Late Night Listener Feedback
Aren’t you guys glad that the idea of the internet marketing comedy podcast itself is a joke and that I’m not going in that direction? Or have you already unsubscribed? I hope not.
Some cool listener feedback this week. First of all, a review in iTunes. You know that I appreciate those very much, awesome review by Chet who says, “Mark, thanks for doing the podcast. You have excellent content and you motivate me to do this.” By “this” I think internet marketing that Chet does he gets some motivation from the podcast.
That makes me feel great. One of the amazing things about this format is that I can be bigger than me, I can help people in some way that allows them to accomplish way more than I could ever accomplish myself and I really like that.
Chet, thanks for the feedback. If you guys out there want to leave a review in iTunes, I’d love that. Head over to LateNightIM.com/itunes and you’ll get right there and be able to do that very easily.
I got a great tweet from Dennis Esalas the other day on Twitter and wanted to give him a shout out. I always ask on Twitter, “What can I do to make your day amazing?” and he says, “I’d love a shout out on the podcast,” so shout out to you. Thank you very much. We had a long and very interesting conversation about how to pronounce his last name correctly, which I’m sure I totally crucified – sorry about that.
I really love hearing from you guys on Twitter and all of those different things. If you want to reach me you can always go over to LateNightIM.com/connect. I would love to hear from you. I want to hear what you’re up to, what I can help you with, what’s going on, and all that kind of stuff.
Thanks for the feedback, guys. Keep it coming. It makes me smile.
I want to get right into this procrastination business. When I told my wife, “Hey, do you want to come on the podcast? I’m doing a show about procrastination,” she laughed at me, which was hilarious. Then she said something like, “Well, you’re an expert at that.” And it’s true. This is physician heal thy self moment. I’ve worked a lot on procrastination over the years. I’m really good at figuring out how to avoid doing things that I either don’t want to do, or am not in the mood to do, or I don’t know. That’s what we’re going to unpack here as kind of what you should do when you find yourself procrastinating.
What I’ve done is I’ve broken it down for you into the five phases of this procrastination correction. Then the fifth phase is where you take some action to overcome the procrastination and I have 10 things that you can do once you’re at that point where you’re ready to correct the procrastination, things you can do to get over it. Without further ado, let’s talk about these four phases of procrastination healing that you can go through before you get to the fifth phase where you’re actually doing something about it.
The first phase in my mind is that you have to recognize procrastination. I say this because sometimes your procrastination is so inherent or so built-in and such a part of your subconscious that you don’t even realize that you’re procrastinating. You continue to put stuff off for maybe what you think are good reasons, you haven’t even really thought about it, and then days and weeks and sometimes months go by. Sometimes so much time goes by that you procrastinate on something so long that you legitimately forget about it entirely, you don’t even realize that you’re procrastinating.
So I think the first thing to understand is when this is happening to you. What is it in your life that is not getting done on time, that you’re not getting around to? Sometimes it’s painfully obviously because you’re aware of it and it’s causing you stress, there are these items on your list that you see every day that you’re not doing. That’s one kind of procrastination, but I think another kind of procrastination is the kind of procrastination that you put off and you don’t even really recognize that you’re doing it, like that doctor’s appointment that for some reason you really don’t want to schedule, or that proactive thing that you need to do with your finances that you’re just not even really thinking about, it’s not even in front of you in your conscious mind. The first thing is to recognize procrastination.
One way that I can see procrastination is that I use this computer tool for scheduling and reminding me of things called Omnifocus. I try to list everything that I might want to do some day in the near term and in the long term inside that tool. It literally has hundreds of items in there of things that I’ve thought about. I do that to get those things off of my mind. In some cases I have things that I’ve written down in there months or even years ago that I just haven’t done for whatever reason.
Writing things down and keeping track of the ideas that you have about the things that you might want to do some day or that you should do some day, maybe sooner rather than later, is a great idea. Reviewing those lists will help you recognize procrastination. So that’s the first thing, make sure that you own it, recognize it and own it.
