Six Ways Procrastination is Killing Your Business
If you think everything can wait until tomorrow, your business will suffer today (and you, too)
See if this sounds familiar: a mountain of work awaits you, but you’re tired, stressed out or maybe you just want to go hang out with friends, so you push the work aside for another time. You figure your deadline isn’t for another week or so, and tomorrow is another day, after all, when you will be ready to buckle down and get things done. The only problem is, when tomorrow comes, you decide that the work can wait another day because there are other things that need your attention. You might have a favorite TV show you need to catch up on, or maybe you should get your errands done, but there’s always something that you can find to do instead of working. And don’t even get me started on that black hole they call YouTube…
If the above statements ring a bell, well, you’re not alone. Most of us fall prey to the beast called procrastination. Procrastination is a sneaky creature, creeping up slowly, eating away at your time and draining all of your energy before you even know what has happened. It’s the classic sentiment, “Putting off tomorrow what you can get done today.”
Whether you want to just relax, or you decide to fill your time with other “work,” you just seem to do everything but the tasks that need to get done. This, my friends, is a frightening foe to be sure, especially since it is completely self-created. That’s right, procrastination at its heart is a self-sabotaging trait that can wreak havoc on an individual and kill a business.
The good news is that it can be vanquished. There are ways to stop procrastination from taking over your life and destroying everything that you are trying to build.
Procrastination doesn’t just hurt your work, it can affect your health, too. “Previous research has linked chronic procrastination to a range of stress-related health problems such as headaches, digestive issues, colds and flu, and insomnia.” The best way to “cure” procrastination is to know why you do it. People procrastinate for all different reasons. It could be because of your mood at a given moment or that you feel overwhelmed and worried about how to approach an assignment. Some people simply don’t have the discipline to concentrate on long-term goals, while others have a misconstrued sense of how long projects will take to accomplish. If you know your “why,” then you can figure out the best way to overcome your habit of putting things off for a later date.
So, how exactly is procrastination killing your business? Check out these six ways that procrastinating can tear down everything you are trying to build up, and what you can do to fix it:
- Procrastination Creates Poor Performance- Inevitably, delaying tasks means that things either don’t get done well or don’t get done at all. If you’re constantly waiting until the last minute to work on your projects, you risk rushing through the process and getting shoddy results. When you procrastinate, it results in more mistakes, diminished quality, lateness, and overall poor performance. If you find yourself always underestimating the time it will take you to complete an assignment, then you’re doomed to a cycle of procrastination that can feel almost impossible to break.
- Give Yourself More Time to Take Baby Steps – If you know time management is a struggle for you, then break up all of your tasks into smaller chunks, or mini-goals. Create a game plan in the beginning for how you will tackle a project, and then set timers to help you stick to each mini-goal you have set. Avoid distractions, some great apps to help you stay on track are Toggl, Offtime, and Todoist. However long you think a project will take, double it, no more underestimating your time.
- Procrastination Creates Roadblocks – Less time to work is a big obstacle, but it isn’t the only roadblock that procrastination causes. Obstacles come in all different disguises, including fear of failure, disappointing others, being berated and severe anxiety. If you’re a perfectionist, then you might feel that if you can’t do something better than anyone else, you shouldn’t do it at all, and this is a giant roadblock to your success. A lot of these obstacles are put in place due to a lack of self-confidence, high stress levels, exhaustion or a combination of these factors.
- A Little Self-Love Goes a Long Way- It might seem a little cliché, but tell yourself every day that you are worth it. Remember, nobody’s perfect, and anyone who thinks he is, is a fool. Tell yourself you can do this and just get started. As you check things off of your to-do list, you’ll find that your confidence gets a boost each time. Many efficiency experts suggest beginning your day by making your bed, and the reason for this is so you can feel accomplished at the start of every morning. And while doing the easy items first can pile up those checks on your check-list, you also want to encourage growth. Do something every day that makes you step out of your comfort zone, this is by far the best way to grow as a person and to knock down roadblocks for good.
