Hello my name is Ailish and I am a procrastinator.
Oh it feels good to get that off my chest! I've been aware of this affliction for a long time and it's something that I am constantly battling. Do you suffer with this too? You get an idea and you feel excited and passionate about it. You spend time fleshing out the details and coming up with a plan and then......nothing....silence....you don't follow through. You can't bring yourself to do it. In fact you find so many other things to do so you can avoid doing that thing.
Have you ever wondered why? Why this happens to you? Why do you go from making a decision about doing something, to finding excuses to avoid having to do it?
Procrastination rose to the surface for me again in the last number of months when I decided to start my own podcast for women entrepreneurs. I spent so much time planning and prepping episodes, even recording some but yet I couldn't bring myself to publish one.
Spoiler alert, I have since published an episode and it is on this very topic! If you would rather listen instead of reading on you can do so by clicking here.
Otherwise keep reading for my thoughts on why procrastination shows up for me and 6 ways I manage my procrastination.
When you are starting or running a business there is a lot to do. There are projects within projects. So there is little room for procrastination. And if you have been following me for a while, you'll know I'm all about working less and earning more, working smarter not harder. And procrastination makes everything hard work. When you succumb to procrastination every task feels impossible, difficult and ever scary. I know I'm not alone at this, it's so common so if this is resonating know you aren't alone either.
If you want to break this pattern in yourself awareness is key. Being curious about it and investigating into why you do it.
Why do you put things on the long finger? Or why do you come up with a million reasons not to do something? What is it that’s stopping you from starting? What is it that's really holding you back?
For me there are three things, three main reasons why I'm so prone to procrastination. There's probably more but these three I believe are the biggest factors and I see them in my clients and friends also.
I have a need to time pressure. I thrive under pressure. Now I don’t mean high stress or crippling stay up all night kind of pressure but just a sense of urgency or a buzz of excitement to my work. I remember when I was in college I’d often leave essays and assignments to the last minute. I needed the pressure of the deadline to get it done, to get focused enough to start it and complete it. Recently I’ve learned that it’s part of my human design. If you’re into human design you’ll know what I’m talking about. And if not that’s okay, putting it simply I have a define root centre which means that I work well under pressure and deadlines suit me. So without a deadline to work towards I feel like I have loads of time and I don’t need to start yet. I have no motivation or inspiration to get moving with it because there’s nothing pressuring me.
Now when you work for yourself there is no one waiting for you to submit your project. There’s no one saying, if you don’t get this in by this time that’s it you lose. And when I am not managing my habit of procrastinating, I often get caught up in my day to day work for my clients. I find it so much easier to create a resource for a client, because I know it will help them with what ever they’re working on and they need it. But there are lots of other projects and work to be done for my business that only I am accountable for.
Another thing I’ve learned about me, that sparks this need to put things off, is perfectionism. So many of us are afflicted with this need to be perfect. It really is an affliction. Perfection does not exist. But even knowing this I still strive to do things well and often when I think about a project for my business the idea of not being able to get it perfect, stops me from starting at all. Perfectionism is really a fear of failure a fear, of not doing it right. Not only does perfectionism sometimes stop me from starting but it also makes me work on things for longer than I need to. Again remember I’m all about working less and earning more so that doesn’t really align with that!
Perfectionism leads me to and is related to the third thing that contributes to my procrastination. Imposter syndrome. Ah good old imposter syndrome. Feeling like a fraud. I have yet to meet someone, who in some shape or form hasn’t suffered with this in some way. Thinking that someone else would explain something better than you or knows more than you is such a common reason for not putting something out there. I see it all the time with my clients and I suffer with this too. It's a common reason but not a sound reason. Yes there are lots of experts out there who might know more or have more experience than you, but that doesn't mean that your take on things doesn't need to be heard.
There’s probably lots of other things that create this procrastination in me and in you but I think they are the biggest factors for me and the most common ones I see a lot with my clients.
