Well, unfortunately, she said yes, which means now I actually have to DO it. And, follow through. To the end. Sigh.
I wrote the two paragraphs above three weeks ago. Then, I thought about, researched, analyzed, and procrastinated while the word doc just sat open on my computer. I could go on — in great detail – about how I spent HOURS culling the bookmarks on my desktop, planning a ‘someday’ trip to NYC, and re-designing my imaginary library on Pinterest. None of which was a) necessary, b) effective, or c) getting the article written.
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The True Causes of Procrastination
Let me backtrack just a little …
Hi! I’m Lisa. I started my journey online in 2009. I had three daughters under three (3, 2, and a newborn) and – in spite of my exhaustion – needed a creative outlet, something that was mine, something that generated income.
I had neither the desire nor the funds to put my girls in daycare to pursue an office career so it needed to be something I could do from home when they were sleeping.
While I never thought of writing as a career, I’d always ‘written’ things – a sales letter for a boss, a newsletter for my husband’s business, college papers – and everyone always claimed they liked what I wrote. So, I decided to try my hand writing for an online publication. Much to my surprise, they PAID me! Granted, it was only $2.10, but they P-A-I-D me. All I did was type a few words into a text box and hit submit – while wearing my pajamas. My mind was blown.
Success came quickly, partially because it was the heyday of content marketing and freelance writing, but I soon found myself published in AOLTravel, Yahoo!Finance, BuzzFeed, and HuffPost. I even had an article about my 9/11 experience published on the front page of Yahoo!News.
Then, I discovered blogging, where I could write without parameters. I didn’t have to worry about slang or which style guide to use. I could use sentence fragments to make my point and, let me tell you, I LOVE intentional sentence fragments! I dove right in.
I read everything and anything I could about blogging, WordPress, and SEO. Any time I saw a word, phrase, or concept that I didn’t know, I researched it. Soon, I was in all the elite mastermind groups, was running a website telling other people about SEO (BacklinkB*tch – I still love that name!), had one of the first “invites” to Pinterest from someone who beta tested the site, and was even in a secret, never-ending group call on Skype with people who knew how to “shut down the net” – not even kidding.
I also happen to be an ‘idea generator’. I have ideas popping out of my head like a popcorn popper with the lid off. It doesn’t matter what the topic is – from real estate to cooking to hearing aids – I have ideas for marketing, branding, slogans, new products, anything and everything. My brain just doesn’t shut off. I’ve been in meetings where people just stare at me with their mouths open. They don’t understand how I can look at something from a completely different perspective and change it for the better. I think that is my ‘gift’ to the world, but that’s another story.
So, with that back story about me, you may be thinking that I make great money online … you’d be wrong. I have one huge, glaring flaw.
“Hello. My name is Lisa and I’m a procrastinator.”
I love to brainstorm an entire project, start it, imagine it … and then my passion peters off. It is very ENFP of me, but I need to fight that loss of interest, self-doubt, and procrastination if I want to succeed.
I want to share three examples of what this has cost me. These are embarrassing examples that are actually rather painful to me and only known by a few, close writing friends. (Yes. Yes, I am about to share my embarrassing moments with Suzi’s bagillion followers.)
• I was hired to write an ebook for someone as an email giveaway on her site. I’d never even thought of writing a book before. It’s actually fairly easy if you think of it as a series of articles. Suzi has a course on how to do it here.
I was nervous, though, and doubted my abilities to pull it all together. After I turned it in and was paid, I didn’t hear back from the client. Of course, I obsessed about it. Several months later, she sent me an email asking for more. You see, the ebook – the one that I thought wasn’t good enough – was so good that she decided to charge for it. She stated that it was “selling like hotcakes”.
• Another client – a well-known, female pioneer in blogging — asked me to write a series of articles about blogging and SEO. She was going to sell them to her followers as PLR to use on their own sites. After receiving the articles, she used them to teach an exclusive VIP course instead.
• Just recently, I was looking into a course where the blog owners stated that they were the first to come up with a particular concept in late 2015. Unbeknownst to them, I owned a site in 2013-2013 that did the very same thing. I let the website lapse because I lost interest. They are now making over 100k on this idea.
The underlying theme is that I don’t trust myself and then procrastinate about things. If I had just stuck it out and blogged on a regular schedule at any one of my amazing ideas, I would be the one claiming success and not others.
I tell you this not to whine or feel sorry for myself. I’m not a woulda-coulda-shoulda person. Rather, I do it to set an example of what NOT to do – LOL!
I know I cannot be the only out there who procrastinates. Suzi gives you so many tools to be successful. You just need to actually USE them and FOLLOW THROUGH! My children are now fairly self-sufficient tweens/teens and I am – gulp – 13 months away from turning the big 5-0!! I don’t want to kick myself for not following thru any longer! And, I don’t want any of you to start down my path!!
