Ideas: Tackle your procrastination habits head on

TEDCO Business Support offers their top tips on avoiding procrastination to be more productive

Procrastination is an evil beast. It’s the thing that stops you getting out of bed, that leaves you scrolling through your phone for an hour, that makes you peruse social media at your desk instead of getting work done.

We all fall victim to procrastination from time to time. But it is how we handle those lulls in concentration – particularly as business owners – that makes the difference between an enterprise that is treading water and one that is maximising its growth potential.

One way many of us have tried to tackle it is by getting into the habit of writing to-do lists. These lists can be extremely useful, but even these sometimes just aren’t enough. So what can you do to make sure you follow through your to-do list to the end? TEDCO has the answers.

Write it the night before
It’s the funny scenario that we’ve all been guilty of: spending your morning writing a to-do list and thinking that you’ve done your daily duties. To avoid this cop out, get into the habit of writing down the next day’s tasks the night before (or at least at the end of the previous working day). That way, you can crack on with them straight away come morning.

With a pre-prepared to-do list, you can start your work earlier, fitting more into your day and maybe even getting finished earlier than you would have. This way, you can also capitalize on that morning energy, and go easier on yourself during your afternoon slump.

Incorporate dates and times into your list
There are some tasks you’ll need to complete by a certain time, such as projects, reports, or paying off finances. These tasks are often the most pressing, which means you’re most likely to get them done quickly.

However, other jobs like ‘organise desk’ or ‘copy out notes’ don’t come with their own deadline. This puts them at risk of becoming roll-over tasks, and being pushed to tomorrow’s list.

The answer is simple: make your own deadlines. For each task on your to-do list, add a point by which you want it to be completed. Depending on how big a task it is, this could either be a time or a date.

Set yourself achievable tasks
Filling your to-do list with huge, overly-ambitious jobs isn’t more likely to get you working harder. In fact, it’ll probably have the opposite effect and make you give up altogether.

The trick is not to confuse tasks with goals you want to achieve: obtaining five new clients is a goal, whereas getting in touch with people, creating presentations, and tidying up a company website are all achievable tasks which can help make this happen.

Break down big tasks
Leading on from these achievable tasks, you can always use your to-do list to break down bigger jobs into smaller ones, making everything seem more possible. This has the twin perks of making you more likely to complete tasks by making them easier to do, and making you feel more productive by giving you more things to tick off your list for the same amount of work.

Something like ‘Finish Report’ is a vague task which may require a lot of work. Breaking this down into things like ‘Research Client’, ‘Plan Report’, ‘Choose Subheadings’ and ‘Finish First Draft’ gives you a more attainable set of goals.

Eat your vegetables first
There is often one task on a to-do list that worries you more than others, and is taking up more of your time. This dread can even lead to you putting off the whole list for another day. It’s always best to tackle your most dreaded task first. This will get it out the way and give you a sense of achievement early in the day.

Don’t forget to break down this task if it helps, and set yourself a specific deadline to work towards.

Ready to get your new business moving in the right direction? Whether you’ve got an idea or have been trading for a few months, the TEDCO team are on hand to help. Drop an email to find out more