Are you a member of the “Procrastination Nation?” If you are, don’t beat yourself up over it. Procrastination affects all of us at some point. Waiting until the last possible minute to complete a task you hate doing is simply human nature. I’ve become good at examining the tasks that my clients procrastinate on. They’re diagnostic. They help show me what areas can be improved to make a business more efficient, more productive, and more profitable! Dealing with procrastination can be one of the best business decisions you’ll ever make! No matter how difficult it is, you CAN overcome procrastination!
People usually procrastinate for one of the following reasons:
– They’re a perfectionist and producing perfection would take way too long
– Workload – bit off more than you can chew – can’t tell people NO
– Medical conditions like depression and anxiety
– Fear – I can’t do it – it won’t work – the result is going to be painful
Can you relate to any of the above situations?
So How Do We Overcome Procrastination?
Once you figure out why you are procrastinating, you can start developing a strategy to overcome procrastination. Below are some tools that can be extremely useful. You may need to try multiple tools to identify which ones work best for you. Don’t get discouraged. You’ll find a system that works for you. Remember, the benefit of eliminating procrastination is a smoother running business and a dramatic reduction in stress. Before I go over the strategies I’ve used to help my clients, let’s go over some basics.
Good time management and productivity go hand in hand. Here are some of my suggestions:
- Workspace: Create a workspace where you can concentrate on your work. Only do work in that space. Unless there’s 80’s music on…then brief periods of dancing should be expected.
- Limit Social Media: Keep social media and shopping limited to work breaks only. How many hours have you blown going down the Facebook or YouTube rabbit hole? It can be a real-time suck.
- Schedule: Creating a loose schedule for the day or week can help you organize your like tasks together. Studies show that doing the same sorts of tasks for a block of time will help you get ‘into a groove’ and you will get more accomplished. Don’t forget to leave yourself room for client meetings or pop-up items that may need to be handled immediately.
- Develop Schedule time to develop your business. Entrepreneurs are usually quick to dismiss business development; because they feel like they’re too busy “putting out fires.”
Organization is a Key Factor
If you don’t have an effective way of keeping yourself organized, the question isn’t WILL you forget something important, the question is WHEN. You’ve got a ton of things percolating inside your head: business issues, personal issues, pandemic issues. It’s easy to become overloaded and lose track of something crucial…we’ve all done it. Here are some organizational strategies that can help.
1. Brain Dump
Get your responsibilities down on paper so you have a visual reminder of what needs to be accomplished. I recommend using a notebook or a dry erase board…get everything out of your head. Get rid of the stress that accompanies a lengthy mental to-do list. Additionally, if you’re the type of person who has trouble telling people no, a visual list of your current workload may be the thing that helps you realize that you’ve already got enough on your plate.
2. Find Systems That Work For You
Consider your schedule, workflow, and available time and develop a system that works for you. I had a job that required several tasks be performed every day. On Monday’s I knew the phone was going to ring off the hook as soon as we opened, so I came in an hour early to complete those tasks before we opened. It was a simple shift in work hours, but it prevented chaos!
3. Use a Calendar or Planner To Layout Recurring Due Dates For Tasks
Being a bookkeeper, I have recurring tasks like reconciling accounts that occur every month. ClickUp is one of my favorite programs to schedule due dates for each client, based on their requests and preferences. I also leave gaps in my schedule which enables me to squeeze unforeseen pop-up items into the spaces between deadlines. I don’t forget the due dates; my clients remain happy and I will remain productive.
4. Break Down Large Projects
Try breaking large projects down into smaller pieces. Having a good checklist with a logical, start to finish, a workflow is a great way to stay on task and prevent you from becoming overwhelmed by the enormity of the project. It’s easier to overcome procrastination when you aren’t overwhelmed with the large list of things you need to do!
5. Do The Least Liked Tasks First
Try conquering the tasks you dislike doing at the beginning of the day…while you’ve got COFFEE to help ease the pain. If you’re like me, you’re tired at the end of the workday, and you won’t feel like doing those annoying tasks.
Pro-tip: do the annoying stuff in the morning. Your lunch will taste better!
In the almost 35 years I’ve been in the bookkeeping industry, I’ve run across many procrastinators and gotten a first-hand view of how it negatively affected their business.
One of my clients HATED to part with money. Even though Estimated Taxes are a fact of life, they resisted paying them until they were forced to. A classic example of putting off what they didn’t like to do! This client wound up with a $30k tax bill because they didn’t pay quarterly taxes. We had to create a payment plan with the IRS. If you’ve never had to set up one of these beauties, I recommend you avoid it! It certainly cost more than $30k once a substantial setup fee and penalties/interest were tacked on. The following year, I helped this client develop a payment schedule that covered the prior year’s payment plan and paid in estimated taxes monthly. It was a huge success because it was broken down into 12 manageable payments instead of one large payment.
Client 2 had a business managed by someone who did not like confronting their own employees. When a business manager doesn’t implement standards and hold their employees accountable, chaos quickly follows! Money came up missing, there was no cash reconciliation process, people stopped showing up for their assigned work shifts. Naturally, customer approval tanked!
The manager avoided dealing with the employees because confrontation made them uncomfortable and anxious. The situation deteriorated to the point where there was no longer a choice. I advised the business owner to create an employee handbook and to have each employee sign and date an acknowledgment of the standards. Disciplinary and cash reconciliation systems were also put in place. The business’s finances quickly turned around. Customers received better service and the on-line reviews improved as well. Once the new standards were implemented, the manager regained control of a business that had clearly got away from them.
These two case studies illustrate the positive effects of dealing with procrastination. In both cases, procrastination masked a flaw in the business that had to be addressed. Working closely with my clients, I was able to help both put a system in place to turn a negative into a positive.
Remember, everyone procrastinates, but please recognize that it can be a sign that there’s an aspect of your business that needs help. Evaluate why you’re avoiding that task and deal with the issue. That way you can get back to that 80’s music! 💃