I know you’ve been there. You finally get some quiet time to work. Even maybe a couple of hours. But when you check in at your progress after you’re finished, you didn’t get anything done.
And now you have to pay the babysitter.
You’re left wondering what happened. You had all of this time, no interruptions from your family and you still didn’t manage to tackle important items on your to do list.
It sounds like you’re suffering from a bad case of procrastination. I’m sure you remember from your days in school. Having to do homework and putting it off until the last minute. Or needing to complete that school project and waiting until the day before to even start.
Luckily, during school, procrastination didn’t have so many consequences. These days, with time being tighter and feeling the need to get started, it’s hard to beat procrastination.
Procrastination is the art of putting off the things that we really need to get done.
I find procrastinating happens a lot when you work for yourself. There’s always tomorrow to get started. But, really, you’d be better off starting today. Because is anything going to have really changed by tomorrow.
Even if you think that you work better when you are on a deadline, if you procrastinate too often your work and personal life can start to suffer. You might feel more anxious, overwhelmed and behind on your goals. It’s never fun to constantly have a to do list that never gets done.
There are ways to win the battle against procrastination, though. You can stop putting things off and dig deep to find motivation to get going on that to do list. Here are 8 easy ways to beat procrastination and be more successful in your creative business.
One of the reasons I fail to even start my day sometimes is because the task that I am facing is way too big. I get overwhelmed easily. And when what I have to do looks like a giant, I procrastinate like crazy.
Instead of trying to tackle a big, huge task all at once, why not break that task into smaller pieces.
When I’m facing a huge goal – such as starting an Etsy shop – I work on it with the little bit every day strategy. This strategy breaks a huge, overwhelming to do list item into small bits.
I am much less likely to procrastinate starting my work when I have a task that I can accomplish before me. After you complete the first step of your task, you move onto the next one. Over time, the entire task gets completed.
It might not seem overly efficient at first, but at least you’re starting to work towards your goals. Instead of getting stuck in one place.
Make It Easy (at least at first)
Everyone likes to start their day in different ways. Some people enjoy tackling the hardest item on their to do list first.
I admire these people a lot. My day usually starts around 5:30 a.m. And to be honest – I’m not really up to getting that huge to do item off my list at that hour.
I recently had the chance to meet children’s author and illustrator Rosemary Wells. She did a children’s talk at our local library.
During her talk, she walked the kids through the behind the scenes of her studio. She also discussed how she warmed up her brain in the morning to work on her writing and art.
Instead of tackling the toughest task on her to do list first, she painted in a house. Every single morning before starting her work.
This exercise of painting awakened her hand and put her in the creative spirit.
If the idea of jumping right into your day is causing some procrastination, try making it easier and start slower. Write in a journal. Meditate. Work out. Sip your coffee and just think. Whatever tasks get your mind going.
You can also add a short, easy task as the first one on your agenda. Get something that you know you can do out of the way and then tackle the hard stuff. This sense of accomplishment early in your day will help you beat procrastination and be more successful all day long.
Don’t be Too Hard on Yourself
Sometimes our to do lists just don’t work out. Kids wake up sick. It snows. A lot. Your toddler won’t nap. And the babysitter didn’t show up.
No matter what causes you to derail your productivity and procrastinate until tomorrow (some of these things are probably not in your control, anyway), don’t be too hard on yourself.
One thing that I always do as an entrepreneur is beat myself up when I’m not productive enough. I am my worst boss.
If you find that you are procrastinating the start of a task or productivity has gotten the better of you, be gentle on yourself. Maybe even try some self-care activities.
My favorite activity when I’m trying to beat procrastination is coloring. It let’s me find my creative edge without much thought. And I promise not to be too hard on myself if I go out of the lines.
Identify What You Don’t Like
Many times when we procrastinate about something, it’s because we don’t want to do it. Sometimes we’re afraid. Other times we just don’t like it for one reason or another.
If you find yourself struggling with procrastination, identify what you don’t like about the task that you need to do. For example, I’ve been updating my Etsy shop. Each listing needs a new description and added variations. This is a very tedious job since I need to manually update each part of the listing.
Every time starting this job was on my to do list, I skipped over it. Eventually, I had procrastinated starting for months. During those months, my business lost money and orders from customers looking for those specific quantities.
When I finally realized that I was losing more than I was gaining from procrastinating, I started analyzing what I didn’t like about the task itself. It turns out that the job is very tedious and time consuming. For a designer who likes to spend her time being creative, updating an entire shop manually isn’t very fun.
After I realized that I hated the tedious aspect of the task, I started looking for ways to get over it. I broke the task into a certain number of listings each day. I always have tea to sip and music to rock to when I’m working on it. And when I schedule my work time, I don’t spend more than an hour and a half on it.