If any of that sounds like you, then know that you are not alone. It’s a battle. But I’m battling it and working through it and you can too. Will it go away forever? Maybe not, but you can be better equipped to prevent it and deal with it when it does arise.
So I’m going to share with you a few things that have helped me overcome procrastination.
The first one is obvious enough! Setting yourself a deadline and stick to it! Giving yourself a short amount of time to work on something so you will get started and finished before getting distracted or bored. With an open ended project it's too easy to put it off or to spend too long working on the details trying to get it perfect. Give yourself a short amount of time to work on it and just get it done! Now the only thing about setting yourself a deadline is that there’s no one else to keep you accountable which brings me to the second thing.
Tell someone what you need to do and what the deadline is. They don’t need to do anything but expect you to send them something at a certain time. They don’t need to read it, listen to it or watch it they just need to be ready to ask you where is it if you don’t get it to them by the deadline. Having someone to keep you accountable might give you that focus you need to get going.
This is where you join forces with a peer or a friend who also needs to get some work done on something. Arrange a time and date for you both to hop on a zoom or video call together. Simply say hello and tell each other what you’re working on, then turn off the cameras and mics and just work in each others energy. Sometimes it’s easier to show up for someone else than for yourself. At the end of the allotted time, check in with each other to see how you got on. Did you finish what you intended to do? If not when are you going to finish it? Can you keep each other accountable to finish it?
So far they are all very practical things you can action right away and they will help you stay on track with whatever you are working on. But you can go a bit deeper with this. Procrastination is not a surface issue.
Get out your pen and journal and ask yourself some questions. Why are you putting this off? What’s holding you back? What are you scared of? If you were to do it and complete it what might happen? Maybe you might be rejected or judged. Maybe you’re worried it’s not good enough and you’d be embarrassed or ashamed. Maybe it turns out brilliant and suddenly all eyes are on you and you’re not ready for that yet? You might be found out that you’re a fraud? Journal on what if it all works out? What if you do a great job and people respond positively and you can handle anything that follows it? Write it out. Sometimes all we need to do is become aware of the real issue and that it’s enough. If you can see it you can heal it.
I love tapping I find it excellent for dealing with any form of anxiety or emotional upset. I also use it to raise my vibration and literally tap into a higher frequency so I can attract better things/experiences. Tapping is hugely useful for clearing old patterns. So you can tap on procrastination. Literally clearing procrastination at a cellular level. Check out tap with Brad Yates.
Working through procrastination with a professional is invaluable. Fresh eyes and ears, especially trained ones, will be able to shed a light and a perspective that could be completely unknown to you. I sometimes have to work through this exact issue with my clients when we are getting their business up and running. But of course there are coaches and healers out there who deal with this issue specifically. If this is something that is really prominent in your life and it's really getting you stuck then I would highly recommend seeking some coaching or healing work.
Before I sign off. I want you to know that going from being a procrastinator to an action taker doesn’t happen over night. And certainly for me it’s been a wavy wandering path more so than a straight line. I am still learning and uncovering new layers of this for myself.
So what does that mean? Well it means I’m not "fixed" yet. I’m not fully "healed". I can’t say that I don’t still put things off for fear that it won’t be perfect.
And yet, I am self employed. I work with multiple clients each week. I generate an income that allows me to have a pretty decent life. My income is growing in fact. And I’m doing all that without being fully healed.
If you are putting off setting up your business, or growing your business please don’t wait until you are healed or you’ve broken a pattern. Just like with your projects, you don’t need to be perfect to start. Whatever you are putting off. Just start. You can use some of the ideas I’ve laid out today but just know that your success does not depend on you transforming completely and becoming a new person. In fact that’s only going to happen along the way. You are going to grow and transform like never before. There's no doubt about that but it won’t be until you start.
I would like to invite you book in for a free dream builder session with me. It's a FREE 45 minutes 1:1 coaching session that will help you see how you can turn your dreams into a reality.
If the thing you’re putting off is starting your own business or getting a new aspect of your business up and running...then please do not put it off any longer. Allow me to support you. Book your FREE session and let’s get it started!