You know the feeling: you’re coming up on a deadline, and you’ve waited until the last minute to even get started. Or worse, because you’re a solopreneur (and no one is looking over your shoulder) you keep pushing the “deadline” to give yourself more time. And then you use that extra time for something else. (Can you hear my sigh of understanding?)
Procrastination is the enemy of entrepreneurs the world over. And while some manage to stay away from the alluring trap of last-minute work, many of us get stuck in what seems like a never-ending cycle of 2-AM-project-finishing.
In this article, I’m going to give you my top techniques for beating procrastination, specifically for creatives and yarnpreneurs! Before we get started with the tips though, I want to make sure you do one thing: be gentle with yourself.
Don’t beat yourself up over past procrastination episodes. At its core, procrastination is a habit, one we’re usually taught, or we acquire over years of school or workplace projects. Overwhelmed solopreneurs are more susceptible to falling into the trap of last-minute overwork as well.
Examine Your Workload
One of the most common reasons we resort to procrastination is when we’re simply doing too much. Start by taking a look at the bigger projects you’re currently working on. Are there too many to reasonably get done in the time frame you’ve allotted? Alternatively, do you have too many little projects or unfinished tasks that have piled up to make it, so you’re not able to complete them?
If you’ve determined that you’ve taken on too much, then you have to start the difficult process of cutting projects or tasks to allow you time to complete the most important items on your list. Don’t be shy. You’ll need to be ruthless during this process to make real headway.
Examine The Habit
My next tip for reducing procrastination is to examine the habit. If you find yourself procrastinating often, it’s likely turned into a habit (as opposed to a last resort reserved only for emergencies). While habits can be hard to break, the first step is acknowledging that it’s turned into a destructive habit. Breaking a habit will be different for everyone. A few things I recommend to help: set a lot of alarms. Use tools like alarms to remind you to get things done on time. I also recommend breaking tasks down into tiny, bite-sized pieces. We can often put off a task that feels daunting. By breaking it down, we can avoid that feeling of overwhelm.
Track Your Progress
Create a simple procrastination tracker and post it in your workspace. Give yourself points for getting things done ahead of time, and you can even set rewards up in advance to give yourself extra incentive! Even though habits can be hard to break down, the upside is that once the new habit is formed, you don’t have to work nearly as hard at it.
Lastly, I’d like to talk about perfectionism and how it can block your productivity and contribute to overwork and procrastination. As creatives, we tend to lean towards also being perfectionists. We like to make sure our work is as perfect as possible before sending it out into the world. Unfortunately, this trait usually means we get stuck working and reworking things or sometimes we don’t even get past the first step in a project because we can’t seem to get it “just right.”
Difference Between Quality & Perfection
To help combat this for you, I’d like to point out the differences between quality and perfection.
I am a big stickler for quality in my products. All my courses are proof-read multiple times, they all get custom graphics made, etc. Not only do I want my students and members to get great value from the content of the course, but I always want to make sure they have a smooth experience with the technology, and the course is visually engaging and well put together.
However, even with all of those elements in place, I would never consider my courses perfect… or even close. There are always improvements to be made, and I could fiddle with the way they look, what they say, or how they say it just about all day long. Instead, I’ve come up with a template that I’m happy with, that I think gives users the best experience possible, without making me a slave to the creation of that course.
After all, my business is built on the courses that I can provide to my members and students; if I got stuck on one, I wouldn’t have a business!
So if you find yourself paralyzed by perfectionism, I encourage you instead to find a benchmark for quality that you’re happy with. Use that benchmark religiously, and adhere to it always. But once you’ve hit the mark, make sure you stop and move on to the next project. If you use these tips and guidelines, I’m sure you’ll be kicking procrastination in the butt in no time!
Written by Jess Mason, the founder of The Yarnpreneur Society