Ah, procrastination. The fine art of putting off today what can (maybe?) wait until tomorrow. We’re all guilty of it, even young entrepreneurs. Sometimes procrastinating is harmless. A project’s due in six months and you start it tomorrow instead of today. Maybe something more urgent came up and you had to set your first project aside for a while. These are instances when procrastination is simply a matter of prioritizing.
But what happens when procrastination becomes harmful? When you start to miss deadlines or due dates? Or when it keeps you from becoming the massively successful young entrepreneur we know you can be?
First, figure out why you procrastinate. Then read our tips on overcoming your procrastination habit. We promise it’ll be worth it.
WHY DO YOU PROCRASTINATE?
*You’re not following your natural schedule
Some people are morning people, and some are night owls. If you know you are more alert and energized soon after you wake up, that’s the time to prioritize the most important tasks. This may mean waking up 10, 20, or even 30 minutes earlier than usual so you can take advantage of your most productive hours.
*You’re easily overwhelmed
Your dream may be to start and run a small business, but the reality seems too big to handle. This is where a written business plan comes in handy. Rather than diving in and taking on every monumental task yourself, a business plan breaks everything down into smaller, more manageable tasks.
*You need instant results
Achieving success in your business may take a while – months, or even years. Understandably, you may not want to wait that long for results. If that’s the case, use the same method as above and break your tasks down. Each smaller task you accomplish is a reason to celebrate!
*You’re easily distracted
Let’s face it: high schoolers have a lot on their plates. There’s school. There are after-school activities. There’s homework. There’s family. There are friends. And now you’re going to add a business? It’s easy to hyper-focus on one thing to avoid doing something else, something less pleasant. Before you fall down that Twitch rabbit hole, check your to-do list and make sure you’re not about to miss a due date.
*You’re ignoring your mental health
Depression, anxiety, stress, and other mental health issues can all paralyze your mind and prevent you from taking action. If you lack the energy for even the most urgent tasks, or small steps feel overwhelming, it might be time to seek professional help.
*You’ve hit a wall
Each of us has only so much bandwidth for handling our lives. Running out of steam is definitely not a good way to become a successful young entrepreneur. Before you burn out and fall apart, take a break to recharge. This could be anything from a five-minute TikTok break to spending an entire day going for a hike.
*You believe you work best under pressure
You genuinely feel like if you’re not scrambling, you’re not doing it right. The longer you wait to complete (or get started on!) your task, the better your results will be. Perhaps your grades back you up on this…or, you only think they do.
OVERCOME PROCRASTINATION RIGHT NOW
No matter the reason why you procrastinate, there are ways to overcome it. Here are a few of our favorites.
*Set deadline reminders
Your phone probably has a free calendar feature that you can use to set daily (or hourly) reminders for yourself. And if you’re already in the habit of ignoring your phone’s built-in calendar, free apps such as Remember the Milk are there to help. Think of this as a gentle way to nag yourself into getting things done.
*Collect your tools first
It’s unlikely you’ll be able to run out and buy printer ink at 2 am. Even if you don’t want to start your project today, at least make sure you have everything you’ll need on hand. Nothing like missing a deadline because you waited until every store in your area was sold out the card stock you need.
*Change your workspace
If your home is too crowded and noisy, consider doing your work at school or your town’s library. Even if your home is quiet and peaceful, look around your workspace. Is it full of junk and distractions? Are you comfortable with your chair, desk, and computer set-up? Make sure the things you need most are within easy reach so that getting up for a pencil doesn’t morph into a half-hour break.
We prioritize what’s most important to us. This isn’t to say your friends and family aren’t important. But if you need to focus on the task at hand, consider setting your phone to silent or Do Not Disturb for an hour. They all know how to reach you if there’s a real emergency. And if you have social media notifications popping up every ten seconds you might think about setting your phone to silent for a few minutes.
*Be accountable to someone
You and your friend can compete to see who gets what done first. A little friendly rivalry can go a long way toward overcoming procrastination! Or tell your closest people what you plan to get done and by when. The pressure to avoid disappointing loved ones may be exactly what lights the fire under your butt.
*Try the two-minute rule
Motivational speaker and best-selling author James Clear suggests procrastinators break the habit by starting small. How small? Two minutes at a time. Check out his method and advice in an excerpt from his book, “Atomic Health,” here.
Don’t beat yourself up if you procrastinate, even if it’s become a habit. All habits are breakable, especially if you replace them with healthier habits. Your entrepreneurial success depends on your hard work and motivation. You deserve to see your dreams come true, so stop procrastinating and find your success!
Find out more about the Kantner Foundation, including our college scholarships for young entrepreneurs in Florida, by clicking here. We look forward to your application!