5 Ways To Power Through Procrastination
Procrastination is the thief of time. Collar him! Charles Dickens
I’d like to tell you that every morning I wake up energised, focused and ready to power through my to do list but that would be a big fat lie! At times I can be a world-class procrastinator, especially when there’s things on my to do list that I dislike but can’t delegate. However over the years I’ve learnt how to beat the time thief that is procrastination and be more effective at growing my equine business as a result.
These are my 5 top ways to do it, some of the ideas might not work at all for you but I’d encourage you to experiment with them.
1) Use music
I rarely work in silence but neither do I want to be distracted by lyrics or the chatter on the radio, especially when I’m doing something that needs deep focus. Luckily there are a lot of options available instead is silence or “elevator musik”.
I subscribe to Brain.fm, a service that provides music designed for the brain to enhance focus, relaxation, meditation and sleep within 10 – 15 minutes of use. It’s a clever combination of neuroscience and artificial intelligence. I mostly use the focus and meditation settings and find it really helpful.
Another option is Binaural beats – these beats have been shown to increase focus, improve memory, and help you get better (and deeper) sleep (click here for a more detailed explanation). If it all sounds a bit new-age and out there, consider how almost every ancient culture has used consistent, rhythmic sound for healing and spiritual benefits. There’s tons of free binaural tracks on Youtube and Spotify so why not give it a try? Don’t forget to use headphones though to get the maximum benefit and avoid listening whilst driving.
Here’s a Youtube track to get you started.
Another music related trick I use is to play the same song on repeat for long periods of time via Spotify. It’s normally a song I love and know really well, so it can sink into the background for me. The genre changes depending on what I’m obsessing on. At the moment it’s Shallow by Lady Gaga from A Star Is Born.
2) Set a timer
This is such an easy way to break the resistance that is stopping you getting started. If I’m really struggling I set a timer for 15 minutes on my phone and give myself permission to stop when the buzzer goes. What normally happens is that as I hit the 5 minute mark I start to drop into flow with whatever I’m doing and find it easy to carry on when the timer is up.
If I have a long day at my desk in my home office I use the ultraworking work cycles technique of 30 minutes of intense sprinting, followed by a 10 minute break when I have to step away from the computer. In the 10 minute break I make sure I do something totally different, which might be reading a novel in the garden or a kitchen rave dance break with some loud music.
3) Change your location
Sometimes you just need to mix things up and I’m a big believer that a change is as good as a rest. So if I’m getting really stuck at a task I’ll decamp to a local coffee shop for a change of scenery and that normally presses the creative reset button (the coffee helps too). I also find it really easy to focus when on a train, so sometimes I’ll book a slower train journey so I can have an extra hour of work time on the train.
4) Give yourself a reward
Again this is a pretty personal one as to what motivates you but a reward can be a really effective way of slaying procrastination. I love horses and food so these are both powerful motivators! I often won’t allow myself to eat breakfast until I get a task I’ve been avoiding done. If it’s in the afternoon, a slice of cake does the trick.
I’m lucky to have built a lot of flexibility into my working hours, so on a lovely sunny day I’ll schedule in some horse time in the early afternoon, but only if the morning jobs have been ticked off.
Working with others can be a really powerful motivator, especially if you work from home by yourself most of the time. I’m fortunate to have desk space in the Natwest Accelerator so can go and work in the office in a buzzy part of the city and surrounded by other entrepreneurs, which always gives me an energy hit. I’ll also arrange to meet up with business buddies for co-working sessions. These are great because I’ve got a sounding board to bounce ideas off as well as someone to give me a gentle kick when I’m getting bogged down with decision paralysis.
If it’s hard to arrange to meet up in person because you’re in a very rural area, have business or child care commitments or just struggle for time, then an online hangout can be just as effective. I’ll regularly video call or have a messenger conversation going with a fellow entrepreneur. Just make sure if you are doing this that your chat doesn’t become another form of procrastination! Schedule a check in for 30-60 minutes time, set your timer, close down the chat window, crack on and then check back in online.
If you’ve not got an in-person or online co-worker to hang out with, why not use the EBA Facebook group to find someone? You need to be a member to participate in the group, so if you’re reading this blog and haven’t joined yet, it’s time to stop procrastinating! Click here to find out more about the benefits of EBA membership and to join today.