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But I Don’t Wanna

pouting child

Do you ever feel this way? You know what you ought to be doing but you just don’t want to. It’s pretty commonplace and a prime trigger for procrastination. Psychologists call it “task aversion.” Basically we take a task like reminding a customer that the latest invoice hasn’t been paid or completing an administrative task and we just avoid doing it. If we stopped to look at it rationally, we’d know that we’re acting  like a pouting child. But…we don’t look at it rationally. We perceive that it will be just too painful to deal with.

Perception is an amazing thing! Sometimes it is spot on and we get a good read on the dynamics of a situation. However, other times, it just messes with our heads.

It’s about perceived pain. It doesn’t matter if you are a new small business owner or a well-established one, there’s something you’re avoiding. The actual task is probably unpleasant in some way. It could have some sort of conflict like speaking to the customer who hasn’t paid. Maybe it’s just boring such as filing. Or you feel inadequate in your copywriting skills so you put off updating your website. There are things in our small businesses that aren’t pleasant and we do have to do them.

Do you take the bull by the horns and just do the task you’re avoiding? Self discipline is a necessity for the successful small business owner. It would be nice to just say to yourself, “All right, enough dilly dallying, get to work!” and be done with the task. Many of my clients have noted that whatever they had been putting off turned out to be no big deal (I’m guilty of this too.) But what if you just can’t muster up the gumption to do the strategic planning or the bill paying or whatever it is that is so “horrible”?

Here are five ideas:

  • Set a date and time to work on the task. Put it in your calendar and treat it like you would any other appointment. Maybe you’ll drag yourself kicking and screaming to the task but now you’re committed to action.
  • Use an alarm. It’s easier to accomplish something if you reduce it to stages. Set 20-30 minutes to work on the task. When the alarm goes off, your time is up and you are free to go do something more pleasant.
  • Write down why this task is so terrible and painful. Understanding what you’re thinking and feeling is remarkable. Maybe the task reminds you of something negative from your childhood or another personal relationship. Maybe you’re overcommitted and this task is the proverbial straw that will break the camel’s back. Maybe it’s just some kind of story that you’ve made up about how you’re completely inadequate and will surely fail. The important piece here is to get the story so you know why you’re avoiding the task.
  • Get an accountability partner. Find someone who is willing to check in with you to see if you completed the task. This person can be a colleague, mentor, or a coach. You can even do this with a mastermind group. Sometimes you have to arrange an external reason to complete a task. Generally people don’t want to lose face with anyone they respect. Use this to your advantage.
  • Choose to not do the task. Seriously! This may seem counterintuitive in some way. Stop nagging yourself (it’s not working anyway) and let go of the pressure. If you can live with the consequences, then consciously choose to let the task go undone.

Procrastination makes us feel negatively about ourselves. Trying to make yourself do something you don’t wanna do is a no win situation. There’s not much point in acting like a child having a big sulk. We’ve got enough responsibilities as we run our small businesses.

Try a different way.

What task are you avoiding?

What is your perception about this task?

How do you get yourself into action when you’d rather do anything else?


Flies In the Vaseline

“Flies in the vasoline we are

Sometimes it blows my mind

Keep getting stuck here all the time”

                                          –Vasoline, Stone Temple Pilots

On the face of it, it seems crazy that we get ourselves stuck over and over even when the consequences have been painful. But for people who procrastinate, their bad habits are like being stuc"Fly in the vasoline"?k in vaseline. Imagine trying to move through goo that won’t let go and you can’t get a grip on anything when you fall. It can feel like that when you are constantly late (or rushed at the last minute), trying to manage an overfull email in-box, or you  can’t find that piece of information that you put in a “safe place.” It’s tough to run a small business when you are scattered and stressed!

