Every day when I get up, I make coffee. And after I've had a few sips, I look at my to-do list. Then I take a few more sips of coffee and look at my list again. It's pretty overwhelming on a good day and honestly borderline terrifying on a bad day.
But it's there for a reason. Obviously, in business, your to-do list is money. But it's also your reputation. It's what your clients expect you to do – what you've promised you'd do.
So why, then, is it so hard to check things off? Why is it so easy to procrastinate? Because some tasks are easier than others; more fun than others; more appealing, for any number of reasons, than others, and the ones that are more appealing get done first – because that's human nature – and you can then pat yourself on the back and say "look at all the little things I got done today," while deep down inside your're not happy with yourself because you still procrastinated by not starting the big scary project that's been bouncing around your list all week...
I do that. We all do. And there's a word for it: "avoidance."
Avoidance isn't healthy in any relationship, including business. It leaves too many things undone, unsaid, unresolved. And in my world of running my own agency single-handedly, avoiding any issue must mean one thing: I'm scared to do it.
"I'm scared to do it." Those are words I don't believe apply to me in the slightest. Now, don't get me wrong - I'm not trying to be an egomaniac here. I screw things up. I've had to eat crow (and budgets.) But entertaining a line of thinking that I can't do something because I'm afraid of it serves no purpose. It means I must think I'm not good enough, talented enough, or creative enough to do it. And the more we tell ourselves, either literally or figuratively through our own avoidance, that "we're not good enough" - sooner or later, your mind starts to believe it. Nip that behaviour in the bud. It's bull.I've recently taken my own advice to heart and started forcing myself to procrastinate my own procrastination. I'll put off the time wasting, the social media, the office chit chat, and the "well, that's an easier task so I'll start with that one" until I've done at least one of the major items on my list for the day. And guess what I've learned: Not only am I getting things done, I'm getting them done with a sense of honest accomplishment with results that I can be proud of.
And now when I get through my "big tough list" and can focus on the little things, I'm finding I can fly through those to move on, with excitement and renewed creativity, to the next big thing on my list. Getting through my workload has started to become something I look forward to now because rather than seeing it as an unending list of "to-do's," it's become a list of all the ways I get to be creative today. And all the ways I get to learn, one to-do item at a time, just what I'm capable of. And that makes me want to push even harder.
So if you're struggling with procrastinating the things on your own to-do list (and have a Mac), I'd recommend checking out a snazzy little app called Things 2, from the smart people at Cultured Code . I use it every day to manage my tasks. It syncs my desktop, my iPhone, and my iPad flawlessly and has a really small learning curve. And most importantly, it's forgiving and doesn't nag.
You should also check out these 7 "Not so Obvious" Habits to Maximize your Productivity from the wizards at lefthack.org. A few weeks following these guidelines and you'll find you're not only getting more done, you're also finding time to reward yourself for all of your hard work.
So put off that procrastination. It's worth it.