I think the second thing, and this may be the most important thing of these five things, is understand why it is that you are procrastinating on that topic. Usually it’s going to be one of two things.
One is don’t have a good reason to be doing it in the first place, you’re not connected with your why, you’re procrastinating because you’re not sufficiently motivated. Deep inside where your intrinsic motivation comes from you don’t understand why it is you’re doing it in the first place. You’re doing it because somebody told you that you should or you’re doing it because who knows why, but you don’t know why.
When you’re procrastinating on something one thing to do is unpack why it’s on the list in the first place and is it important. If it’s not important, let’s take it off the list and not do it, or deprioritize it, and then we won’t be procrastinating anymore. If it is important, let’s understand why it’s important and that will help us have the fuel and motivation and intrinsic push that we need to get something done.
The other reason that I think you need to understand why you’re procrastinating is a lot of times people procrastinate because they have some limiting belief that they have not yet dealt with. There is something about it they’re worried about that is preventing them from moving forward. They’re worried that their work is not going to be good enough, or that people won’t accept them, or that they’ll be criticized, or they fear success, or they have limiting beliefs around money, or they have something about imposter syndrome where they don’t feel like they’re qualified to do the thing, or they’re not sure exactly what to do because they don’t think they’re qualified to decide how to proceed.
All of these limiting beliefs are important to understand and when you identify those limiting beliefs, for example like fear, you have to unpack them. Fear is a really good one because if you write down the very worst things that can happen if you attempt something and fail usually those very worst things aren’t very bad. Most limiting beliefs are like that. When you really get down to measuring these fears and other concerns that you have, they’re really small in comparison to what you should be able to gain by powering through them.
So understand why you’re procrastinating. That will help you deal with it later when we get down to the actions.
I think the third phase of this five step program for procrastination after you’ve recognized the procrastination and unpacked why it’s happening is to go ahead and forgive yourself. We all do it, everyone procrastinates. Some of us, like me, procrastinate chronically. That’s fine, it happens. You need to work to make yourself better and get better and fix it, but dwelling in the past over this issue or most other issues is not really very instructive.
Once you’ve learned whatever lesson there is to learn from the past – in this case it would be I’m a procrastinator and I need to do something about it – really the only way forward is through. You want to go ahead and look in the forward direction.
To heck with all this bologna about beating yourself about things that happened in the past. You’re going to need all of your mental energy and focus to move forward. I don’t want you spending time with self recriminations and all this heavy baggage. Let all of that go. Let’s move forward. Dragging that junk with you is not going to help you at all. You need to forgive yourself and go forward.
Then I think the fourth thing that you need to do as part of that ditching exercise where you’re ditching all the baggage that you have and all of the guilt and self recrimination, you need to ditch your excuses. This is one of the places where procrastinators excel.
You’ll see this particularly in college students. I hear this even in corporate America, people will tell me, “I work better under pressure.” You do not work better under pressure. You may be more efficient under pressure out of necessity, but I guarantee you that the quality of your work is not better under pressure. We hear that one all the time, that cracks me up.
A lot of people feel like they can finish things at the last minute because at the last minute that will necessarily constrain the time or whatever, they have all these scheduling excuses, or they just have the excuse that they don’t want to right now, or they don’t feel well right now, or they don’t feel like it, or they’re not in the right mood or the moon phase is not right, or whatever. Whatever your excuse is.
My favorite one is dieting, “I’ll start on Monday.” What the heck, why are you going to start your diet on Monday? “I’m going to party this weekend and then start on Monday.” Then you’re going to blow your diet on Thursday and start over again on Monday. That’s procrastination. These kinds of “I don’t want to start this right now, I’m going to start it in the future,” all of these excuses for why you do that, you have to set all of those aside and leave them with the baggage.
Once you’ve recognized the procrastination, understood as best you can why you’re procrastinating, and forgiven yourself for the procrastination and agreed with yourself, made a contract with yourself that you’re not going to make excuses, what actions can you take to kill the procrastination and prevent future procrastination?