We all know what we’re doing when someone else points it out to us. Maybe they’re trying to be helpful and guide you to manage your time better. Or maybe it’s someone who depends on you for a work-related task and they are aggravated by your behavior. Even when we hear experts or gurus reminding us to use this tool or that strategy to get organized, it’s all right there. Sure , you can use an excuse that sounds like a plausible but you know inside what is really true. This is generally not a good feeling.

So, what can you do about it? First of all, do you want to change your procrastination habits? I know that sounds like a weird question but I’ve noticed that people generally don’t change behavior unless it is absolutely necessary to them. You might make an effort to be more on time for work  because they’ve warned you. The real change comes when you want to stop your bad habits.

Stop for a moment and think…how many times have you:

  • Bought the supplies for an organizational system, maybe used them for a while, and then it petered out?
  • Set your alarm clock with the full intention of getting up without using the snooze button?
  • Gotten yourself so upset with traffic because you didn’t acount for it being slow every morning?
  • Moved a piece of mail from one pile to another because the second pile was the one you’d “really” get to?

There are other situations along the same vein and you probably can think of a few of your own. Is this the way it was always be? Not necessarily. It’s all about permission. I mean, I could give you tips on stress management or even suggest personal organizers but neither will work until you give yourself permission to acknowledge your current system isn’t working. And permission to ask for help or use a resource that will give you better skills to handle feelings of overwhelm, distraction, and impulsiveness. And…permission to mess up as you practice new strategies that will reduce or even eliminate procrastination.

Be a fly in the vaseline or something else…it’s up to you!

What is most difficult about giving yourself permission to live and work differently?

 What would change in your small business if you stopped procrastinating?




Perception, Procrastination, and Leaving Your Comfort Zone

Given all the triggers that cause procrastination, leaving your comfort zone has got to be at the top of the list! Danny Brown (@dannybrown) got me tProcrastination and your comfort zonehinking about this when he replied to my comment on his blog post, Leaving Your Comfort Zone. In his post, he used Alex Wong (a ballet dancer competing on the television show, So You Think You Can Dance) who absolutely rules when he does a hiphop routine. I’d say hiphop is about as far from ballet as you can go! Definitely beyond the comfort zone!

I’ll admit that I oversimplified things when I left my comment.

Sure Alex Wong is a ballet dancer but he is a dancer. He knows how to move his body so it’s a stretch that becomes possible. The thing with getting out of our comfort zone is we make it seem so foreign. Many of our stretches simply take our current skills and apply them in a different environment or with different methods. As Alex Wong knows he can use his body to move to music, we can trust that we already know how to do what seems risky.

As a trained musician, I’ve certainly seen how other performers support or limit transferring their skills to something different because of perception. If I only play classical piano, then do I limit myself and say I’ll never play ragtime or rock because I think I can only play classical music?

So, what does this have to do with procrastination?

It’s about how we perceive what is outside of our comfort zone. We do make it seem so foreign. It doesn’t really matter if it’s a different kind of dance, music, or business strategy. When we reach a plateau with our small businesses and we don’t want to stay at that level, we know we must do something that is new to us. Consider this-just today, I was talking with a prospective client who is adding staff. She is completely daunted by the necessity of managing them so she has put off developing her system. The supervision and organization that comes with managing employees seems foreign to her even though she has had people working for her for a while now. She is already doing some of what she needs to do with her whole staff. Yet, she perceives that it is totally different than anything she has done before and there is a risk is she will do it wrong.

Procrastination is often tied to a lack of trust in ourselves. We don’t trust our skill set. We don’t trust that we can cope with the task. Leaving our comfort zone implies that there is risk involved and we won’t be the same afterwards. Maybe this is true, maybe not. It remains that we have the necessary abilities already waiting to be applied in a different way.

What are you avoiding in your small business?

What skills do you already have that are a bridge to beyond your comfort zone?

Which is more important-doing something perfectly or making the attempt?


How Procrastination Hurts Your Small Business

Procrastinating hurting your small business?

 Did you know that procrastination costs the U.S. economy $50 billion in lost productivity?

