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Defeating Procrastination: Become a Finisher

Analysis paralysis is just one of my procrastination challenges. A couple of other things have caused me to have to make an effort with my productivity. See if they are familiar to you and your own productivity issues:

  1. I have a compulsion to fix things
  2. I never think I have done enough

Do you have the same problems?

The mission here is to go from someone who is never happy with their work, never quite complete, to being someone who finishes and moves on.

I have managed it (with a great deal of effort on occasion), and so can you.

My big ah-ha moment came when I realized what I was seeing when I looked at my work, and how I felt about what I produced. Listen to your inner voice, what do you hear?

  • That could be better
  • Something is still missing
  • This should really be HD and better lit
  • I could polish that a bit more
  • My design skills are lame
  • Ebooks should have more pages than this
  • Will anyone understand my accent?
  • If I had that software I could add a neat effect there
  • Graphics would really spice up this page

… and on and on …

Essentially I would only see what was missing, think about the problems I have with it, or tell myself it is still not good enough … all excuses, and not really thinking about if the end customer/reader/viewer would get value.

I know I will never be Shakespeare. My customers do not expect Hollywood-style wizz-bang special effects. You just want some useful content. Why beat yourself up when you know perfection is not just impossible, but unneccessary?

Rather than see faults, look at what is there.

Perhaps it is because I started out as an IT-geek, a Mr Fixit of the computer world, I see the world as broken systems that I have to fix. My brain is wired to see the problems rather than the good. Instead of feeling pleasure in accomplishments, my neurons get tangled over what I perceive as missing.

This can be a good thing of course, we all know people who are the other way round and who deliver too early, bodge and fudge, and who really ought to take more care. But that doesn’t help us “perfection seekers” so we need some coping mechanishms πŸ™‚

The key is focusing on delivery rather than endlessly polishing. Get version one done and delivered. You can always release a version 2, 3, or whatever. But your priority should be to get the first complete and out of the door.

How to Become a Finisher

  1. Set yourself achievable goals – Some people are motivated by stretch goals, but if you are the sort of person who would take the instruction to “reach for the stars” literally and start planning your trip to NASA, perhaps a more realistic goal is in order. Also, remember, don’t try to eat the whole elephant in one gulp. Break the project or challenge down into chewable bite sized pieces.
  2. Decide what the finished end product will look like before you start – If your tasks are presented as “get better at sports”, “get fitter” or “learn to cook”, how on earth will you know when you are done? You can always get better, learn more, be more. Decide how you will know when you are done. Make tasks that are “done or not done”, a tick in a box. When your tasks are complete … stop.
  3. Focus on delivering – What is the basic feature set your product MUST have? Just do that. How can you complete the project in the most simple, pragmatic way? Do that. My last project was to release a new product. I decided it was not complete until someone had bought it because otherwise I could have written a whole ebook and not released it. By saying someone had to have bought it that meant I knew I needed a buy button, a sales page, and needed to let people know it was there. I also put a deadline on it to stop me endlessly polishing. This meant in the end I launched it without a logo or any of the other aesthetic niceities that I would have endlessly fussed over. So far a couple of hundred people have bought it and enjoyed it. Nobody has complained about the lack of logo πŸ™‚
  4. Make progress and celebrate it – We often get into a gold medal mentality where there is only a winner and a whole bunch of losers. Sorry but that is just rubbish. So what if your product launch didn’t raise a million dollars? So what if so-and-so has a gajillion RSS subscribers and you don’t. Celebrate the one customer you have. Celebrate the 100 people who want to hear from you. Then set your next goal. Be proud of the achievments you do create rather than sad that you are not living up to some fake ideal.
  5. Fail. A lot. – Someone once said something along the lines of “show me someone who has made no mistakes and I will show you someone who has never achieved much”. Getting things done owes a lot to being prepared to fail, making progress every day. Rather than aiming to achieve perfection one time, decide to learn so you can make steady improvements. This is why I have avoided any new years resolutions. Instead I am setting daily goals and ticking them off. Each time I do something I am aiming to do it better than the last time. Not perfect, better. Make mistakes. Improve, learn from your mistakes. Make more mistakes.

Got any more tips for becoming a finisher? Please share in the comments …

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Comments

  1. You have an accent?! πŸ™‚

    One thing that always helps (most people) is accountability. Having friends (or co-workers/boss) that know your goals, plans, action items helps because you have others pushing you along or even helping you when you want to keep ‘polishing’ …

  2. You have an accent?! πŸ™‚

    One thing that always helps (most people) is accountability. Having friends (or co-workers/boss) that know your goals, plans, action items helps because you have others pushing you along or even helping you when you want to keep ‘polishing’ …

  3. I am, of course, reading this because I’m procrastinating about doing something else…

    This is a great tip about looking to see what’s there, not what’s missing.

    I’ve noticed there are particular types of task I procrastinate about, and for me, it’s around fear. For example I’m fearful about money admin (I know that sounds pathetic!). So every year I’m late with my tax returns, I delay sending invoices to clients, I leave my bank statements unchecked and loads of other things. Realising that there’s a pattern to this and exploring the reasons has helped. So has getting more organised – investing in proper filing cabinets at home, even a decent stapler makes a difference!

