Nearly every day, clients and prospective clients come to me with a big idea or project they want to tackle. Some are brimming with excitement, others with concern. Either way, some jump right in while others just seem to stall.
Procrastination is something we've all been guilty of now and then. (My particular form of procrastination includes snacking, excessive organising, and TV.)
Whatever the specifics, it usually stems from a perception that the project will be complex, expensive, or confusing. The keyword is perception. How can we get moving when stalled on a new project?
Here are some tactics that have worked for me.
Know what you need to know and what you don't. There are some projects where it is essential to understand exactly how something is set up. There are others where you only need to know enough to keep moving. Take setting up an email newsletter, for example. If setting up Mailchimp or Constant Contact is not intuitive for you, and you're wasting hours doing something you don't love, let someone else do the initial setup. You can still handle it monthly from there, even if you were not the one to build it in the first place.
Ask the question: What other information do I need? Sometimes we need to research to get started with a project; sometimes, we already have all the information. If you need more information, decide precisely what is missing and build a plan to get it. If you have everything, gather it together to see the project's big picture and feel more confident.
Don't ask for too many opinions. While it's nice to have the support of family and friends, ask yourself how much they really know about the decision you're trying to make. For example, when it comes to logo design, I trust my designer, not my friend who's good with colours (even though she may have a strong opinion). When it comes to choosing software to run my business, I listen to others who have made this decision before me. Asking for too much input is often just another way of procrastinating.
Break the project down into categories. Something like redesigning your website can seem like a monumental task. But if you break it down, you'll see more manageable chunks of work. In this case, start with the homepage and make a list of what you want to include – things like Facebook and LinkedIn social media icons, a headshot of yourself, a testimonial from a client, and a link to your calendar. The point is, be as specific as you can.
Don't keep the details in your head – write them down. When I don't have a written plan, I can spend hours spinning my wheels trying to remember what I've done and what to do next. Spend some time upfront to write a detailed plan so you can see the entire project. It will save time and work.
Leave perfectionism behind. It's better to get started and improve the work rather than wait until you have every detail just right. You'll learn as you go and make it better over time. Businesses evolve all the time – so develop the improvement muscle, and stay current with your business needs.
Just do it for 15 minutes. Now. Overall, the most challenging part of any new project is getting started. By allowing yourself to stop after 15min, you're far more likely to begin! When time's up, either switch guilt-free to doing something else or continue with the task at hand. You'll find that you usually just see it through.
Apply these simple ideas and put procrastination away for good!