Of course, it’s easy to say: Don’t. It’s easy to tell someone: Stay Focused. Instead, I’m going to share with you the five things that I plan to do to understand my causes of procrastination, to keep me motivated, and to make sure that I stay on track. Maybe it will help another mom out there not end up frustrated with themselves ten years from now. Hopefully.
Causes of Procrastination – and how to stop it
1. Read – Discover Yourself.
I am pulling together a list of books to read. (I know finding time to read is hard with little kids. Trust me – my husband thought I needed to see a gastroenterologist when I read the first five “Game of Thrones” books because I would lock myself in the bathroom for a chapter at a time and then hide the book under the sink!)
My list is varied. I am re-reading “Fish” and “Raving Fans” because I find them inspiring and very applicable to the blogging arena where our success depends on us focusing on how we can help our readers. I am also reading classics, like “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” and “What Color is Your Parachute”, mainly because I have never read them.
Then, I plan on figuring out the causes of my procrastination by reading books on my Myers-Briggs personality type, ENFP. (If you don’t know your type, you can take an abbreviated version of the test for free here. (It’s fascinating stuff!)
What books can you read to understand and motivate yourself? Are you a procrastinator? Self-doubter? Let’s overcome!
2. Research – Become an Expert.
I have a particular topic related to my niche that I want to learn about. I plan on spending at least an hour a day learning as much as I can about it – reading articles, watching videos, taking webinars, taking lots of notes. I want to be an expert in the next three months on this particular topic.
The reason I am limiting myself to an hour a day is because it could turn into a rabbit hole. Raise your hand if you have spent hours on YouTube when you only meant to watch one 60 second video … I actually set a timer on my phone so I can sidestep that rabbit hole!
What do you want to be an expert in? Get learning!
3. Schedule – Make a List.
I may be a free-spirited creative, but I like lists. Lists with little boxes that I can check off, like this one . It gives me a weird sense of satisfaction to tick that little box. In fact, truth be told, if I do a task not on my list, I actually add it to my list only to immediately check it off. It’s ok — I own my weirdness!
I like old-school paper lists for each day, but I create (free) Trello boards online for grander plans, like monthly and yearly goals, an editorial calendar, and brainstorming future website ideas. Heck – I even use Trello to assign my two middle schoolers their homeschool work for the week. It’s pretty awesome.
While I do not have daily diaper duty any longer or countless stroller trips to the neighborhood park, I still have only a limited amount of time each day to work on my websites. Between homeschooling middle schoolers, freelance writing for clients, and general mom stuff, my time is limited to about 4 hours a day (5 to 9a.m.-ish).
I tried to break that down into chunks of time for each of my web projects – a site offering a service, a joint site in the financial niche that I share with friends, and a new project that I am working on that focuses, in a round-about way, on retirement.
Where can you find a dedicated, don’t-talk-to-mommy chunk of your day?
4. Distractions – Use Tools to Help You Stay Focused.
When I am writing, it also helps me to use the Pomodoro Technique, which suggests 20 minutes of work followed by five-minute breaks.
When my kids are chattering and I need to block out SpongeBob or the Disney Channel, I LOVE this website. I just use the free version, but the muffled voices really help me to zone in on what I am doing and tune out whining my children.
Either that or I blast the 80s music – #JustSaying.
5. Goals – Impress Your Future Self.
Personally, I am driven by the need to accomplish something career-wise before I turn 50. (Did I mention I’ll be 50 in 13 months?!) I am too talented to NOT accomplish my goals – we ALL are! Yes, YOU reading this. YOU are talented! YOU deserve success.
I wrote down my goals – monetary, house stuff, travel, reading, health/weight, AND blogs – on a Trello board with actionable steps to achieve each one, but, for the purpose of this blog post, I have one goal to share.
I am paying for my family’s first trip to Disney this November.
Me. Not my husband, ME. I am about to paraphrase a line from someone long forgotten, but >>> The November me will thank the May me!
OK – let’s wrap this up. I procrastinate. I’ve missed opportunities for HUGE success online. Don’t be like me.
But, seriously. Suzi gives you so many tools to BE successful. Can we just all get out of our heads and get it done? Whatever your hang up is – procrastination (waves hand wildly in the air), anxiety, self-doubt, inexperience, time – let’s pull ourselves up by our collective panties and get it done.
Who’s with me?
Lisa Pratto is a freelance writer and webmistress who has an abnormal love of 80s music, refuses to tolerate the use of random apostrophes, and makes one heck of a good cheesecake. While she prides herself on being a Detroiter, Lisa now resides in (very, very, very cold) northern Minnesota where she blogs about a ridiculous number of topics that fascinate her, from personal finance and retirement to maker spaces and homeschooling middle schoolers. She is also a diehard fan of Star Wars, Monty Python, and all things chocolate.