  4. I can so relate to all of this. What I’ve found to work for me is to focus on #3, delivering. You can always tweak things after you’ve gotten feedback, especially if you’re releasing a product.

    I’ve found that it is almost better to produce an incomplete product and have beta testers than try to perfect it, because in reality you do not really know what people want, so you could end up wasting a lot of time on something that you think is perfect that nobody really needs πŸ˜‰

  5. I am, of course, reading this because I’m procrastinating about doing something else…

    This is a great tip about looking to see what’s there, not what’s missing.

    I’ve noticed there are particular types of task I procrastinate about, and for me, it’s around fear. For example I’m fearful about money admin (I know that sounds pathetic!). So every year I’m late with my tax returns, I delay sending invoices to clients, I leave my bank statements unchecked and loads of other things. Realising that there’s a pattern to this and exploring the reasons has helped. So has getting more organised – investing in proper filing cabinets at home, even a decent stapler makes a difference!

  6. I can so relate to all of this. What I’ve found to work for me is to focus on #3, delivering. You can always tweak things after you’ve gotten feedback, especially if you’re releasing a product.

    I’ve found that it is almost better to produce an incomplete product and have beta testers than try to perfect it, because in reality you do not really know what people want, so you could end up wasting a lot of time on something that you think is perfect that nobody really needs πŸ˜‰

  7. Chris- You are spot on here. One of the concepts now running though my head is not “I have to work on this a bit more” but “Did you get the job done?” or “I know you are busy, but did you get the job accomplished?” It was an ‘A-Ha” moment for me when I heard this during a seminar. But I think sometimes procrastination also a product of how much we care about the product and the job we love. We just want it to be the best it can be.

  8. Chris- You are spot on here. One of the concepts now running though my head is not “I have to work on this a bit more” but “Did you get the job done?” or “I know you are busy, but did you get the job accomplished?” It was an ‘A-Ha” moment for me when I heard this during a seminar. But I think sometimes procrastination also a product of how much we care about the product and the job we love. We just want it to be the best it can be.

  9. AS an SEO, I’m a polisher by nature. I have the inner feeling that everything needs to be optimized, improved, etc. So, I don’t get the feeling of satisfaction because something is nice.

    But then, I find myself killing a remarkable amount of time on doing one single thing that could be my version 1.0. However, certain things are of such high priority that I cannot simply leave the rest of it to the version 2.0. For instance, once a potential customer asks for some consultation or I feel I must explain in more details to attract him.

    So, I’ve realized that making a list of prioritized tasks to do for every week and feeling obliged to do them all is a good way of avoiding procrastination at doing my works.

  10. AS an SEO, I’m a polisher by nature. I have the inner feeling that everything needs to be optimized, improved, etc. So, I don’t get the feeling of satisfaction because something is nice.

    But then, I find myself killing a remarkable amount of time on doing one single thing that could be my version 1.0. However, certain things are of such high priority that I cannot simply leave the rest of it to the version 2.0. For instance, once a potential customer asks for some consultation or I feel I must explain in more details to attract him.

    So, I’ve realized that making a list of prioritized tasks to do for every week and feeling obliged to do them all is a good way of avoiding procrastination at doing my works.

  11. Chris,

    Are you psychic or what? I beat myself up over this everyday. I knew all those things in your list, but I needed to hear them again.

    I read a book a while ago where one of the characters was a Japanese artist. He said “I never finish a painting, I just abandon it.” (something like that).

    I try to keep those words in mind when my inner perfectionist tries to take over.

    Great stuff, thanks for sharing. Oh yes, I understand your accent just fine.

    -Bob

  12. Chris,

    Are you psychic or what? I beat myself up over this everyday. I knew all those things in your list, but I needed to hear them again.

    I read a book a while ago where one of the characters was a Japanese artist. He said “I never finish a painting, I just abandon it.” (something like that).

    I try to keep those words in mind when my inner perfectionist tries to take over.

    Great stuff, thanks for sharing. Oh yes, I understand your accent just fine.

    -Bob

  13. OMG I don’t have a gravatar. I think I just put a favicon on my new personal site. I shouldn’t reply to this I am not complete. I have several websites which one to I put on here. I do have a Scottish accent and people don’t understand me, sometimes. My kitchen walls have been half painted since May 2008 can’t invite anyone over. I am working on a new logo and just added it,and don’t like it so not published yet!
    Publish and be dammed that’s what I am going to do today. After I clean up the clutter around here and set achievable goals. Thank you my friend, I thought you were perfect. I guess there are no perfect diamonds… Thank you for posting this I needed this to start my day.

  14. OMG I don’t have a gravatar. I think I just put a favicon on my new personal site. I shouldn’t reply to this I am not complete. I have several websites which one to I put on here. I do have a Scottish accent and people don’t understand me, sometimes. My kitchen walls have been half painted since May 2008 can’t invite anyone over. I am working on a new logo and just added it,and don’t like it so not published yet!
    Publish and be dammed that’s what I am going to do today. After I clean up the clutter around here and set achievable goals. Thank you my friend, I thought you were perfect. I guess there are no perfect diamonds… Thank you for posting this I needed this to start my day.