Doing these things has helped me beat procrastination and get started on a very tedious task.
If you find that you are avoiding the same task over and over again, identify reasons why you don’t want to do it. Once you understand the parts that you hate doing, try to find ways around them.
Hire the entire task or a specific part out. Gain knowledge that will make the task easier. And find other ways to improve your work environment that will help you stop procrastinating.
Find your Reason Why
One of the reasons why people procrastinate is because they don’t know exactly why they need to complete a task. They lose motivation to accomplish their goals and, sometimes, forget their goals altogether.
If you are having trouble beating procrastination, go back to your why.
Why are you working on the task in the first place? Where are you hoping it will lead you?
Even if you are working a full time job in a career that you aren’t the happiest about, there is still a why. It might be as simple as needing to feed your family and pay your mortgage. That’s motivation right there.
Remember your why. Use this motivation to get over your procrastination and tackle the task ahead.
Distractions are everywhere. Whether it’s your phone celebrating your latest Etsy sale. That cha-ching sound can be addictive.
Or your need to scroll through social media or check your email every hour. Or maybe your kids need help in the kitchen or with their school work.
Distractions are all over the place. Whether we like it or not. And they love to fuel our ability to procrastinate.
Make a plan to reduce the distractions around you. Put your phone on airplane mode before you start working. Close your email in your browser. Get a babysitter for your kids so you can work.
Once you eliminate some of these distractions, you won’t have an excuse to continue to procrastinate.
Use a To Do List
If you are still having trouble staying focused, you might need to use a to do list to help you stop procrastinating. I love to do lists. Especially written ones.
My favorite part is crossing off the things that I get done each day. There’s something fulfilling about feeling the pencil cross through the item and knowing that it is completed.
I know there are a lot of apps out there and everyone has the “perfect to do list”. Honestly, all you really need is a blank piece of paper.
Sometimes, I use my must do list on a clipboard. Other times I write everything down for the day in my planner. Then, I cross the items off as I do them. It eliminates the chances that I’ll procrastinate because I couldn’t remember what to do next. This has happened. (I won’t admit how often.)
Find a to do list system that works for you. Although you can go fancy, it’s not necessary. One of my favorite methods is using blank index cards. I just write my list out for the day and keep it somewhere I can see it.
Find a Buddy
Some of us aren’t very good staying on track by ourselves. And that’s okay.
A few years ago, I wanted to start exercising more. We’d just moved to a new area and I didn’t know anyone. A friend of mine invited me to join an exercise accountability group on Facebook. I thought okay. But wasn’t sure how it would help.
It’s amazing how motivating it can be watching your friends update their exercise regimens for the day. It made me want to get out there and move too.
If you are struggling with procrastination and working on your creative business (or even life), find a buddy to help. This buddy could be working on a similar goal as you (like starting a business) or might just be someone who is supportive.
Not sure where to start? I found joining our local woman entrepreneur group really helpful. Members are always looking for accountability buddies to help them stay motivated and productive. If you want to meet someone in person, attend an event and start networking. You never know who you might meet.
Don’t have time to find a buddy in person? Join a Facebook Group to help motivate you. There are lots of groups out there where you can find others at the same point in their business journey. You can work together to keep each other accountable or buddy up with just one person.
One of my favorite ways to beat procrastination is to reward my successes. It turns out that I’m not that different from my kids. Rewards keep me motivated.
If you are trying to accomplish a big goal or just attempting to stop procrastinating altogether, set up a reward to treat yourself.
I recently spoke with an Etsy shop seller who wanted to add digital products into her shop. With the demands of her handmade shop, she was finding it impossible to set aside the time to get the task done. She kept procrastinating.
In order to beat her procrastination, she booked herself into a 5 star hotel. She planned on rewarding herself with luxury while working in the hotel lounge to get it completed. Although her reward was a little early, she knew that the comfort of her surroundings and removal of distractions would help her complete the task at hand.
When thinking about rewards, consider what really motivates you. For me it’s weekends away as a family. If I complete my quarterly goals on time, I reward myself with a quiet weekend away. We don’t go far. But having time together as a family helps me remember why it’s really important to not procrastinate my time away.
No matter how good you are at productivity, everyone experiences bouts of procrastination every once and awhile. There’s always something that we aren’t crazy about doing even if we love our businesses. And we will try to put it off no matter what.
Work hard to beat procrastination so you can find more success and productivity. Start small in the mornings. Make it easy to get going on your work. And don’t be too hard on yourself if it doesn’t work out.
Most importantly, know exactly what you’re working towards. Keeping our goals in mind helps motivate us to get stuff done. Big things. And not put them off until tomorrow.
And remember, the best time to start any task is today. So, it’s time to beat procrastination and start working towards your goals again.