When you work for yourself motivation is hard, you find yourself doing everything except for what needs to be done. Watching YouTube, Netflix and of course, scrolling endlessly through instagram and wondering why your life and your food doesn’t look as good as everyone else’s.
Over the past year I’ve built three business’ which are sustaining my lifestyle and allowed me to work from anywhere, travel the world and instead of living in cloudy rainy Ireland, I’ve taken my laptop and phone and now live in an epic house in Mexico. However the key for me is not the location or the money, it’s the freedom and happiness. I’m in control of my time, my day and most importantly my life.
All that being said, there’s one thing which I’ve struggled with and that thing is of course Procrastination. Given I’ve spent three hours before writing this piece of content watching YouTube videos of “how to not procrastinate”, I’ve come to appreciate that I’m not alone. It seems that in the modern age of digital accessibility to content, which ironically I am currently contributing too, there are endless things that you can do before getting to your work.
Now there are many tips that you can give someone to help skew this in the right direction, however by far the best way to stop this happening is to look at what is causing you to procrastinate in the first place and start killing that, then using some of the tips I will provide here to get you past it.
So we should start with the source of the problem, why are you procrastinating and what is stopping you from being productive. I’ve found three things that contribute to your lack of productivity and cause you to procrastinate which, being honest, are all pretty obvious as soon as you see them. Usually the most difficult things to achieve in life are the ones that are the most obvious, hence being known as “common mistakes”, “common misconceptions” and so on.
Why do you need to work on this?
The most obvious reason why you aren’t putting your all into something comes from the lack of motivation for, as Simon Sinek would call it, “Your Why”. It is possible that you also haven’t even got a reason in your head as to why you want to work on something at all. So to begin with, take out a piece of paper and write down the following questions and then answer them.
- Why do I want to achieve this work/goal?
- Who/What am I really doing this for? Myself, Client, Loved One, etc.
- What is the outcome of this work and how will it benefit me directly?
Is this part of a larger plan?
Generally speaking when you hit this stage where you just don’t want to work it’s because of 1c above, you can’t see the endgame or outcome of what your working on. Maybe you started out trying to create an incredible YouTube channel, but this video 3 of your 10 videos about “WHY AM I PROCRASTINATING” series just isn’t interesting you. If that’s the case, either skip video 3 and come back to it, or if in your case that just isn’t possible, remind yourself of the end goal. Video 10 in this case.
What part of this is stressing me out and causing me to switch off?I’ve found that the more stressful the work is or the more pressure there is with a deadline, the easier it is to find anything else to do. So identify those stress points, why is it getting to you, is the deadline achievable and break the task down into its smallest points. This will help your mind focus on the reasons for you not wanting to get it done and begin to move past those reasons.
Hopefully by going through these three questions, you will identify what part of the work is causing your mind to shy away from it and switch off so that you can use one of the tips below to power through and just get the damn thing done.
The TipsThe following are some of the ways I battle this problem and hopefully one or some of these will help you to do the same.
- Just get started dammit!
It sounds ridiculous and counter intuitive, however it also makes the most sense. If you can’t focus and be productive the best thing to do is just challenge yourself to put those gym shoes on or write that first sentence. The simple act of just doing something towards the goal will help you get into a focus.
- Try to stick it out for the next 20 mins
To get into a flow state of getting something done usually takes about 20 minutes of concentrated work, so just start whatever it is you are trying to achieve and try go hard at it for 20 mins. If you can do this, it will become incredible natural and easy, you could say it will flow…
- Plan and Track your work
One hindrance to getting work done can be knowing the starting and ending point. This helps you to put realistic deadlines and plans in place. In my case I find that the tasks in my head can seem impossible so doing this can really put the task in perspective and give you the motivation to just check it off. I suggest Habitica and Google Calendar for this.
- Journaling (I know…seriously…I know)
I really hated this idea when I started but I had a misunderstanding of how to use it correctly as a tool to make my life easier. When most people think of journaling they hear “Dear Diary”, this is not what I mean. Start with a blank page and write these items down first thing in the morning.
- 3 Things you want to achieve today
- How these 3 things would make you feel to achieve
- How you would feel if you don’t achieve these.
I hope this gave you a good insight into the things you can do to remove procrastination eventually and become a more productive person.