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3 Simple Ways To Avoid Procrastination
Author: Debbie May
Monday, September 18, 2017

After what I hope was a relaxing and fun summer, it’s time for you to get back into full gear and ready for the busy months ahead. In my experience as a business coach, I know that bouncing back from a vacation or a slowdown is rarely easy for business owners. For many, the laundry list of tasks becomes overwhelming and stressful, and the tendency to procrastinate kicks in. 

Sadly, many entrepreneurs feel flawed or refer to themselves as lazy when this happens, but procrastination is not a character flaw—it’s a stress response. The first step to recovery is to understand that procrastination is not a reaction on your attitude, work ethic, or competence. It’s a perfectly natural and normal response to life’s stress.

With a deluge of upcoming orders to fill, you know that soaps need time to cure. Orders must be placed early
to avoid long waits and the risk of suppliers running out (watch for our early-order reminders). Brand updates and packaging designs don’t make themselves happen. It can be exhausting just thinking about it all! That’s the problem: thinking about it only exasperates the craziness. Jumbled thoughts lead to stress which causes the amygdala (the part of the brain that sends out the call for adrenalin production) to jump in to save the day. Only it doesn’t, because adrenalin only spikes the stress.

So, what can we do about procrastination? The answer is so simple that people dismiss it, but simple does not mean easy. Nike’s iconic tagline says it best: “Just Do It.”

Stop the eye-role! Neuroscience backs this up. There is a part of the brain called the prefrontal cortex that prompts us to speed up, follow our gut instinct you might say, when we need to act. For instance, if your child is too close to the street as a speeding car is barreling near, you wouldn’t even think about reacting, you’d just do it. But guess what? The prefrontal cortex takes a back seat to stress. When you’re in procrastination mode you need to reactivate this part of the prefrontal cortex to break the cycle. This is where “Just Do It” comes in. 

Get organized
When you’re drowning in thoughts about all you must do, stress kicks in. Get these thoughts out of your head and onto paper, or in digital form if you prefer. I keep two to-do lists and they work wonderfully. One is what I call my master list, the other my ten minutes or less list. The benefit of the ten-minutes or less list is that it eliminates the time consuming and frustrating process of deciding what to do next when you have only five or ten minutes to ll. Otherwise, by the time you figure it out your ten minutes is gone, it’s stressful!

Prioritize your master list each day and then transfer those ten- minute or less tasks to a small list. Then, devote large chunks of uninterrupted time to the other priorities. This will keep the stress at bay and lower the risk of procrastination kicking in. 


Make a split decision
A fast decision is contrary to the stress response and doesn’t give your amygdala the chance to send out a stress message. Instead of getting into a mental battle with yourself, act within ve seconds and commit to five minutes at the very least to begin the task.

In her book, The 5 Second Rule, Mel Robbins calls this a decision of courage. Since what we are avoiding isn’t the task, but rather the stress that we are associating with the task, use your courage to make that dreaded phone call, or whatever it is that you might push off for later. The five seconds is critical in both triggering the fast acting part of your brain, as well as limiting the influence of the slow acting part of your brain. So, don’t stretch it out-- decide and act, not decide and think. 

Celebrate your wins
Entrepreneurs are notorious for dismissing their achievements. It’s difficult to react when so many projects and deadlines loom over you. Again, this stimulates the stress response, so it’s important to acknowledge your accomplishments.

If not daily, then weekly time spent reviewing what you’ve completed is rewarding, and it will combat the feeling that you can’t get ahead. I alway scross off the tasks as I do them because it gives me a visual of my achievement, which I find very satisfying. I’ll go so far as to add the little things that didn’t make it to my list originally, just so I have more to cross off!

Procrastination has an irrational hold on those who engage regularly. The good news is that with consistency and persistence you can break free of it and find success in your small business! 
 



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