17 Dec 2012
By Mark Evans
When it comes to time management, most of us are our own worst enemies. And procrastination is most people’s worst problem when it comes to getting things done.
Much research has been done on why we procrastinate. But, bottom line, it’s often for emotional reasons related to our own self confidence, how we feel about the task at hand (we put off the hard stuff the most) and planning skills that underlie why we just don’t get down and do it.
Take heed: putting off tasks is a big problem for small business owners. With so much on your plate, it’s important to organize your time well and balance deadlines with immediate problems, as well as the difficult tasks of long-term planning, sales and marketing development, making big decisions about the business and tackling ongoing, annoying problems.
Without putting yourself through too much therapy on why you procrastinate, here are six tips to help you get motivated about the tasks at hand:
1. Think about it
Figure out which things you’re putting off (e.g. firing someone, talking to a difficult supplier) and analyze why. Usually, we avoid challenging or difficult tasks. But taking a moment to ponder these difficult tasks can to demystify them. Yes, it will be hard to let someone go, but if you don’t, that person will continue to be drain on your company. Plus, you’re depriving that person of the knowledge of what’s going to happen to them. That supplier? Yes, the person might yell or be difficult, but maybe it’s the worst thing that can happen.
Set out your tasks for every day, every week and every month in detail. Get yourself on the most difficult, easy-to-put-off jobs early in the day, or whenever you know you’re the freshest to tackle them. Give yourself one onerous task per day and schedule the easy stuff for late in the day when you’re tired and up for fewer challenges.
3. Clear the path
Make sure you have the tools to do your tasks. Shut off your email, work at home, get your computer fixed — whatever you need to do to be sure you have the tools and space to work through your projects.
4. Be accountable
Use your staff, spouse, social media or a to-do list with check marks to confirm whether the tasks have been completed or not. Make it painful in some way if you don’t tackle that list.
5. Reward yourself
Build in rewards along your accountability path. Use whatever motivates you: a staff party, lunch out, an afternoon off to play golf or see a movie. Reward yourself even for small tasks.
6. Be positive
Thinking too much about how you “never get things done” is just going to drag you down. Embrace a positive attitude about how you can master your time management skills, get the trickiest of tasks underway and be better at your business. Believing in your ability to master your time will likely go the farthest in helping you get over this stumbling block and get on with your work.