On today’s episode I am talking through my embarrassing business secret: procrastination. It’s my biggest struggle in my business and the thing I hate the most about my business self. I feel like it makes me look lazy or unreliable.
I’m a big fan of time tracking, and time tracking has showed me that I don’t get a lot done on most Fridays unless I have a meeting scheduled or a deadline. But, because I have every intention of doing some work on Fridays and then it doesn’t happen, I end up doing it on Sunday. And I hate that feeling of the work hanging over my head on Sunday.
Here are some reasons why we procrastinate:
1. Fear of failure
I don’t think this is behind my procrastination most of the time. But is it behind yours? We put off things we don’t know how to start or we don’t feel good enough to work on. When you are afraid of failure, you are often overgeneralizing things about yourself or being too hard on yourself. But remember: Your client would not have hired you if you didn’t have some skills.
It can be helpful to give yourself a pep talk: Remind yourself of projects you’ve done similarly that you have succeeded in. In episode 102 of Deliberate Freelancer, guest Sarah Townsend recommended, as her Biz Bite, keeping a Boost Bank, which is when you take a screenshot of all the compliments, good reviews and positive testimonials you have received and then put them all in one photo folder on your phone to look at now on again.
2. Not interested in the task
Are you procrastinating simply because you don’t want to do that task? We have all probably experienced this at some point. When this is an issue, I like the idea of “eat the frog,” which means doing the thing you don’t want to do. Just do it first thing at the start of your work day and get it over with. Or, batch several “eat the frog” tasks and do them all at once. It feels so great when you get those annoying things off your to-do list and can quit thinking about them.
3. ADHD or depression
Procrastination can also be a sign of having ADHD or depression. This is when it might be time to see a doctor or therapist.
None of these are reasons for my procrastination right now. I think I just have a lack of motivation. I should listen to my own podcast! Back in episode #31, I talked about how to work when you’re feeling blah.
This could be a big neon sign that I need to start taking my afternoon walks again and/or meditate in the morning. I may also need to see my acupuncturist.
One thing I did recently is take a hard look at my schedule and how and when I work. I tried to really think outside the box about what I could be doing differently that would be better for me.
Two good things I’m already doing: I take advantage of morning peak productivity time and I don’t schedule meetings or anything else on Mondays.
But, I had a little debate with myself about whether I should just accept working on Sundays and stop treating it as a Sunday or refuse to work Sundays. I am also debating whether to work half-days on Fridays.
The problem with Fridays is two-fold: I’m lying to myself that I can do things on Friday when I know full-well that by Friday afternoon I’m brain dead and I get very little done. The other problem is that I sit at my desk Friday afternoon and fritter the time away when I should just back away from my desk.
But what if I really worked on switching my mindset? I could declare to myself that I will not work Friday afternoons and I will not work on the weekends. This just needs to be a new mindset shift. And a lot of mindset is how you talk to yourself. What is your self-talk?
Right now, I’ve been telling myself that I do work Fridays and worse, “well, I always have Sunday to catch up.” I hate that feeling, it’s not helpful, and I need to stop.
I also think that a two-day break might be just the thing I need to refresh me and help me not procrastinate during the week. (That person who invented weekends might be on to something!) Maybe working on Sunday is bumming me out, which leads to me procrastinating from lack of motivation during the week—which then causes me to have to work on Sundays! A perpetual cycle. Mind blown.
Before this revelation, I asked some freelancer friends on social media what I should do about procrastination, and I got a lot of good ideas to try out. Here are a few:
- Rethink your entire schedule and set new office hours that fit you better.
- Block your time and batch tasks—do like-minded tasks at the same time. Or, even create solid days of a certain task, like Tuesday is reserved for writing and never meetings.
- Try Caveday.org, an online accountability Zoom call with strangers.
- Create strict boundaries that you know will keep you on task, like going to a coffee shop. (I always focus better when I put on my noise-canceling headphones—even with no music!)
- Accountability partners.
Biz Bite: Put Times with Your To-Do List
The Bookshelf: “Malibu Rising” by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Subscribe to the Deliberate Freelancer newsletter.
Episode #102 of Deliberate Freelancer: Freelancer Survival Skills + a Pep Talk about Boundaries, with Sarah Townsend (talking about a Boost Bank as the Biz Bite)
Episode #31 of Deliberate Freelancer: How to Get Motivated to Work When You’re Feeling Blah
Episode #103 of Deliberate Freelancer: My Time Tracking and Client Analysis for Q2
Episode #52 of Deliberate Freelancer: Embracing Self-Care without Guilt, with Acupuncturist Rachel Brumberger