Depending on your viewpoint, procrastination is either the best thing since sliced bread or the bane of your working life.
When your workload is manageable and your lead times realistic, a touch of procrastination harms nobody. But when the heat is on, procrastination needs dealing with.
The trouble is, the world (or at least the internet) is full of delightful ways to waste time. Online games, social media, football transfer rumours – they all target our productivity without mercy.
So how do you put off putting it off? We asked around to find out how self-employed people and small business owners deal with procrastination – and these are our five favourite coping strategies.
Make time for procrastination
Sounds weird, but by setting aside time to procrastinate, you’re separating it from working. Ergo, you’ll be able to concentrate on the task in hand, knowing you have a procrastination window ahead.
Get your displacement activity in first
In humans, displacement activity relates to almost anything you’d rather be doing than working. So, once you’ve made the coffee, tidied your workstation and dealt with your emails etc all in one hit, you’ll have fewer excuses for not getting stuck in.
Close your browser – shut down your email
If the nature of your work permits it, close down anything on your computer, tablet or mobile phone that could distract your attention. If you’re a real procrastinator, that ‘new email’ icon in your taskbar will give you no peace whatsoever. It’s a tough one this, because for many of us, our computers are both our workplace and our playground.
This was the most popular tactic among the procrastinators we spoke to. Force yourself to work single-mindedly for say, two hours, then give yourself a reward. Whether it’s a coffee break, a bike ride or reading two more chapters of your book, make it a real incentive – and one you can repeat throughout the day to help you get your work done.
Think of the money
The chances are you get paid after your work is done and your client is fully satisfied with it. This is can be a powerful motivator. Even if there’s no urgency at your client’s end, it’s always satisfying to get a job ‘out the door’ and ready to invoice. It may help to keep a spreadsheet tracking the jobs you’ve completed and their financial value to you. Watching the figures go up can really focus the mind on productivity.