Stop procrastinating: You can delay, but time will not.

Written by Arno Jansen

We all do it, and we beat ourselves up about it. We want to stop procrastinating. No matter how awesome our lives can be, there are things we need to do, that we often dread. As a result, we find a million ways avoid doing the thing that needs to get done.

Although I am pretty good at getting the stuff done that needs to get done (if I say so myself), it is something I struggle with if I have a lot on my plate.

Instead of sharing some hyped, heroic story on “how I never procrastinate”, I’ll share a real-life example how one my clients is working to beat procrastinating on making cold calls for his startup side-business.

For this fellow self-starter, regular cold calling is a challenge. Being an introverted individual, he finds himself grappling with the discomfort of reaching out to strangers and discussing his developing product.

So, we spend some time together to make this process more manageable. The key is to establish a routine. To have a series of steps at the ready whenever he needs to do these calls. This helps turn the dread into a manageable and structured process. These cold calls are a way to get his name out there in the industry he works in. It is also a way to discuss a common problem that he is developing a solution for.

Not only does having a process help add structure, it also creates some emotional distance, so that there is less dread and discomfort. Just start the routine and go through the steps.

Here’s how we did it, and how you can apply the same principles to your challenges.

Shifting Perspectives

The first step was changing the way he viewed these calls. Rather than seeing them as potential validation or rejection of himself, we reframed them as opportunities to connect with new people. It is also a way to get insights into the problem he has a solution for.
The focus shifted from imposing himself unsollicited, to offering a solution to a common problem. Every call then becomes a data-gathering conversation, providing valuable insights.

Setting the Right Mood

To combat the anxiety associated with getting started with these cold calls, we introduced a pre-call ritual. A carefully chosen song or playlist played before each session. Over time, the brain will associate this music with the task at hand, putting him in the right mindset and easing the transition into the calls.
It is like having a workout playlist when you’re going to exercise.

Eliminating Awkward Starts

Memorizing and rehearsing the initial sentences removes the awkwardness of starting a cold call. Having a short script ensures a smooth beginning, giving him the confidence to navigate through the rest of the conversation.
When you’re applying this to your situation, look for steps at the beginning of the process that you can do without thinking about it.

• If you’re doing calls: can you make an introductory script?
• If you’re creating content: can you come up with a chatGPT prompt to kickstart the ideation?
• If you want to go running: tell yourself to put on the shoes and go outside.

Find something to get you going on the first, tiniest step. Once you’re at it, you are much less inclined to quit.

Data Gathering

During the call, specific questions were prepared to gather crucial data points. This not only kept the conversation focused but also provided valuable information for analysis afterward.

If you don’t need specific data for the thing you want to do, it is still a great motivation to track your progress visually. How many times did you go running? How many calls did you make? How many articles or video’s did you publish.

This makes you understand that this is part of a longer-term process that you have to keep going, not just this one thing today that you rather not be doing.

Immediate Post-Call Action

After each call, he immediately tracks the data and makes concise notes about the conversation. This post-call routine helps in consolidating the information and staying organized.

While this routine does not transform cold calling into a joyful experience, it can significantly reduce the dread and procrastination. The structured process allows him to approach the task with some emotional distance, making it easier to “just get it done.”

This post-call step is also something of a reward. Another call done, data tracked, this routine has finished.

Closure.

Dreaded thing over.

What “post action” step can you take after you have done what you need to get done? For example: celebrate your efforts by tracking your progress

Applying the Routine to Your Challenges

Now, how can you implement this in your life? Have a look at these 8 options:

  1. Identify the Challenge: Write down what you find yourself procrastinating on – be it work-related or personal.
  2. Positive Mindset: Jot down a few sentences emphasizing why this task is useful, necessary, or important for you or others involved.
  3. Mood-setting Music: Find a song that resonates with your positive mindset. Let it become the soundtrack to your task.
  4. Define “Done”: Clearly write down what completion looks like. Is it making a set number of calls, hitting the publish button, or another measurable achievement? This adds clarity to what you’re doing.
  5. Break Down the Steps: Outline the steps needed to complete the task. Simplify as much as possible; you can always refine or expand the process later. Right now, you need to find ways to get going.
  6. Identify the First Step: Find the most obvious and manageable first step to kickstart your progress. And make it something so easy you don’t have to think about it at all.
  7. Reward Yourself: Consider a small, meaningful reward after completing the task. It could be a cup of coffee, a short walk – something to acknowledge and celebrate your achievement.
  8. Schedule It: Add the task to your schedule. For recurring activities, assign a specific time, making it a non-negotiable part of your routine.

Of course these are not simply copy-paste items. You have to actually spend some time and effort to find what works best for you. But it is worth putting in that effort, because your ability to overcome obstacles and procrastination gives a big boost to your ability to focus on what matters most in your life.

For my client, cold calling will never be a fun activity, but by working with the 8 suggestions above, he is able to tweak and improve his process step by step, making it slightly easier to get those calls done and showing up again no matter the outcome of those calls.


Remember, gradual progress beats sporadic perfection. Establishing a routine might not make the task enjoyable, but it transforms it from an insurmountable obstacle into a manageable part of your journey.

You got this, I’m rooting for you! 🙌

Arno

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