So…I’m two days closer to my March 15 tax deadline, and I’d like to say that I didn’t share any of my awesome ideas about budgeting and balancing family, work and finances yesterday because I was powering through, but I wouldn’t telling you the truth if I did that.
I was pretty busy yesterday, but I definitely fell prey to one of the perils of owning a small business (and life): working as a way to procrastinate.
One way a small business is like your family is that there is always more work to do than can possibly be done. Things have to be cleaned, merchandise has to be ordered, events need to be planned, you need to respond to your customers in a timely manner, there’s a deadline at the end of the month that you totally forgot about, oh and every five years you have to re-register your DBA with the Florida Department of Corporations. Agghhhh.
So, how do you get everything done?
I got some really amazing advice the first year I was in business. I was fretting about being behind on some things and my mentor told me, “The only way you’re going to really be caught up on everything is if you go out of business.”
That’s just to say, if things are going well (and I hope they are!), there’s just going to be a lot of juggling priorities, catching up and figuring things out as you go.
Which is why it’s REALLY important to prioritize your work, so you make sure the most important things DO get done.
How to prioritize depends on your priorities, your values, the work your doing, etc. But that’s not today’s topic. Today’s topic is procrastination.
These are what I see as the major types of procrastination I run into:
Getting lost in a vortex
When I sit down to work, I like to start by checking my email, tidying up my desk, and turning on some music. I think this is a nice way to ease into my work and make sure that there isn’t something that is legitimately important that needs my attention right now. But, sometimes, checking my email sends me on a quest much like in “If you give a Mouse a Cookie” and I find myself making a bed for a small mouse out of a powder box and wondering what happened to my day!
Doing lots of little things but missing the BIG thing
Sometimes, I have one really important thing I need to do and 10 not nearly as important things to do. The one thing will take about 2 hours, but the 10 little things will take about 5 minutes each, so I start on them. So, I’ll get a WHOLE bunch of stuff done, but I won’t really get started on that super important thing because I did all this other stuff instead. It’s probably better to get the big thing out of the way while I have time.
Underestimating how much you can get done with consistent effort
This is particularly true with my taxes. Before I had kids, I could sit down and power through something like my tax return in one all-nighter or marathon work day. But now, I have two adorable little girls in my life, and they need time with their mom to read stories and play barbies. Also, they’re exhausting, and I can’t stay up past 11:00 pm anymore.
But, I have found that when I spend even 10 minutes a day on something, I can make a lot of progress.
So, I’m going to give myself (and hopefully you, fellow procrastinator) a little gift today. I’m going to acknowledge that yesterday was not as productive as I would have liked. But, I can take a lesson from that and do a little better today!
Ideas to avoid procrastination:
- Do one thing on your big project FIRST – do not check email, do not answer the phone, do not collect $200. Because once you’ve done that thing, you’ve taken A step in the right direction that cannot be un-taken. Sometimes taking that first step will give you enough momentum to keep going (so you’ll be in a positive vortex instead of a negative one!). Or if you do have to move on to other things, you’ll have done SOMETHING that you can pick back up on tomorrow!
- When you “give a mouse a cookie,” and it “asks for a glass of milk,” refuse. Politely of course.
- Don’t be tempted by low hanging fruit. The low hanging fruit will still be there later, but you will feel energized (I have faith!!!) by making progress on the thing that’s REALLY weighing you down!
Tomorrow is Saturday, and I think that while I enjoy giving myself the weekend off. I’ll do a little work tomorrow because for me, the consistency of effort is really important (and I kind of took yesterday off!). I’ll be reviewing my budget and sharing some ideas that may be helpful for you to track your own budget/spending.