You’ve read countless roundup posts and expert advice on how to be more productive and get the most out of your day. Some tips sound great while others made you recoil with a resounding "nope!" But despite all that reading, you still can’t kick your procrastination habit.
Stop beating yourself up or feeling guilty. Procrastinating is more beneficial than you might think - even the most successful entrepreneurs are prone to procrastinating sometimes.
In fact, Pies Steel, a human resources (HR) professor at the University of Calgary’s Haskane School of Business, found that 95 percent of the population procrastinates at times, and one out of every five people are chronic procrastinators.
If you haven’t overcome this habit yet, here's how you can use procrastination to fuel your startup’s growth.
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1. Leverage the energy boost.
Our energy is a finite resource, and every task eats up a little bit of those reserves throughout the day. It’s not uncommon to fall into procrastination mode when you’re faced with tasks that seem time-intensive, tedious, difficult or low on your interest scale.
When your energy levels drop, your desire to complete a task also decreases.
But if you procrastinate long enough, you’ll find yourself up against fast-approaching deadlines. Looming deadlines can generate negative feelings of fear, stress and anxiety, but deadlines also trigger positive changes like adrenaline rushes. Even on an empty tank, fear combined with an adrenaline surge provides an energy boost to help you get the job done.
2. Get laser-focused.
When you’ve procrastinated to the point where a deadline is right around the corner, contracts need to be completed, reports are due, and decisions need to be made, the only thought in your mind should be how to get everything done.
Even for chronic procrastinators, it’s difficult to ignore work when there are dire consequences for not completing your tasks on time. You’re less likely to get distracted or delay your work because you’re laser-focused on the task at hand. Waiting until the absolute last minute to accomplish something will force you to focus by temporarily shutting down social interaction, electronics and email.
3. Delegate and prioritize.
As an entrepreneur, your day is probably full of things you don’t want to deal with at the moment - from minor tasks to massive projects. Being a procrastinator can help you streamline your daily workload by focusing on the tasks that both pique your interest and have more urgent deadlines.
Look at day-to-day tasks that you tend to avoid, and ask yourself if any of them can be delegated to someone else. This is a good opportunity to hand over your tedious tasks to a virtual assistant (VA) so the time you do have can be used for more important matters that only you are capable of accomplishing.
4. Get it done faster.
Few things can make you rush toward the finish line, like realizing you’re behind schedule. With less time available to get the job done and the viability of your startup on the line, you’re going to put in maximum effort to finish the race. The benefit here is that you learn just how quickly some tasks take to complete once you finally give it your all.
This realization can reduce the “blah” feeling when a similar task comes up in the future. Since you’ve established a baseline for how long it’ll take to get done, it’ll be much easier to complete projects on a deadline in the future.
Related: 11 Ways to Beat Procrastination
5. Give yourself time to analyze.
Timeliness in decision-making and tackling projects is typically a good thing in business. Relationships and changes in strategy, growth and arrangements with partners and other vendors tend to go well when things are handled efficiently.
On the other hand, procrastination gives you more time to consider the costs and benefits of decisions you must make. Instead of making a quick decision, you can mull it over and ensure you’re about to make the right choice. This is especially useful if new information is uncovered during the delay that can sway a decision based on facts and research.
Related: 5 Ways to Battle Procrastination
6. Get a better work-life balance.
As a hardworking startup leader, a little procrastination can go a long way in keeping you healthy. I’m not suggesting that every day should be a play day. Rather, you need to know that even with projects due and deadlines approaching, it’s ok to occasionally take a break from the grind, and pursue other things.
Putting off a task to exercise, take a walk or a nap, spend time with family, or participate in other self-improvement activities can have a positive impact on your physical and mental health.
When you’re healthier, you’ll have more energy and a better mindset for tackling projects when it’s time to get back to work.
Your skills, abilities and characteristics brought you to where you are now. That includes your tendency to procrastinate. Rather than trying to change who you are in the midst of growing a new business, find ways to use procrastination to your advantage, and discover new ways to use your unique character traits for the benefit of your startup.