If you put critical tasks off for too long you may find yourself without enough time to get them done properly. This is important because rushed work tends to be sloppy and less desirable for clients.
Procrastinating may even cause you to lose a client, or worse, your business. Yet, many of us put off necessary tasks every day without even realizing it.
In this post, I’ll tackle some of the reasons why we procrastinate and provide practical steps that you can easily follow to overcome it.
10 Ways to Keep from Procrastinating
With a little planning and a little effort, you can keep yourself on track. Use these tips and tricks to keep your procrastination from getting out of hand:
- Set a schedule. While I’m sure that your schedule includes your most important tasks, such as client meetings and project milestones, do you also schedule less essential tasks as well? Tasks like completing your quarterly income tax returns or invoicing your clients won’t perform themselves. And if you’re like me, if it’s not on your schedule it doesn’t get done…
- Get organized. It’s easy to put things off when you can’t find them. Let’s face it, disorganization can make even a simple task seem difficult. Find a system to organize your business and your life. Stick with it, and get things done. Don’t let a messy desk, unorganized files, or a sloppy email inbox keep you from getting right down to business.
- Find an accountability partner. As freelancers we don’t have anyone who will hold us responsible for getting tasks done. There’s no boss or team leader to crack down on us if we don’t meet our goals. You can overcome the lack of a boss by finding an accountability partner. This could be a friend or family member, or even another freelancer.
- Break large tasks into smaller tasks. Another reason many freelancers put off doing something is because it seems insurmountable. You just don’t know where to start. You can make a large task less daunting by breaking it into smaller pieces and tackling those small pieces one by one. If you’re facing a large task, see if it can be broken into parts.
- Don’t overcommit. Some freelancers procrastinate because they commit to too many projects. Then, when they realize all that they have actually committed to do, they are overwhelmed. You can keep from getting too overwhelmed by keeping your schedule manageable and realistic. Be sure to record each new task on your schedule as soon as you receive it (and allow yourself enough time for each).
- Control distractions. Are you easily distracted? If you answered “yes,” you may need to take some steps to change your environment. Try to learn what distracts you the most and take steps to minimize those things. Does a ringing phone bother you? Try turning the ringer off except for an hour a day. Are you drawn to too much social media? Try timing your social media interactions.
- Figure out what motivates you. Sometimes freelancers procrastinate because they’re just not very motivated by the work they have to do. If this is you, figure out what type of work does motivate you. Try to target those projects more often. If you have a project that you’re really looking forward to, you may find that your procrastination habit evaporates.
- Track your progress. It’s easy to fall behind on a project (especially a large project) without even knowing it. Before you know it, it’s impossible to catch up. Keeping regular track of where you are on a project versus where you should be on it can help you stay on course. Large companies track their project’s progress using project management tools and so should you.
- Tackle self-doubt and other psychological issues. Procrastination is sometimes caused by psychological issues like self-doubt, fear of success, or other fears. If you’re struggling with these underlying issues, putting work off may be one way that you are subconsciously sabotaging your own success. Deal with the underlying cause and your procrastination should improve.
- Reward your success. Are you still struggling with procrastination and having trouble getting motivated? Once in a while, it’s perfectly okay to “bribe” yourself. You heard me right, give yourself a little incentive for keeping up with your work. Think of something affordable that you’d really like and promise it to yourself when your project is complete.
What About You?
In this post, I’ve shared ten different methods for overcoming procrastination. But, there are probably as many ways to fight procrastination as there are people.
Do you struggle with procrastination? What methods do you use to overcome it?
Image by bogenfreund