Business Management

The 6-Step Program to Overcome Your Procrastination Problem (Starting With Admitting It!)

Expertise: Personal Development, Real Estate Investing Basics, Landlording & Rental Properties, Real Estate News & Commentary, Business Management, Real Estate Marketing, Mortgages & Creative Financing
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Ah, procrastination. It’s a big issue for at least 20 percent 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.

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Procrastination is missing out on an 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 the 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:

Related: 4 Steps to Supercharge Your Productivity With Scrum Project Management

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 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 emails 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.

Related: 9 Tips for Working More Productively in Real Estate While Holding Down a 9-5

Start Small

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.

Practice Positivity

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.

Investors: How do YOU avoid putting off those big tasks you don’t feel like tackling?

Let me know with a comment!

Chris Clothier began building his rental portfolio in 2003 as a successful entrepreneur looking to diversify his investments. He quickly gravitated toward passive investing, establishing a portfoli...
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    Alex Craig Real Estate Professional from Memphis, TN
    Replied over 4 years ago
    Good article. I find myself procrastinating at task that I don’t like to do, I have been meaning to work on that.
    Chris Clothier Rental Property Investor from memphis, TN
    Replied over 4 years ago
    Alex, The best way I have found to cure that problem is to fire myself from those tasks! Hire someone for part-time or full-time even as a personal or business assistant. As an entrepreneur, I am quite sure, like me, you can find plenty for someone to do once you start making a list of all the things you don’t like doing. Thanks for taking the time to read and leave your comments. All the best – Chris
    Rob Hayes Real Estate Broker from Downers Grove, IL
    Replied over 4 years ago
    Thanks for writing the article Chris! As a life long procrastinator, I can really appreciate an article on this topic. What I find that helps me is writing down a list in the morning of all of the tasks that I need to accomplish that day. By putting it in writing it seems to make it easier for me to commit to accomplishing the tasks. If I find myself procrastinating more so on a particular task, I will give myself a suitable reward for completing the task. What’s amazing is that time after time, I feel so good after I’ve completed the tasks that I had been procrastinating…I don’t know why I was procrastinating in the first place. For the record, I had been putting off replying to this article…. -Rob from Illinois
    Chris Clothier Rental Property Investor from memphis, TN
    Replied over 4 years ago
    Great comments Rob! Thanks for taking time to leave them. Your suggestion is a good one and I am sure some readers will take you up on your advice. All the best – Chris
    Eyan Lakhani Wholesaler from San Antonio, Texas
    Replied over 4 years ago
    Excellent blog. As a beginner, the first point hit me right in the head. Its over whelming. The distraction part is very notable as well. Thank you for pointing it out 🙂
    Kevin Izquierdo from Hillside, New Jersey
    Replied over 4 years ago
    Really well written article. I think the goal setting is definitely a personal preferance. It really depends on the person in question and in turn, they must know themselves. Grant Cardone’s 10x rule says the opposite of this article. I personally like the 10x rule where if you dream big and aim for the moon, even if you dont reach it, you’ll still be among the stars 🙂 Thanks for sharing !
    Tyisha G. from Long Island, New York
    Replied over 4 years ago
    Really enjoyed this article. Thanks for sharing!
    Jerry W. Investor from Thermopolis, Wyoming
    Replied over 4 years ago
    One way I have sometimes dealt with my horrible procrastination is by picking out a job to do I hate or dread even worse than the one I originally planned to do. Then I will grab the less dreaded one and say I will do this first. Great article by the way. The what do you do to distract yourself part suddenly made sense to me.
    Marcia Maynard Investor from Vancouver, WA
    Replied over 4 years ago
    Strategies I find helpful: MIND MAPPING. I have a template I use that has one circle in the middle and four lines going outward connecting this to four more circles, each of those connect to three more circles. I capture my interrelated thoughts in the circles. It helps me define what I am going to focus on, including the goals and the steps required to complete the task. TWO HOUR BLOCKS. I will choose a task and dedicate two hours to it. Often I get on a roll and don’t want to stop, but at the 2-hour mark I take a break to refresh my mind and body. This helps productivity. Dedicating myself to work during a specific time frame boots me into action. Once started, momentum follows. Before you know it, the job is done! BUDGET: TIME, LABOR, MONEY. Major projects require keen planning. Prior to starting them I strive to define the scope, set the timeline, identify who will be working with me and get their commitment, and gather the necessary funds/materials. When I just jump in, I tend to waste more time doing unnecessary things, make more trips to the store, spend more money, and the right person for the job may not be available. SUNNY DAYS & RAINY DAYS. I live in the Pacific Northwest and we can have stretches of sunny days and stretches of rainy days, or a smattering of daily changes in the weather. If I make a list of sunny day tasks and a list of rainy day tasks, then I can plan to do whichever optimizes my ability to get the job done as it relates to the weather. I watch the weather report to plan out my week and I coordinate my tasks to match. INSPIRATIONAL PHRASES: “Begin With The End In Mind.” “Under Promise & Over Deliver”. “Finish More Projects Than You Start Today!”