- Procrastination Creates a Less Than Stellar Image – If you can’t get things done on time, turn out subpar work and, in general, are just disorganized, then people are going to notice. The fact is, these habits spill over into every aspect of your life and your business. Even if you get in an assignment at the deadline every single time, clients and colleagues can tell when you are frazzled. Even if they don’t admit it, subconsciously this may keep them from assigning you tasks that are perceived as urgent, difficult, or that will otherwise allow you to shine.
- Build a Team of Experts – If you have a great product or service, or you have a ton of great ideas, it will all be for nothing if you can’t present it in an effective way. Sometimes, you need a helping hand, or two or three. Outsourcing different tasks, such as writing content, graphic design or managing social media, can be a huge benefit for your business, not to mention your well-being. It helps to lighten your load so that you can focus more on the things that require your personal attention. It’s extremely important to note here, that while outsourcing can be very helpful, it only works if you pick the right person to complete your task and then trust them. If you give the task to someone who’s not qualified (or you don’t provide instruction), you might be sorry and end up re-completing it yourself. On the other side, if you give a great worker good instructions and a task to complete, don’t micro-manage. It will leave them feeling frustrated and will waste even more of everyone’s time.
- Procrastination Creates Unsatisfied Customers- Nothing will squash a business faster than unsatisfied customers. Especially in today’s internet laden society where people can toss out a review before they’ve even had time to sit down. Simply put, if you don’t get your job done, your customers are going to walk away, and they’re going to tell everybody about it.
- Put Your Customers First – There is nothing to debate here, your customers are the most important part of your business. Part of your game plan needs to be a way to keep in touch with your clients, to have an open line of communication and a method to hear your customers needs. Procrastinating when it comes to customers is not allowed, and it doesn’t just apply to your current clients, either. You need to make sure to keep in regular contact with current, past, and prospective clients on a regular basis. You can create regularly scheduled newsletters that your customers can receive via email and you can schedule social media posts. This is a way to let your customers know that you are there if you need them. It keeps you and your business visible. If you have trouble with this, then this is a definite area that you need to outsource because there is no room for error when it comes to your clients.
- Procrastination Creates Burn-out – If you push everything off tomorrow after tomorrow, you create an inevitable train wreck for yourself. Work continues to pile up, and the more it does, the more overwhelmed you become. You might start to feel like it’s just too much, and that you can’t handle the pressure. You may become increasingly stressed and anxious, and ultimately, you burn-out. When you reach this point you aren’t good for anyone, least of all yourself. Your business will suffer because of it, and so will anyone involved, including employees, customers, and partners.
- Breathe and Reward Yourself – That’s right, breathe, get a little zen and relax. Schedule regular breaks throughout your work period to help prevent you from becoming overwhelmed, and if stress starts to creep in before your break, then take a moment to step away (set a timer to stay on track). Remember those mini-goals you created? Choose several items or experiences to reward yourself with as you accomplish each goal. Keep a picture or reminder of your reward nearby yo help you stay focused.
- Procrastination Creates Fake Goals – When you procrastinate, you tend to lose sight of your long-term goals and start to focus on short-term goals that trick you into feeling like you are accomplishing something. You may spend more of your time concentrating on insignificant tasks or things that ultimately bring you no closer to a successful business. If you focus more on the now, instead of on the future, then you end up risking a lot of potential gains over the long haul. Take the example of the classic “marshmallow experiment,” where kids who resisted the immediate satisfaction of eating one marshmallow, were granted two marshmallows if they could wait. The kids who were able to stay focused on the future reward were able to stay disciplined and pass-up the instant gratification of the one marshmallow.
- Weigh Your Pros and Cons – Make a list of all of the pros and cons that exist for completing a task on time. If you flake on a project or put it off until a later date, what will be the potential future gains that will be lost? Are they worth losing? Are the short-term satisfactions worth your long-term dreams? It’s important to make an assessment of your big-picture frequently to see where you stand.
Being aware of the ways procrastination can hurt your business, and affect your overall state of well-being, is the first step in resolving the issue. Start putting some of these fixes into practice today, so that you can overcome your hurdles and stop procrastination in its tracks. For more advice on how to steer your business toward success check out our other articles. If you need some expert advice on the next direction you should take, reach out to us today and we’ll be happy to answer all of your questions and get you started on a path toward achieving your goals!