Procrastination is a topic that lies close at heart for me, and I think many can relate. Anyone in the online marketing business would agree that there is a massive amount of distractions and impressions we get exposed to every day. It’s just so tempting to stay on social media and interact with other people instead of focusing on the important parts of your business. Or learning how Reddit works, or learning how Pinterest works, or learning about the other 1,000 tools and websites we could use to improve our businesses. It’s just too easy to get caught up and overwhelmed nowadays.
And this is particularly the case for the new warriors of online business, or even the ones who haven’t yet, but badly want to start making money from home. There are an endless amount of threads and posts that are repeating the same thing over and over again. And starting off fresh, the natural thing to do is consume as much information as possible to maximize your chances of succeeding. It’s just too hard taking action. Do you know anyone who made money from sitting around consuming information? I certainly don’t. Money can only be made from taking action.
When I first got into internet marketing, I was looking at successful people in the industry thinking to myself “how the hell can they make so much money? I am way better prepared than this guy or that guy.”
It took some time before I fully embraced the fact of how little it has to do with knowledge or smarts. You can read millions of articles about making money online, but if you don’t put yourself out there and start putting in the work, you won’t make a single dollar online. It’s Newton’s first damn law… whatever stands still tends to stay still, and that which moves tends to keep moving. You just need that small fragment of energy to start; the rest will take care of itself.
And here I am, writing yet another article for you to read. Why would you even bother? For whatever it’s worth, I am mainly writing this for my own sake – so I can have something to go back to in case I ever lose track. Though if I can give someone else a little push in the back, I’d feel great about it.
So #%!& the fear of failure, take action no matter what. Do shit before it’s too late! Time really flies when procrastinating. You are better off starting today than in 2 years when you’ve realized you just lost two years playing video games or partying. Fail a thousand times if you have to. I know people will laugh at you when you fail, people will think you are insane because you quit your job to go doing something amazing. And when you fail they will feel so satisfied saying “see? I knew it”. But who cares really? It’s not like they will pay your bills if you stay nice and quiet.
People are scared man. People are afraid that you will make it. So of course they have to mock you and do whatever it takes to keep you shackled, nobody likes change.
What are your friends going to do when you detach from the herd to go and be successful? They will keep living their lives in mediocracy and enslaved by the 9-5 system. They can’t stand the bare thought of you breaking free. This video by Gary Vaynerchuk is spot on here.
Laser focus to cut through the bullshit of everyday life
It’s a fundamental principle of nature, the more energy you concentrate on one point or one task; the more effect is outputted. Just take a look at a laser cutter, would it be able to cut steel if the beam is scattered all over the place? Or imagine if Lionel Messi focused part time on being a professional tennis player, would he have the energy to be one of the greatest soccer players in the world? Of course not, it doesn’t make any sense to think you could compete against the elite who put in 100% effort into that one thing while you invest 25% or 50% of your energy into it.
So if your focus is all over the place, I can recommend this simple exercise borrowed from Warren Buffet. Even if you try this out for one day, I’m positive you will be blown away. So grab a pen and paper and
- Write down the top 25 tasks you want to accomplish within the next seven days.
- Now circle the top 5 tasks that are most important.
The 20 tasks you didn’t circle should be avoided at all costs. You simply give them no attention whatsoever until you have accomplished your top 5 tasks.
Now let’s be real here, it’s not going to be easy to stay away from the avoid-at-all-costs-list. Those are all tasks you really care about, so it’s going to be tempting to get all over the place.
You need to be ruthless about this, really don’t touch that forbidden list until you have accomplished your five most important tasks. If you don’t have some sort of strategy or extreme discipline for staying focused, there will be a lot of temptation out there just waiting to devour your time. And if you are working from home and keep falling victim to clicking every persuasive title you see online, you’re setting yourself up to get overwhelmed and burned out sooner than you might realize. As an internet marketer, you want to be the one who persuades your target to click on your stuff, not waste your time clicking on anything you see only to be promoted a bunch of affiliate links.
It doesn’t matter how many videos you watch or how many posts you read about online marketing. One thing is for certain; nobody is going to hold your hand throughout your journey. You have probably read more than a few posts on how to make money online. Most of the advice given is outdated or lacking information. Nobody will reveal their exact niche if it’s profitable. Why would they want more competition? Because they enjoy the thrill of competing? No, you will be served the left-overs, niches they haven’t had the time trying or the ones that used to work well in the past. Then again, would a fisherman show you a pond where there is fish? He might show you a few spots where there might be fish, but revealing his spot means he is putting his survival at risk. So really, there is nothing new under the sun. No need to waste your time looking at “how I made a fortune on Amazon” videos, you already know what to do. Go get what’s yours.
Will you be tempted to open up Facebook and scroll through the timeline like a zombie? Sure you will. Will you want to launch a game and procrastinate for a couple of hours thinking you are actually accomplishing anything? Your whole soul will be screaming to do other shit than staying focused on the task you’re doing, but eventually, it gets easier.
Often we might feel too anxious about doing things we don’t like, like writing that blog post we have tried getting done for the last couple of days but never had the energy to start. Don’t listen to your mind, just push through anyway. Try this for a week and see what happens. Just push through without having your laziness or lack of motivation holding you back. What happens is you will develop mental toughness over time. After a while, you won’t have anything holding you back from doing the shit you don’t want to do but need to do.
Similarly to the Warren Buffet trick, The Ivy Lee Method is a simple and great routine for getting stuff done no matter what.
Bend reality into your favor by slowing down the perception of time
If you are like me, you don’t see the benefit in some methods or practices until you see them proven. Well, it’s a researched and known fact that mindfulness can slow down your perception of time.