What can you set up to be successful and get procrastination the heck out of the way?
The first thing you can do is create accountability. I think this is a well proven thing. Tell people what you’re doing when it’s appropriate, ask them to hold you accountable, ask your partners in your business to hold you accountable. Talk to people about what you’re doing and let them know so that you’ll be in fear of them asking you how things are going, because you don’t want to have to say, “I haven’t really started that yet,” and make an excuse because you’ve already agreed that you’re not going to make excuses, so you’d just look like a dummy.
The best thing to do is to help people hold you accountable. This can be done with mastermind groups, you can find accountability partners specifically for this case. I’ve even seen cases where people use these virtual assistant type services like FancyHands to actually schedule a call in the future to have the assistant call and ask the person how they’re doing. A programmed hired accountability partner, these kinds of things exist.
The other things you can do in terms of accountability is you can use technology. There are a lot of apps out there, habit building apps and so forth, that will help you. Even just calendar reminders where you set a calendar reminder to journal your progress, or maybe use Day One Journal to journal your progress on your computer, to force you to recognize when you’re making progress, or more importantly when you’re not making progress. It’s kind of like when you’re dieting and you log your food. If you log your progress you can hold yourself accountable and use technology to help you create accountability. That’s the first thing.
The second thing is obvious and you hear this a lot, optimize your environment. This goes in a lot of directions. You can remove distractions by turning of Wi-Fi. I hear Amy Porterfield say the other day that sometimes during her “tiger time” she turns off her Wi-Fi, which is hard for me to even imagine. That’s a pretty extreme thing. They have Facebook blockers that you can install, you can turn off your email, and those sorts of things so you can remove those digital distractions.
You can also remove other distractions like televisions, radios, and other noise and distractions in your environment. You can make sure you have kind of a Zen workspace without a lot of junk on your desk to accomplish this distraction removal.
The other thing is you can just move. You can get up and go work at Starbucks or something to help deal with distraction. You can put yourself in a foreign environment where there’s just not a lot of other stuff to do. You can’t get up and go do a chore if you’re at Starbucks, you’re kind of trapped there in front of your computer. Optimize your environment to make it most likely that you’ll be successful in completing whatever task it is that you need to complete, that’s the second thing.
The third thing is break it down. This goes back to the why. Sometimes the why for procrastination is that the task is massive and intimidating. I’m feeling this a little bit with the Late Night Affiliate Course that I’m trying to create that is going to have tens of videos and all of this content that I have to create and that I’m in the process of creating, it just seems so overwhelming. It goes back to how do you eat an elephant; it’s one bite at a time. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. It’s that thing.
Sometimes if you go ahead and break down this task that you’re procrastinating and commit to accomplishing the very first task and setting some small goals behind that, that can get you going. Once you build up some momentum you can really make some progress. This thing that’s bugging you, break it down.
If it’s your income tax that you’re procrastinating on, I understand that, I procrastinate on my income tax every year. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve filed extensions not because I didn’t have all of the information I needed available, but just because I didn’t want to take care of the paperwork and I knew I could simply file an extension. Really the way to do it and when I’m successful with it is when I break it down into small tasks. I have the needed paperwork, well that’s a lot of paperwork. What’s the first thing? It’s the PNL statement for the business from the accountant or other kinds of paperwork, the mortgage statements or whatever it is that you need for your income taxes.
Break that down into steps in a tool like Omnifocus or on a piece of scratch paper. Do the first step and keep doing the steps and breaking it down into little goals to get it done, because it’s a lot easier to go ahead and bust through procrastination to take care of a small thing. If you have to take care of a big thing, like boiling the entire ocean, it’s going to be a lot harder. So that’s number three, break it down.
Number four is to just take bold action. Sometimes the way to bust through procrastination is ready, fire, aim. You don’t know exactly what to do, maybe you’re procrastinating because you’re not sure that what you’re going to do next is going to be the right thing.
