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New Year Res: Fight Procrastination!

Welcome to a new year! January is always a great time to get our outreach marketing campaigns--for ourselves or our clients--as on schedule as possible. And that's why you (and/or your team) needs to fight procrastination. Trust me, I know what procrastination is. And no I didn’t have to become a writer on aging America's health topics to learn the word.

But it’s not enough to know the word and its basic definition of putting off a task or event. It’s more critical to recognize two things. The first is that you must admit that the “productive” work you, your team or your clients are doing (versus what SHOULD be done) is not really going to bring biz goals to fruition.

No. To truly glean whatever your definition of “success” is for your business (or your clients'), you really need the second step: to actually move onward with your specific project.

To delay or to not delay

Let’s be clear. Avoiding procrastination is not the same as taking a break. In any type of communications, it can clear our minds when we stop staring at our computers blankly. It can be even worse when we retype...and retype...and retype; that can make us feel truly dimwitted.

There’s a difference between taking a break to get some exercise, eat a regular meal (or healthy snack), or have a (quick) chat with a friend or loved one.

But even presumably health-enhancing behaviors can actually bring negative mental and physical consequences. These range from severe anxiety and depression to heart disease and high blood pressure.

Your brain can enhance sneakiness

Similarly, "important" business work can actually be a delaying tool. In the 90s, before the ‘Net was a great research tool, it was far more efficient to recognize the need to set aside a full afternoon to go down to the library and map out potential clients, their phone #s, geography, and at least one exec at each company to contact.

But that was a carefully marked off calendar event. Now it’s SO easy to spend hours (and hours) getting insights about a new company and/or biz leader, finding them via LinkedIn or simple Googling. But then of course you must enter them into Contacts or MailChimp. Or maybe you’re using a new CRM and well, after all, you really must get this set up. Right?

No. When you really need to update Contacts, or learn a new program, or help your business in any way, experts say the same thing: set specific times in your calendar for such things.

Aim for smaller accomplishments All lessons on fighting procrastination offer the same advice: start small. Instead of aiming for “I’ll get all of my weekly blogs for January finished today,” it might be better to say, “I’ll get my Week 1 January blog finished today.”

If you’re just starting out, set even more realistic goals; e.g., instead of four weekly blogs each month, figure you’ll be a 1x-a-month blogger. Yes, it’s nice to get a lot more words out there, but if feeling overwhelmed makes you stall developing any stories, wouldn’t it be great to achieve one each month?

Or maybe you need to be careful about desired income targets. I saw a blog not long ago where someone asked, “Isn’t it time to start making more than your $8,000 month….”. Eight thou monthly?! That can be a great goal for some businesses, but any number can be terrifying, especially when the leaders are not experienced or on a tight budget. So set it smaller. As long as any income is viable (and that’s another topic), a tempered goal can help mitigate your fears.

Learn to be forgiving

I’m not suggesting your goals be SO tiny that they barely drive you towards success. And while I’ve focused on communications, it doesn’t matter what your work involves. You can be a statistician, dancer, baker, sales rep...well, you get the idea. Any career can be overwhelming.

Heck, aims of daily life can get anyone crazed. Organizing our recipes. Cleaning out closets. Planting our veggies. Whatever challenges you face, just acknowledge the fear and forgive yourself. Then adjust your goals, and start smaller. Eventually you’ll be more comfortable at accepting challenges.

Now excuse me, folks. I’ll never get my 30-minute exercise program finished today; it’s one of my chief procrastinations. So I’m just going to dance during each commercial over the next two hours of TV watching. After all, that’s about 32 minutes total! :) ###

Wendy Meyeroff has been writing and ghostwriting health and tech materials for trade and consumer audiences for 20+ years. Find her website at . Then call for help fighting procrastination, thanks to a savvy, stay on schedule, outside influence.

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