that warm up begins with a brisk 20 laps.
Ok, no problem. I got this.
After my third lap, the instructor calls me over and tells me, in layman terms, that my swimming technique pretty much sucks.
I took the constructive criticism to heart and asked him for some tips. He tells me that he would be doing me a disservice by giving just a couple of tips and sending me on my way.
That if I was really serious in making the most of the Lifeguarding certification course (which I had already payed for), that we needed to get to the root of my swimming problem.
And that problem stemmed from my faulty breathing technique.
We worked on it for a few days, learning new habits and techniques. Swimming skills for life guarding are all together different from recreational swimming.
And so, with the help of my instructor and focusing on my root problem, I was able to finish and earn my lifeguard certification.
We are going to do the same with procrastination.
Following are 10 strategies that will help you break away from procrastination.
We will discuss the first 5 on this post and conclude this article with the following 5 strategies on a post which I will publish next week.
Yes, I could give you a few tips on how to handle this bad habit and send you on your way. But to really learn how to break procrastination habits, we must go deeper.
We will identify, own and get to the root of the matter.
1. Getting clarity…
Consider the subconscious for a moment.
Powerful stuff. It can go north or south, and many times you are not even aware of it.
With procrastination, it is no different.
You may have procrastination so embedded in your subconscious that you don’t even realize it. Your subconscious stores the good and the bad, either way. It is totally impartial.
So you may store good things that you are supposed to do and that you know are good for you, but because of procrastination, you keep them there, locked away, and don’t pay attention to them, until there is just too much to do.
You are overwhelmed and so you try to ignore it again, but more things, ideas, projects, keep adding up. When this happens, stop.
Pinpoint where this is coming from.
Write down a list of the things that you have to do.
You may not get to them all immediately. But it really helps to see them on paper.
It restores control and gives you a sense of direction as to what steps you are going to take next.
2. Shine light into the darkness.
The dark, that’s where our fears lie. Ever since we were small, they were always there. The monsters below our bed, in the closet.
As we grew up, the monsters transformed and now they appear as the unknown, as uncertainty.
We all face these fears daily. As entrepreneurs, even more so. Dealing with uncertainty is one of the traits that defines us.
If you are faced with the unknown, with uncertainty, shine light on the darkness.
Why are you afraid of the unknown?
Get to the source of your fear and make it go away by understanding it.
Perhaps you are not sure as to how to proceed or get over a certain obstacle. Well, guess what. You just turned on the light in that dark room. Sure, there are still a few dark corners but just recognizing that you have a problem with a certain aspect of your business, life, personal relationship, is a powerful way to start.
Now that you have your problem identified, bring in the big guns to shine even more light.
Research and inform yourself as to how you can breach the problem.
Give yourself pause and take the time to think how you are going to crush your obstacle.
Perhaps the solution needs a new, different angle. You may have to think out of the box, but believe me, the answer is out there. And once you realize this, it is incredibly empowering.
You are back in control.
However long it takes, hopefully not too long, you will find the answer for that problem.
Once you do, the monsters will disappear until another challenge comes your way. Remember to shine the light into the darkness.
3. Remember your “WHY”.
So important. And SOO easy to forget.
Remember when you wrote in a piece of paper somewhere, or perhaps in you notebook, why you are doing this?
Why are you putting up with all the doubters and the naysayers?
Why are you dealing with all the ups and downs of becoming who you know you were meant to be, the challenges, the bad days, the frustrations, the isolation, the steep learning curves along the way, and all that is yet to come?
Why do you do it? In my case, I have a list of about 30 “WHYs”. All of them are relevant. When I find a new WHY, I added it to the list.
I also try to read them as often as possible to keep myself motivated.
You may have one WHY and that’s fine. Let it fill. Get laser focused on WHY you do what you do.
4. Don’t beat yourself up.
Hey, it’s alright to screw up once in a while. Really.
Don’t be so critical with yourself. You are learning new skills, including a new way to look at things. You are learning a new mindset.
And that, my friends, takes time to learn.
Be humble. Ask for help. The key is to keep moving forward.
5. Time to get serious. No excuses.
Self explanatory here.
You want more time to do the things you enjoy most, and earn passive income on the side, you have to get serious and commit in body and mind to whatever business model you want to be successful at, online or otherwise.
It’s that simple.
Here’s a guy who knows a thing or two about comitting body and mind to the accomplishment of a goal…
Once you begin, you have to commit to being a finisher.
6. Own it.
Ok so you have challenges in your business and some of these challenges you have brought upon yourself.
We go back to accountability on this one.
Your decisions. Your results, for better or worse, are your responsibility. Own up.
This is one of the greatest lessons you will learn from leadership.
It’s a tricky business.
Your decisions will affect you, positively or negatively. Eventually they will affect you and your team.
You are the leader. You must own up your to successes and your failures.
7. Be aware of your work environment.
Look around your work area.
Is it tidy? Does it inspire you? Perhaps you have nice view to your garden. That’s great!
Many of us, however, have challenges keeping our work areas tidy.
The better you feel in your work area, the more productive and motivated you will feel to sit down and commit to those two or three hours of solid work you promised when you decided to develop whatever project you had in mind.
A quick recap…
For now, it is plenty to ponder and reflect on.
Next week I will have the second part of this article ready for you with more useful, practical information.
In the mean time, try to apply some or all of the strategies mentioned here.
Remember, get clarity first…pinpoint the source of why you are procrastinating. You do that, you are already well ahead of the crowd.
Shine the light on your fears. They are normally not as bad as you think.
When feeling unsure of how to overcome an obstacle, remember why you are doing this. So important. And instant fuel you can always rely on.
Decisions will always be part of your journey. Some will be good. Others not so much. By far. You have got to own up, learn from that experience and keep moving. It’s a huge part of being a leader. And it’s not as simple as it sounds.
Be tidy in your work surroundings. This will not only improve the quality of your work, but it will also allow you to increase your productivity, helping you keep motivated.
I hope you liked part one regarding procrastination and how to deal with this very insidious habit. Please, if you have found some of this information useful, leave me your comments below or share with someone you feel might benefit from this article. Thanks again and see you next week for part two!