Yesterday was one of those days where I planned to tackle one strategic essential (but not urgent) task and ended up getting
little nothing accomplished. No matter whether there were several one or two valid reasons or not, having days like that isn’t good for business and doesn’t feel very good.
The good news is if you struggle or feel stuck sometimes too, you are in good company. Every successful entrepreneur and creative that I know describes a similar struggle with this thing called resistance. We all have those moments or weeks (yes, some stagnate for much, much longer than that) when movement seems slow, progress feels non existent or when we procrastinate our time away.
After yesterday, I decided to make a list of the quick (research-based) fixes I use to make a little progress, especially on the toughest days, so that I have them ready for next time:
- Walk away from the computer. Take a shower. Go outside for a 5 minute walk. Make a phone call. Drive somewhere. Take the dog for a walk.
- Pre-empt procrastination by creating a to-do list the evening before. Take a few minutes in the evening (yes even when you are tired) and write down the one to two tasks you want to work on. Remember it takes 2 to 10 times longer for the average person (you are anything but average) to complete a task than the time they estimate.
- Write down your goal. Are you clear on your company or professional goal and mission? Obvious, maybe for you, but write it down anyway along with why you are doing it. If your goal is long term (more than 12 months out), then write down an interim goal for this year.
- Get support. Most entrepreneurs, companies, and individuals that I have worked with could eventually get the job done on their own. The key word being eventually. Although you may be able to figure it out on your own, it will be easier and more fun if you surround yourself with an abundance of support – friends, colleagues, professional consulting and coaching help, etc. DO. NOT go it alone.
- Habit wins over willpower every. single. time. Small steps taken over a long period of time will yield results. Have a few habits and stick with them. My morning typically goes like this: drop my daughter off at school (won’t be doing that much longer as she will have her license shortly), pick up my mobile order from Starbucks, run/work out), walk the dog, write. My day starts early so I am sitting at my desk by 9 or 9:15 to write. I save all my meetings, email follow up, and project work for the afternoon because those tasks are easier for me to get done. Confession: Yesterday, I sat at in the Starbucks parking lot after picking up my coffee, and got worked up about the upcoming Presidential election by reading social media posts. The presidential election is important and I value social media as a communications method regarding big issues, but nothing would have changed if I waited until after writing or after lunch to get a pulse on the latest news.
- Microsteps are the magic sauce. When you have your one essential, important action you plan to work on for the day, break it up into small, ridiculously easy micro steps, especially for those hard-to-do, high procrastination tasks. And when I say ridiculously easy, I mean that. Writing a report? Open Word and create a new document may be the first item on your list.
- Get strategic. If your procrastination is habitual and has prevented you from making progress for weeks, months or longer, it may be time to look at the bigger picture and making sure you are heading in the right direction. Resistance is par for the course when heading toward something that is important to you so I am not suggesting quitting, but check in with yourself (or get professional support if you need it) and intentionally consider whether you are heading in the right direction.
Those are some of my favorite tools to move forward when I am stuck. Now it’s your turn. Write down what helps you feel unstuck and use one of the techniques next time you are in a funk.