Sometimes it’s faster to just go ahead and do the thing, screw it up, and fix it than it is to sit there and theorize and analyze and go through analysis paralysis trying to figure out exactly what it is that you should be doing. Just go do something. Take some bold action. Bold action is most often rewarded, especially in this kind of business. You can take some action and learn from it. If it’s not exactly right, you can fix it.
Publish that epic blog post; if there are mistakes in it, WordPress has an edit function, go edit it. It’s not that big of a deal. If you put out a course and one of the videos is not perfect, after the course is out and you get some feedback, fix it. The people that bought your course will love you for that because they’re going to see you as responsive. I’m not saying you should be irresponsible and not try to do your best work all of the time, but doing no work at all is certainly not going to get you anywhere. You need to take bold action, and that’s number four.
Number five is be realistic about what it is that you can accomplish. Sometimes we procrastinate because we are so overwhelmed with stuff that we don’t even know where to start, so rather than starting we go watch NCIS. I always pick on those guys because I like that show.
We just don’t start at all because we know there’s no way we’re going to do it all and it’s just demoralizing and stressful, so the easiest thing to do is to check out, “I’ll figure it out tomorrow. I’m too tired. I’m going to bed. I’ll go watch TV. I’ll watch the news, I need to know what the weather is for tomorrow.” Whatever your excuse is, because you’ve got an unrealistic schedule to begin with. Number five is absolutely get realistic.
Number six is my favorite one that I’ve talked about for so many years now, leverage your habits. The best habit that you can have to knock out procrastination is work on your business every day. If you’re procrastinating in your business but you’re working on it every day, it’s pretty easy for you to just slide that procrastination thing into the next slot since you’re doing something every day.
Where we get in trouble is we procrastinate on things we need to do and then we don’t do anything on Tuesday night, then on Wednesday night, and then on Thursday night, and then it’s the weekend and we’re busy, and then a week has gone by and you haven’t really made any real progress in your business, and the progress that you did make you were mostly goofing around on Facebook. That’s what we want to avoid.
One way to build up a defense against that is this sixth item of leveraging your habits. Getting up every morning and doing X, Y, and Z every day, or making sure that you do something in your business every day to make a little progress, making sure that you review your top items every week to make sure that you know. Whatever your rituals are for success, leverage those habits understanding that you can use them in the battle against procrastination. That can take you a really long way.
Maybe you don’t have these habits. Then I think you should start by picking one and developing it. Again, my favorite is don’t let a day go by without doing something that moves your business forward, even if it’s just a little bit. Of course that applies best to part time entrepreneurs.
If you’re a full time entrepreneur you’re obviously already doing a little something every day, or at least I hope you are if you’re spending the whole day on your business, so you’re going to want to pick something else. Maybe that habit is a Sunday evening ritual to plan out your week, a Monday morning ritual to create content, whatever that is use that to help defeat procrastination. Leverage your habits is the sixth item.
Number seven is change your habits. Let’s say that you have these habits, or you have some habits, and they’re not working for you. Make a radical change in your habits just to defeat the procrastination.
If you have something that you just absolutely can’t deal with, you just haven’t been able to do it, it’s a big task and you haven’t been able to get it done, change your habit of working at home every day and go rent a hotel room and sequester yourself until the task is done. In fact, I knew somebody who that’s how he did product creation. Jimmy Brown a lot of times over the years will lock himself in a hotel room for a day or two until his product is created and then he’ll go sell it and make a lot of money.
Change your habits. Get up early this week. Until that procrastination item is dealt with, commit to getting out of bed early and using that extra time and change of scenery (the changed habit) to actually get something done. Just radically what you’re doing. If you never work at Starbucks, go work at Starbucks. Change things up, change your habits, and use that disruption to give you the energy that you need to get the thing done that you have not been able to get done, that’s number seven.
Number eight is use the right tool. Maybe even buy a tool. There’s no reason that you can’t make this fun. Sometimes we procrastinate because we are not in possession of the best tool for the job. Maybe you need to defeat that by going out and getting the tool you need.
