Ah, procrastination. It’s a big bugaboo for at least 20% of people in the United States, according to psychologists. Most of us think of procrastination as just putting off work, but it can be more than that. Procrastination means coupons expire, gift cards go unused, and the laundry gets done only when the clean clothes run out.
Procrastination is missing out on opportunity. If you’ve ever struggled with procrastination personally or professionally, it can be stressful and frustrating—especially when you don’t know why you keep doing it.
For the real estate investor, seizing opportunity is at the forefront of your responsibilities. Overcoming your patterns of procrastination will take time and small, consistent efforts. When you examine why you procrastinate and discover what gets you motivated, you’ll finally be able to achieve your true potential as a real estate investor.
Why We Procrastinate
Psychologists would name a great many factors behind procrastination, but for our purposes, we’ll focus on three that can specifically plague professionals:
We Feel Overwhelmed
Feeling like we don’t know where to start because a task is complicated, has a lot of stages and moving parts, or has a lot riding on it is a big source of procrastination and a barrier to success. When a task seems too big and daunting, we’re more likely to put it off—especially if we’re going at it alone.
We Feel Inadequate
When we feel like we don’t have the skills, knowledge, or resources to achieve, it’s easy to procrastinate. A lack of confidence, however, isn’t a good reason to not try. Investing in real estate is very much a learning experience; not only from other professionals, but from working in the proverbial trenches ourselves. Don’t allow a lack of experience to hold you back. Everyone has to earn experience themselves, over time.
We Feel Afraid
A fear of failure is a very real barrier to procrastinators. Obviously, we don’t want to lose money. We don’t want our efforts to feel wasted. A fear of success can also be paralyzing: success often brings with it higher expectations and the notion of “the higher you are, the further you fall.”
Procrastinators would rather not try and maintain a comfortable status quo, rather than change it and risk failure or the responsibilities, attention, and pressures that come with success.
How We Can Overcome Procrastination and Increase Productivity
Recognize Your Distractions of Choice
First things first: recognize when you procrastinate. Do you spend too much time drafting your e-mails or to-do lists? Do you agonize over tiny details that shouldn’t take all that much time? How often do your thoughts wander? Do you click on one genuinely helpful article and end up getting lost down the rabbit hole? How long and how often do you check social media during the day?
Recognizing what you allow to distract you is one of the first steps to overcoming procrastination.
Stop Lying to Yourself
“I work better under pressure.”
“I can’t start until _______.”
“I can just do this tomorrow.”
Procrastinators have perfected the art of lying to themselves. Whether it’s arbitrarily deciding they work better under pressure (they don’t) or making up things to do before doing the thing that actually matters, this self-deception only encourages procrastination.
Meet the Goals You Set
Follow-through is important for everyone, but particularly so for professionals. For real estate investors, not meeting your goals doesn’t just hurt your aspirations, but, depending on what it is, it can damage your reputation. That’s why it’s so important to meet the goals you set: starting with the things you can do today.
If you, as a procrastinator, write down big lofty goals and give yourself a hard deadline, you’re almost guaranteed to be setting yourself up for failure. Instead of planning big, start small. Make an achievable to-do list. Tackle big projects in small chucks. Reward yourself for the little victories, not just the big wins.
Mind Your Environment
Is your working environment conducive to increasing your productivity? Are you working at the kitchen table or in an office? How many extra distractions are in your environment? Windows, people, screens, uncomfortable furniture (or too-comfortable furniture) can all be big distractions for us. If you find yourself losing focus where you are, change it up. Set hard “office hours” for yourself, even if you’re doing work from home.
For people dealing with procrastination, it’s easy to beat yourself up when you slip back into old patterns. Remember: it’s a process. Instead of lamenting a missed deadline you set for yourself, celebrate the little wins. Muster your determination to do better next time. If you allow your failures to rule you, you’re not going to be able to reach the productivity you need.