One of the biggest challenges to being self-employed and owning your own business is getting over time management procrastination. It’s just so easy when you’re the boss to let things slide until it’s an emergency and you must absolutely get the task done. Especially, if you work from home! Here are a few tips to get out of this habit and start being productive today, not tomorrow.
Challenge yourself to something achievable but challenging. Sometimes we procrastinate because the task seems too large to manage. For example, you have an information product to create and just don’t know where to start. Rather than putting “create information product” on your task list, break the project up into several smaller steps. The first one could be, “Outline information product” or “Choose title for information product.” These smaller, more attainable goals are easier to accomplish and don’t feel as if they’re looming over your head. Focus on the Big Picture items that drive you to your goals. Pick 3 “big” things to work on each month and then choose 3 things every week that will drive those projects forward.
Reward yourself (with a day off). Work hard, play hard is the cliché, right? Well take advantage of it. Make a to-do list at the beginning of the week, making sure to focus on revenue generation not busy work. Promise yourself a day off, where you do something fun, when the list is complete.
It’s easier to commit to this reward if you involve other people. For example, if you make an appointment for a massage on Friday, well you had better have your task list done by Thursday night or you’re going to have to cancel on your masseuse and she’ll never book you an appointment again for cancelling at the last minute. You’re making yourself accountable.
Identify distractions. Find out what you procrastinate with. Run errands? Surf the net? Determine what distracts you. Spend a day or two working, or procrastinating, like you usually do and simply take note of what you do other than work. When you are distracted from a task, it can take up to 15 minutes to get back on track. That’s a lot of time wasted.
Eliminate distractions. Once you know what you’re using to procrastinate then it’s time to get tough. Eliminate the distractions. For example, if you find that you often let household chores deter you from being productive, schedule a time for household chores. Give yourself thirty minutes at lunchtime to get a chore list completed and then go back to work. Eliminate the reactionary pulling of “urgent” activities by creating a plan and sticking to it. If an item isn’t pushing you toward your Big Picture goals, it is not a necessary activity.
Use tools to help you. Time-tracking tools, both online and off, are great for helping you stay on task. You can, for example, use something as simple as an egg timer. Set it for thirty-five minutes. Work for thirty-five minutes and when the timer dings, give yourself ten minutes or so to stretch, walk around the block, put away the clean dishes or something other than work and then go back and set the timer again.
Set Boundaries! Work during work hours and have time that is designed to be with friends and family. You will be more creative and focused when you separate the zones of your life.
Get creative with these tools and ideas, and use them to help you stay on task and stop procrastinating.