Maybe it’s that piece of software you’ve been wanting but you really can’t afford or haven’t been able to justify, but maybe it would be worth it if it helped you overcome this thing that you’ve been trying to get done and get it done. Maybe that software would be worth it, maybe that new computer would help get you the excitement that you need to get past this.
I often do this at Lowes and Home Depot, which are home improvement stores. A long time ago I decided that having tools in my possession, owning tools, was a really important thing. Every time that I do a new project around the house, when I’m going to Lowes or Home Depot, these big supply kind of stores here in the United States, I also try to throw a tool in my basket that I don’t have but that I need for the project. Maybe there’s a special wrench or some kind of special something that I need that I don’t own. I could probably do the project without it, but having that new tool now in my arsenal forever, as hand tools tend to be, will make all future projects more efficient. It makes it fun for me, it’s like a little built in reward that I get every time I do a home improvement project.
That’s a thing you can do. Maybe you have this kind of built in improvement process that goes along with defeating the procrastination where you add in a tool to help you get the job done and defeat the procrastination. Number eight, using the right tool or getting the tool, is very closely to number nine.
Number nine is to make sure that you set a reward for winning against the procrastination. When you accomplish the thing that you haven’t been accomplishing, make sure that you declare victory and reward yourself. You may want to set that reward ahead of time as part of the way that you overcome the procrastination. I really want a double meat cheeseburger, but I’m not going to go get one until I finish this take. That sort of thing.
What goes hand in hand with this on number nine is gamification. Sometimes if you gamify what it is that you’ve been procrastinating on that can help. You set some goals or maybe make a race out of it. Maybe you have a buddy who is trying to do this, too, and you can race them. Whatever you can do to turn it into a game, this idea of gamification can be very helpful and the reward can be part of that gamification. I definitely recommend that sort of approach to defeat procrastination.
The tenth thing that I’ll offer you, and this is my absolutely favorite, outsource it. You don’t want to do it, so don’t do it. Find somebody else to do it. One of the great things about being an entrepreneur is that you can architect your business over time to focus on the things that you’re good at and absolutely not do the things that you’re terrible at.
I am terrible at accounting. Not because I don’t know math, I can’t even tell you how much math I took. I’ve never counted it up, but five or six math courses in undergraduate school, three or four math courses in graduate school, boy knows some math. I hate accounting. I can’t stand it. The last thing I want to do is figure out what column in some spreadsheet and what category to put against my ConvertKit bill. I just could care less, so I have somebody do that. Otherwise, I would procrastinate doing it and my income tax would be even later than it already is.
Outsource it. This is a lot easier than you think. Depending on what it is that you’re trying to get done, you can have virtual assistants that will do that for you. You can go on these work sharing websites where you can hire people on an hourly basis to do the kinds of things that you need to do.
Sometimes you can find people on Fiverr to do the thing that you don’t want to do. If it’s creating that graphic that you’re procrastinating on, don’t create the graphic. Have a guy on Fiverr create five different versions and pick one. If you have some budget, go to 99designs, then you’ll have as many graphics as you can possibly stand to look at, you won’t even be able to shake a stick at all of these graphics.
The point is if you’re procrastinating on something, then just don’t do it, have somebody else do it. As long as it gets done, sort of who cares. As long as it’s not something that you absolutely have to do, there’s no reason not to outsource the things that you’re procrastinating on.
Those are ten actions you can take.
- You can create accountability,
- optimize your environment,
- break your stuff down,
- take some bold action,
- get realistic about the stuff that you need to do,
- leverage your existing habits,
- change your habits,
- use the right tool for the job,
- set up rewards and gamification,
- or you can outsource it.
Those are my ten strategies for busting through procrastination. I hope that is super helpful to you.
Now, here’s what I want you to do. Figure out the one thing that you’ve been procrastinating on and apply these items and go get it done. You can do it.
Until next week, I’ll see ya.