 According to Piers Steel of the University of Calgary, procrastination is more pervasive and costly now. Since it is more prevalent, he believes it has to do with the level of overwhelm and distractibility of our plugged-in lives.

 So it’s not my fear of success or failure that’s making me procrastinate? Well, sort of…according to Steel’s  meta-analysis of other research and the history of procrastination, your level of task aversiveness, waiting to do tasks, belief in your ability to perform, and impulsiveness has more to do with the degree that you procrastinate. Other things that affect how much you procrastinate is your level of conscientiousness, distractibility, organization, and desire to achieve.

So, why should I care about this research and what does it have to do with my small business? For starters, it isn’t about there being something wrong with you. You are wired a certain way. Part of what makes managing procrastination effective is knowing your limitations. One of my clients has attention-deficit disorder and this interferes with his performance. Part of our coaching focused on building in strategies to manage his high-level of distractibility which created disorganization. For example, he is not the type to put things in order  in a file cabinet where he can access the information when he wants it. Talk about task aversiveness! So, I asked him why he was trying to use a system that didn’t work. His solution was to use one of those shoe organizers you can hang on a wall. Each pocket has a label of his projects and he puts everything that relates into this pocket. He discovered he was more productive because the system fit his natural style. The other part of our coaching centers on his belief about whether or not he can build a viable small business.

Remember I said that your fear of success or failure sort of  makes you procrastinate? Your assessment of your skills and passion to develop a prosperous business can trigger these fears which may reinforce your opinion of your performance. Doubt certainly affects how you do things!  To effectively manage your procrastination, discover what is going on in your head. Our thoughts tend to follow certain patterns no matter where we are or what we are doing. If you put off your ironing because it takes a certain level of attention, are you just as likely to put off your bookkeeping for the same reason?

If the cost to the U.S. economy can measured in billions, what is procrastination costing your small business? *Upcoming teleseminar where you can learn more about procrastination and how to manage it better.

Later Isn’t Coming: 5 Strategies to Stop Procrastination Tired of last minute rushes to get things done? Wonder why you seem to lose things or forget where you put important files or contact information when you need them most? Stop the out of control to-do lists, the interruptions, and the feeling that something is wrong with you. Attend this teleseminar and learn 5 strategies to stop putting things off and accomplish what you are meant to do.

When:  Monday, November 2, 2009

Time:  7:00pm-8:30pm

Cost:  $39.00  For more information and to register, go to or call (781) 258-9952








How Scrambled Are You?

Golden EGGAre you an Entrepreneurial Go Getter and feeling scrambled by the economy and your responsibilities to your business? It is not unusual for entrepreneurs to feel scrambled by the different roles and tasks that are necessary to developing a business.  This is usually during the early days of a venture. So what happens when the scrambled feeling starts hitting overload? Entrepreneurs find themselves feeling very unfocused and this is when self-sabotage can happen. But this does not have to happen. I invite you to attend the How To Be an E.G.G. Sampling and see how you can use this program to get yourself back on track. During this teleseminar, you can begin to clarify your business vision, identify bad habits and limited beliefs that sabotage your performance, develop strategies to manage procrastination, performance anxiety, and the normal “ups and downs” of being an Entrepreneurial Go Getter. To learn more about the How To Be an E.G.G. program: When: Tuesday, January 13, 2009 Time:  12:00pm-1:00pm ET Format: Teleseminar Cost:  Free When you sign up, you will receive a bridgeline and a handout. Space is limited to encourage personalized attention and participation. To register or for more information, please go to

Why Do I Procrastinate Anyway?

I recently ran across this article and wanted to share it with you.  A lot of you have asked me about procrastination and how it affects your life and your business.

Research into procrastination shows surprising findings from A University of Calgary professor in the Haskayne School of Business has recently published his magnum opus on the subject of procrastination – and it’s only taken him 10 years. []

Enjoy, enlighten, yourself, and then tackle that to-do list!