Whether you're shirking that project deadline or avoiding that promising lead, nothing kills an upward career trajectory quite like procrastination. In fact, the tendency to put off tasks can do more than dent your credibility - it can wreak havoc with your confidence and hamper long-term success. Sadly, business owners that posses a tendency to procrastinate risk important opportunities while compromising skill development and professional growth. Here are six ways to kick the habit for good.
1. Get started
You've noted tasks in your iCal and plotted your day in minute detail but still can't quite bring yourself to start. At times, chronic organisation can be another means of procrastination in disguise. Try putting away the to-do list and throw yourself head first into the task at hand. Overcoming the fear of starting something daunting is often the most challenging part.
2. Face your fears head on
If perfect is the enemy of good, Voltaire's adage applies to putting things off as well. In fact, fear of being less than perfect is the biggest barrier for procrastinators everywhere. Counter this by recalling a time your work wasn't quite flawless but still managed to kick big goals. Think of your efforts as a form of service and you're less likely to get weighed down by ego.
3. Give yourself boundaries
Whether it's setting an alarm clock at noon each day or vowing to shut your laptop when the clock hits five, giving yourself boundaries and deadlines can see your workflow thrive. Knowing you have a limited time to complete a task can help you resist procrastination. Factoring limits into your workday is often the surest method to curb inaction.
4. Addressing the most daunting task first
It's no secret that we're more likely to prioritise minor jobs tasks ahead of those commitments that make us squirm. Tackling the responsibilities that terrify you before less stressful duties, however, is a proven way to get things done. Completing pressing tasks before more mundane duties can also build willpower - a trait that can help keep procrastination at bay. This is an asset that will help you build resilience throughout your career and keep self-doubt away.
5. Make visualisation a daily habit
Often, writing down your big-picture goals can be highly motivating and eradicate short-term fear. Try jotting down your professional dreams in a notebook and review them daily - this will help you perceive the tasks you're avoiding as a critical stepping stone. If you're a visual person, a sketchbook or vision board can help you imagine the professional life - or business - you want. This will prevent you from being paralysed by procrastination and give you the courage to move forward.
6. Call in the troops
If all else fails, enlisting friends and family to check in on you on a regular basis will make you accountable for the tasks you're trying to avoid. Assembling a support squad that is invested in your progress can cure personal inertia and ensure that you give indecision a rest.
Procrastination is a common affliction, but it's one that can be easily overcome. Do you tend to put things off? Go back to step one.
This article represents the views of the author only and not those of American Express.
Neha Kale is a freelance writer and editor with over six years’ experience in the media and finance industries. She has held senior editorial positions at various business and technology publications and specialises in online strategy, innovation, creativity and management best practices.