Entrepreneurs are driven individuals, with a great passion to create innovative businesses and companies that are changing the world. Their determination to see their venture up and running is admirable, and they often display the skills and resilience to persevere in difficult times. Since entrepreneurs usually take higher than normal risks to build and operate their businesses, it’s easy to assume that the pressure to deliver results will help them be uber focused and prevent them from procrastinating.
The company is their “baby,” their own creation and the stakes are high. They have made a decision to escape the 9 to 5 and committed to a life of ups and downs, where success depends fully on them. Knowing that, I was convinced that if a person has passion and a compelling vision, they won’t have a problem to sit and do the work.
They will be motivated and inspired at all times, as they aren’t even perceiving their business as work. Have you heard the popular sentiment : “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life?” If this is true, then why do most entrepreneurs struggle with procrastination?
The reality is that no matter how much you love your work or the pressure you feel to deliver, at times you still find yourself procrastinating. You end up wasting time, doing activities that are not connected to generating revenue or are not even a top priority. I am an entrepreneur and absolutely love my work. I don’t rely on any other sources of income and it’s all up to me if my business will succeed or not. Even knowing this, I still procrastinate often.
After exploring different productivity apps, reminders, accountability structures and many other tools, below are two simple, but very powerful actionable steps to get into action:
1. Prioritizing your daily tasks, starting with the most important one.
The one you usually dread facing the most. There is something about it which makes you avoid it and do all the rest, less important tasks. Everytime you think about it, it gives you that intense feeling of being overwhelmed. You try your hardest to find excuses to keep putting it off. You often say to yourself: “I’m not fully ready…I won’t have enough time to complete it today, so I’ll pick another day when I have less going on. I’m not feeling as energetic as I need to be in order to pitch today, so I’ll do something else.”
At the end of the day It would be in the back of your mind and sitting heavy on your chest. It will make you feel stuck with some unfinished business. As an entrepreneur you are most likely a high-achiever and often beat yourself up when you see that daunting task still marked on the calendar.
Sometimes we allow ourselves the luxury of having too much freedom to create and change our own schedule. As much as we love flexibility, when it comes to procrastination, the solution is rather straightforward. We just have to take action and dive in, which is of course the hardest part. So how do we approach the most daunting task, the one we do our best to avoid? Not knowing how to “trick” ourselves to sit down and actually do the daunting task is one of the reasons we procrastinate.
“The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.” – Vince Lombardi
2. The secret is to break it into really, really small pieces.
You can do it in terms of time or in terms of portions of the project. Here are some examples:
- You have to make 10 sales calls today. Your mind might perceive that task as too big . You start thinking about all the people you need to reach out to and the thought of it generates anxiety and overwhelm. Here is the trick: what if you “tell” your brain that all you need to do is 1 call ONLY? Now suddenly, it doesn’t look so bad anymore. One call is pretty easy to do, right? The trick is to stop your mind right before it starts rationalizing. Don’t allow it to tell you that this isn’t actually true and in reality you have to accomplish all 10 calls. Just trick yourself, it works!
- Take another example. If you know any writers, you have probably heard about their golden rule to write a thousand words a day. Writer can also procrastinate. They call it a creative block because they aren’t inspired at this given day. What if they switched their goal to a couple of sentences? Once they create a few sentences, they slowly get into their creative flow.
Often, the biggest challenge is to make the first step. Once you do it, you quickly gain the rewards of feeling accomplished and productive. At the end of the day your level of satisfaction is higher, based on the fact that you worked on your main priority. You feel accomplished and more energetic to finish all the rest of the tasks.
“Faith is taking the first step even when you don‘t see the whole staircase.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
Practicing doing the hardest thing first has proven to be effective every time. It frees up space in your mind and gives you the opportunity to think about the next major step you need to make. It instantly removes a significant amount of stress and drops the weight off of your shoulders. Breaking it down to small manageable pieces will ensure your ability to get into action quicker and get more done.