Time can warp when our brain receives much more or less input than usual in a three-second span. (For example, time slows down when you are about to crash your car, but you can easily lose a whole day watching things on YouTube.) So the solution to the time-flying problem? Do more, or rather, notice more. – Carolyn Gregoire in the Huffingtonpost
Here is another interesting point by Neuroscientist David Eagleman:
The more detailed the memory, the longer the moment seems to last. “This explains why we think that time speeds up when we grow older,” Eagleman said—why childhood summers seem to go on forever, while old age slips by while we’re dozing. The more familiar the world becomes, the less information your brain writes down, and the more quickly time seems to pass. – David Eagleman in The New Yorker
So how can we bypass this taking the world for granted? It’s obvious; by being mindful. If you go through your day with a “child’s eye”, you tend to notice a lot more than you normally would. You might even notice objects or colors in your own home you never paid attention to before. Through practice, we can integrate it into our daily lives and slow down our perception of time.
Track your time
By tracking what you do, down to the very second, you will get your mind blown what you actually spend your time on. Besides, you will naturally accomplish more when you track your time. When you start getting mindful about your time, it suddenly gets too costly to browse Instagram for hours. I use toggl for this; it’s free and easy to get started with. Try it at least for a day and let me know in the comments what impact it had on you.
Split up your tasks into smaller chunks to avoid overwhelm and procrastination
It’s ridiculous how many times I’ve pushed everything aside in the past because the tasks and projects were too many to even know where to start.
James Clear shares some interesting thoughts here, which are extremely helpful to keep in mind if you are suffering by wanting to do too many things or endlessly coming up with too many ideas. He basically says that your mind is like a rose bud, you must consistently be trimming and pruning for it to thrive. If you don’t, the rose will be quick to die out.
Not too long ago, I was doing web development within the digital agency UsTwo, for one of their banking clients. After a couple of unexpected obstacles arose from third parties, there was not much time left and a lot of tasks left before we could deliver the project. Being overwhelmed with all the small chunks of work, I didn’t know where to start anymore, so I ended up feeling exhausted and unmotivated for a while. Then we did something we should have done a long time ago, arranging every single one of the tasks onto small post-it’s and pasted them up on a board split up in “To do” and “Done”. Not only was it more motivating to move the tasks to “done”, but I also cleared all my mind space that was taken up by remembering all the tasks, and knew where to start since everything was ordered by importance. Even though it might seem obvious to most professionals to organize things in this manner, this was an invaluable lesson I’ve had with me ever since. Instead of wasting resources in your mind of what’s to do, organize your to-do’s and tick them off once done.
Reframe negativity. It only distorts your perception
Depending on what type of person you are, you might or might not suffer from negative thoughts. But it’s certainly not uncommon to have your vision clouded by negativity now and then. Some people even take it as far as anticipating the worst possible scenarios in any given moment. I know because I used to be like this. It used to be some kind of defense mechanism, always being ready for the worst so it won’t hurt as much when it happens. Sure, that sort of thinking might make sense if you are in a cage full of lions, but in everyday life, it won’t ever be helpful.
Imagine continuously looping thoughts like “Ugh I’m never gonna make money”, “Why is everyone else successful but me?” or taking on any other kind of victim mentality will only be like a huge block along your path.
Stay above your negative thoughts to maintain a healthy vision of your goals. This is where meditation comes into the picture again. Apart from allowing you to slow down the perception of time to get more stuff done, it can also help you remove all focus from negativity. Or better yet, reframe limiting thoughts into positive.
The cheat code for success
It doesn’t matter in what field I’ve tried this, this small trick has given me more results than anything else. Namely running the extra mile after you’ve completed your goal.
Did you have as a goal to go out and walk for 30 minutes? Try walking 40.
Was your goal to write a 500-word article? When you are done, proofread it and add another 250 words.
Was your goal to read for 10 minutes today? Read 15.
Was your goal to get through with the design of your website? Create something timeless instead, down to the micro-details. Believe it or not, in the end, this shit really shines through.
But we don’t want to do more than we have to. Take the amount of people complaining they can’t find a job… most of them are not even trying. They send out their applications then fall into the comfort of having done their part. It’s easier to launch your PlayStation, sit back and play video games while barely hoping you get that call isn’t it? If you are half-assing your way through life, you honestly don’t deserve to be successful. There are plenty of people putting their heart and soul into this shit so it’s only fair that the lazy will remain in the low tier.
Step back a moment to think
This is a concept I picked up from Charles Ngo and it’s actually much more powerful than one might think. It’s just a simple thing as taking an undisturbed timeout every now and then to think through stuff, even if it’s just for 5 minutes. The majority of your competition fall into the belief that they are too busy to do this, which makes it even more powerful.
Here is how some of my SEO-related timeouts look like just to give you a brief idea:
What would I add to the ranking algorithm if I was Google?
How could I increase my CTR?
What could I do for my site to convert better?
You get the point. Instead of reading up on what others do, outthink them. If I’d do what all other SEOs do, if I used all the overused tactics that are written about and talked about in every single SEO article out there, how could I ever outrank my opponents? (note: I am not doing any SEO for this particular blog).
Eat or starve
If you were a man in a village a couple hundred years ago, would you go out and kill a lion so your wife and children could eat and survive, or would you keep searching for more knowledge on how perfect your preparation before you put yourself out there?
Hmm, I wonder which angle I should attack the lion from?
Wonder if I need to wear any particular shoes when hunting?
What will others think of me if my execution isn’t perfect?
Tell you what, the others don’t give a living “¤!# about you, someone else will go get it if you don’t. Your execution will never be perfect, this shit is messy. Your campaigns will fail, google will slam your sites and you might have to start all over again. The highs and lows will be nasty. Though there is a reward at the end of the tunnel. So just throw yourself out there and have some faith. You don’t need more knowledge than you already possess, you are ready.