About Lisa Crilley Mallis

Lisa Crilley Mallis works with focused, successful business owners who still want to achieve more without giving up their nights and weekends. For more than 15 years, she has provided customized, practical solutions to everyday challenges as the owner of Impactive Strategies, located in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. To learn more, visit www.ImpactiveStrategies.com.

Overcome Procrastination in Three Easy Steps

You are a dedicated business owner. I know this because you are taking time to increase your professional development by reading this magazine and this article.

Because you are a business owner who is dedicated to success, it would make sense that you don’t procrastinate—right? You can quickly and easily accomplish all the important tasks and projects that help move your business forward. Your taxes are completed ahead of time. You are never up late at night looking for data to complete an estimate. You never have to redo tasks because you made errors as you were trying to finish by the deadline.

Before you stop reading in frustration, know that according to Tim Pychyl, author of Solving the Procrastination Puzzle, everyone procrastinates. So, you are not alone!

The question really becomes, how do you overcome your procrastination? There isn’t a “one size fits all” solution to the procrastination challenge. However, there is a process you can follow to find your solution.
Use the acronym A.W.E.
A – Awareness. What are some of the tasks you procrastinate on most often?
W – Work. What are some strategies to help put yourself in motion?
E – Evaluation. What worked and how do you do more of it?

The Three-Step Process

Let’s start with awareness. What are some of the tasks that typically cause you to procrastinate? Do you avoid invoicing clients? Or posting on social media? Or sending estimates? Or evaluating employees? Or doing customer service follow-up calls? Or meeting with your accountant? Or creating a marketing plan? Or creating a business plan?

Start to really think about the tasks you put off. Now that you have a good idea about what those tasks are, it’s time to create a strategy to overcome procrastination. This is the work phase.

According to Pychyl, we procrastinate when we find a task unattractive. The more unattractive, the more we procrastinate. Unattractive tasks have one or more of the following traits. They are:

  • Boring
  • Frustrating
  • Difficult
  • Unstructured or ambiguous
  • Lacking in personal meaning
  • Lacking in intrinsic rewards (not fun!)
  • Which trait corresponds to your task? Do you procrastinate when it comes to invoicing clients because you find paperwork boring and frustrating? Do you put off evaluating employees because you find conflict (or perceived conflict) difficult? Have you decided that you’ll do a marketing plan next year (or the year after that) because the whole idea is ambiguous and you don’t even know where to start?

    Once you can identify the trait that’s holding you back, you can create a strategy to help move yourself into action. If a task is boring, make it fun. (OK, maybe paperwork won’t ever be fun, but it can be less boring.) Play music loud, challenge yourself to finish the task in under 20 minutes, and reward yourself when it is done.

    If creating a marketing plan seems ambiguous, add some structure to it. Talk it out with some colleagues. Consult with a marketing professional. Do some reading on marketing plans. Decide what your goals are for the plan. Figure out just one step. Once you’ve identified even one step, it becomes much easier to move into action.

    Finally, evaluation. When you can do more of what works and less of what doesn’t, life becomes much easier. Yet you seldom take the time to slow down long enough to think through what is working! Take 10 minutes to check back at the end of the week. Which strategies worked? Where are you procrastinating less? Where do you still need to problem solve?

    By following the steps spelled out in A.W.E., you will be able to reduce the amount of time you procrastinate and increase your capacity to accomplish more in less time. Which leaves you with a lot more time to do all those things you love to do!