We all fall victim to procrastination, so how do you overcome it and focus? We need to learn to get rid of distractions and clear our minds.
This can seem like a daunting task at first; a massive mountain we must conquer and climb. It’s off-putting and can make us apprehensive or even hesitant to start, let alone see the project through to the end. So, I’m going to share a few tips to help you refocus your mind, and break tasks down into smaller steps.
This lesson was inspired by a Profit Copilot student and monthly member named Don. He wrote;
I was wondering if you have any tricks for staying focused. I find I have so many ideas and I keep jumping from project to project. It’s a serious problem. I’ve tried shutting everything else off, but I start working on the project and I need something… next thing I know, its hours later and I realize I forgot about my project entirely. Also, do you know of any good project management software that doesn’t take a year to learn to use?
Don submitted a great question.
So here are my tips to help you focus and get projects done.
Proper Task Management
I’ll start first with a very useful tool for project and event planning called Trello.
Trello is a cloud-based program that works across all platforms and devices and is, in my opinion, one of the most efficient and helpful project management tools, if not the absolute best available.
My fiancée and I are currently using Trello to plan our wedding and it has been an invaluable asset to us in so many ways. I also use it for my business projects, so it is versatile and easy to use. I suggest trying this program if you need a tool to help you stay focused and organized.
The first thing you’ll want to do as soon as you start a project, but before you begin any specific task toward its overall completion, is to write down a list of all the major tasks and subtasks.
A great way to look at this list a little differently is by drawing a line on one end of the page and a line opposite it, on the other side. You’ll connect these lines by adding the major, complex tasks along the way (or project milestones) from start to finish, until you’ve reached the end of the line.
After you’ve added your milestones, you’ll want to add the smaller, subtasks within each. Think of each milestone as a project on its own, when adding your subtasks.
The Escape & Arrival Framework
This is sometimes referred to as the Escape and Arrival Framework; a type of project mapping that allows you to lay out your project in big and small steps to help you organize and focus on what needs to be done first, and what can be finished last. Now you can see a broken-down view of what you need to achieve to finish the project or reach the established goal.
The next step you’ll want to take is to find the weakest points within these milestones. Weak points are the tasks you are unsure about or hesitant to work on.
This may be because you don’t know how to complete it, or you don’t have the skill, experience or tools to do so. Procrastination often happens when we are unsure of our abilities or feel like we may not be good enough at something to complete it. (i.e Imposter Syndrome). It isn’t the only circumstance where we procrastinate, but it’s a common one.
Overcome Imposter Syndrome
Imposter Syndrome is something I struggled with for a long time when it came to my own business. For almost five years I was hesitant to move forward with Profit Copilot. Although I had 15 years’ worth of experience in digital marketing and had created a successful business, I still felt as though I wasn’t qualified to share that knowledge.
I was able to overcome this, luckily, and I’ll share more about that with you a little later, but just know that it is possible to get past these obstacles. Whatever your reason for procrastination is, you should use this first step to find a solution, whether that’s hiring someone else for a particular task or educating yourself more in that area.
Break your project down as far as you can and find those weak points. Then come up with possible fixes or ways to make them easier for yourself. Make this as detailed as you can, and if you’re feeling stuck, take a break or enlist a colleague and ask for some advice.
But don’t overwhelm or discourage yourself from moving forward and finishing your task. Remember, obstacles are not in place to make you fail. Instead, they act as a lesson to improve your skill and create confidence in your abilities.
The 2 Minute Rule
The next method you can use to help yourself stay focused and motivated is called the “two-minute rule”; committing to just two minutes of a task at a time. Although this may seem counter-productive at first, it’s a great way to begin working or give yourself a mental break when you’re losing momentum. How can you do this? Take trying to publish a book or an ebook as an example.
Let’s say you’re either struggling to begin writing or becoming overwhelmed throughout the process, commit to writing just one sentence at one time, or in one sitting.
Because you aren’t aiming to finish the project, only to complete a very small piece at once, you’re likely to start to build up that lost momentum again, and you will be more apt to want to carry on that task further than just those two minutes.
Before you know it, you’ll have been writing for an hour or two and have a sizeable portion of that project done. You’ve only committed to doing two minutes of work and that’s often all it takes to really get your mind in the right place.
Stop Comparing Yourself
Clearing your head and getting rid of the preconceived, negative thoughts you may have about yourself and/or your abilities is equally as important to your success as are the methods and tools you use to complete your project, if not more so. Earlier I mentioned my own issues with procrastination and self-doubt. Although it took some effort, I was able to remedy that in different ways.
I had to learn to stop comparing myself to others and realize that I often thought in black and white, with no grey area or middle ground, which was not conducive to my success. I came to terms with this habit and started writing down all the negative, comparative and overgeneralised thoughts about myself.
It really helped me uncover the underlying problems to these thoughts and change them, as well as separate the thoughts which were true versus the ones that were just a lack of confidence in my own abilities. I also listed all my successes, no matter how small they seemed at the time, which helped to rebuild that confidence.
So, if you’re having a hard time starting or seeing a project to its end, use these tools and steps to sharpen your focus, motivate yourself, and succeed.
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