I used to be a procrastination master. All through my life, I had managed to do no more than I had to do and I would always end up doing it in the last second before a deadline, stressing about whether I’d make it or not.
When I started freelancing this behavior almost got the end of me. I would literarily spend +80 hours doing the work for 30 hours in my first 6-7 months of freelancing and that caused so much stress.
I kept asking myself:
“How come you’re so lazy!”
“Why can’t you just get it done and be awesome like everyone around you? You know you’re smart enough.”
“What is wrong with you? Why are you not motivated to do the things you need to do?”
I needed to change my life around to get my sanity back and start living again so I started reading all the books and articles on the subject of procrastination that I could find and by practicing the different methods they all recommended, I actually started seeing progress.
What I found out was that it wasn’t me that was broken, but my system. I started implementing a new system and tweaking it over and over until I was finally able to beat procrastination and get things done.
Do you know what the best part of it was? I felt freaking good about myself and my accomplishments for the first time in a very long time.
Today, I’ll share whit you what I learned about beating procrastination. I’ll give you the key techniques and mindsets you need to incorporate to beat procrastination and become a master at getting things done.
Set your mindset straight
The way you think of yourself dictates how you will feel about yourself. Continually smashing yourself with thoughts like “What’s wrong with you! Why are you so lazy” will do you no good and only empower your laziness.
You need to start changing your mindset around and luckily for you, I have 3 techniques to do exactly this.
1 – The reverse thinking technique
When you’re having negative thoughts like “You’re so lazy” you’re basically programming your mind to believe this about yourself. Luckily this goes the other way as well, which is why you will often hear self-love coaches have their clients do things like “Look in the mirror every morning and tell yourself you’re beautiful”. Done enough times and you will slowly start believing it.
You need to change your negative thought patterns into positive ones. Try for example to think “I just haven’t found a system that works yet” or “I’m human. It’s normal and okay to be challenged. I just need to find a way around this issue” when you’re bashing yourself for being lazy.
2 – The bracelet technique
This technique is simple and can be performed with either a watch or a bracelet. This is what you’ll have to do:
Every time you think something bad about yourself you take off your watch/bracelet and switch it over to the opposite arm.
It’s so annoying and it will very quickly make you aware of how often you trash talk yourself. As you know, being aware of your problems is the first step to fixing them. Every time you are aware of your negative thoughts, switch arm and try to make a positive alternative that empowers you.
3 – The family technique
This is a fantastic way of putting your thoughts into a perspective. Every time you think badly about yourself, try to imagine that you were to say your thoughts to your little sister, brother or one you hold very near.
How would your little sister react if you constantly told her “You’re so lazy! What’s wrong with you?”
First of all, she would most likely be pissed off. Then she would start doubting herself thinking “Am I really lazy?” and before you know it she will start acting like a lazy person, hating herself and you more than before.
So here’s the rule. If you wouldn’t say what you’re thinking about yourself to your sister/brother then you shouldn’t think this about yourself.
Prioritise and focus like a sharpshooter in combat
Imagine for a second that you’re a sharpshooter (sniper) in the US Marines. You’re currently engaging in a firefight with a lot of enemies storming at you and your teammates. You are secure as you are hidden on top of a roof, but your teammates aren’t that fortunate. They count on you to keep them alive.
In front of you, you have 10 enemies storming towards your comrades. Some of them have knives, some assault rifles, and another one has a suicide bomb.
300 yards behind them a group of 10 more enemies with the same equipment is approaching.
You don’t have time to engage them all.
Who would you engage first and why?
Let’s look at the snipers options:
- He could engage the attackers randomly. He might get lucky and save his teammates, but who knows?
- He could attack the closest enemy but would that change the outcome?
- He could engage the most dangerous enemies first (the suicide bombers, followed by the attackers carrying assault rifles – This would result in his teammates getting attacked with knives, which they most likely would be able to survive.
Why am I making you picture and think about a fictive attack? Because you need to be just as brutal in prioritizing and focusing as that sniper on the roof.
You are a one-man army, trying to run a business and create an income great enough to support yourself. How should you ever be able to follow all the advice on what other people think you should be doing. There’s just no way to keep up.
By just taking a quick scroll through my twitter feed I stumbled upon no less than 13 articles with “23 ways you could use Instagram to get more customers”, “52 things all businesses should do on social media” and so on… I simply don’t have enough hours in the day to pursue and examine all of these possibilities and you don’t either.
This is what every successful freelancer is brilliantly at. Focusing on the single most important thing and ignoring everything else.
The question then is, how do you determine the most important thing you could be doing?
Ask yourself this: “What can I do that’ll have the biggest impact on my business?”.
Example: If you’re not earning enough income you should be focusing on getting more clients and doing more work for these clients and NOT build a website, a facebook page and be active on all social media sites…
Freelancers, in particular, should in most cases only focus on:
- Getting new clients.
- Creating big value for these clients.
And both of these can be done without all the extra things like building an email list, doing social media outreach, writing a company blog, create and run Facebook ads etc.
Focus on the need-to-do until you earn enough to tackle the should-do.
That’s what separates successful freelancers from the ones that are barely hanging on.
If you want to be productive, be successful and beat procrastination then stop trying to do everything and focus on the one or two thing that has the biggest impact on your business.
Break it down until it’s doable
Feeling overwhelmed and paralyzed are the reasons behind procrastination. You just learned how to deal with the overwhelm of all the things you could be doing by using a laser-sharp focus. Now we’ll be focusing on creating a system that will help you get things done.
Imagine this for a moment:
A client hires you to create a landing page for his new product launch. You’ll need to set up the page, do research and write all text within the sales copy.
This is no problem cause you’ve done this before and you have the required skill and knowledge to deliver a high converting landing page.
But even though you feel at home, there’s so much going on that you can’t really figure out where to start. You’re just staring at a blank page unable to get started…
This happens to so many people and I’ve experienced it hundreds of times. But I’ve found a solution to beating this every time.
We just need to break it up into super small action steps.
Let me give you an example of how I would break this imagined assignment down:
- Write down the info you have on the product you’ll be selling.
- Write down 5 of the special features that this product has to offer.
- Find one friend that would be interested in this product.
- Ask this friend how he/she would benefit from having this product and take notes on what they’re saying.
- Write 3 benefits the customers will get from buying this product using your friend’s way of speaking about this problem/solution.
- Write a quick outline of the sales letter. (Introduction, Main part, Benefits, Client testimonials, Product feature, price etc.)
- Fill in the outline with the information you’ve gathered so far.
- Write a simple outcast for the sales letter.
- Go over the rough outcast and make all the needed edits.
- Show it to your friend from earlier to get his/her opinion and make adjustments if needed.
- Send it to the client for approval
By breaking the initial task down into small action steps it’s not really that daunting anymore and it’s easier to take action. You just need to take it one step at a time and before you know it you’ll have finished this entire assignment.
If you start implementing these techniques and mindsets I promise you that you’ll see a dramatic increase in productivity and decrease in procrastination within just a few days. It’s incredible what we are actually able to do when we get the right systems in place.
So please try it out for a week and get back to me in the comment section telling me how you been doing.