  15. Kate Robins says:

    This is great. Thanks. Mozart once said something like (and I’d Google this to get it exactly right but with all due respect to accuracy, etc. I’ve got to just submit this and get out of here) a piece is done when it can’t be made any better. I suppose that made for squeaky clean masterpieces and unfinished symphonies. Even the unfinished work lives on.

  16. This is great. Thanks. Mozart once said something like (and I’d Google this to get it exactly right but with all due respect to accuracy, etc. I’ve got to just submit this and get out of here) a piece is done when it can’t be made any better. I suppose that made for squeaky clean masterpieces and unfinished symphonies. Even the unfinished work lives on.

  17. Seeing “what’s wrong” is a bit part of human nature! I have decided to celebrate the little successes along the way and stop to pat myself on the back as a way of overcoming that voice.

    Good to know I am not the only one who hears voices πŸ™‚

  18. Seeing “what’s wrong” is a bit part of human nature! I have decided to celebrate the little successes along the way and stop to pat myself on the back as a way of overcoming that voice.

    Good to know I am not the only one who hears voices πŸ™‚

  19. I find that working on too many things at one time – or getting distracted and sidetracked – really hinders my ability to finish things up so I’ve found these two things help me with this

    – I try to focus on one project at a time to completion

    – I keep it in front of me in what ever form possible – daily time blocks on my white board calendar, major tasks on my BIG to do white board, an index card on a picture holder on my desk with my ‘one thing’ as well as what ever benefit I am hoping to achieve from completing it.

    I like what Tess and Frank said about fear and accountability, both are big factors for me too.

    I also like what you said about seeing what’s there rather than what’s wrong. Nothing is perfect – sometimes speed of execution (my new buzzword for 2010) is more important than a few dotted i’s .

  20. I find that working on too many things at one time – or getting distracted and sidetracked – really hinders my ability to finish things up so I’ve found these two things help me with this

    – I try to focus on one project at a time to completion

    – I keep it in front of me in what ever form possible – daily time blocks on my white board calendar, major tasks on my BIG to do white board, an index card on a picture holder on my desk with my ‘one thing’ as well as what ever benefit I am hoping to achieve from completing it.

    I like what Tess and Frank said about fear and accountability, both are big factors for me too.

    I also like what you said about seeing what’s there rather than what’s wrong. Nothing is perfect – sometimes speed of execution (my new buzzword for 2010) is more important than a few dotted i’s .

  21. @frank – Accountability works very well. A friend and I started doing daily accountability calls, then emails, now we both submit daily accountability posts to a private blog πŸ™‚

    @Tess – I do the same thing with invoices. There is a company (an accountancy firm of all things) who have not paid me for MONTHS and I keep putting off chasing them!

    @Henri – Exactly, when you involve your actual customers rather than try to guess you improve faster too πŸ™‚

    @Cathlyn – Yeah I think sometimes we care too much, or rather too much about the wrong things?

    @Rahman – Any kind of optimizer can get too much into the habit of optimizing I think πŸ˜‰

    @Bob – Thanks about the accent thing, and great quote about the artist. Sometimes it does feel like we are abandoning art, but by abandoning it we are allowed to move on to the next masterpiece πŸ˜‰

    @hilarypc – Ha, there is always something isn’t there? πŸ™‚

    @Kate – Thing about artists is they often had benefactors or starved to death. We don’t really have either as viable options πŸ˜‰

    @Diane – I guess we have to push against our nature? πŸ™‚

    @Jan – Yes having the CURRENT project sat right in our face mocking us helps to get things done. Sometimes we feel productive because we are working, without remembering we actually have to make progress to really be productive πŸ™‚

  22. @frank – Accountability works very well. A friend and I started doing daily accountability calls, then emails, now we both submit daily accountability posts to a private blog πŸ™‚

    @Tess – I do the same thing with invoices. There is a company (an accountancy firm of all things) who have not paid me for MONTHS and I keep putting off chasing them!

    @Henri – Exactly, when you involve your actual customers rather than try to guess you improve faster too πŸ™‚

    @Cathlyn – Yeah I think sometimes we care too much, or rather too much about the wrong things?

    @Rahman – Any kind of optimizer can get too much into the habit of optimizing I think πŸ˜‰

    @Bob – Thanks about the accent thing, and great quote about the artist. Sometimes it does feel like we are abandoning art, but by abandoning it we are allowed to move on to the next masterpiece πŸ˜‰

    @hilarypc – Ha, there is always something isn’t there? πŸ™‚

    @Kate – Thing about artists is they often had benefactors or starved to death. We don’t really have either as viable options πŸ˜‰

    @Diane – I guess we have to push against our nature? πŸ™‚

    @Jan – Yes having the CURRENT project sat right in our face mocking us helps to get things done. Sometimes we feel productive because we are working, without remembering we actually have to make progress to really be productive πŸ™‚

  23. Mocking us? I like that! I hadn’t thought of it that way. But that kind of makes it a challenge.

    Challenges are another thing that works very well for me – better if there are other people involved but it also works because there is usually a solid time boundary, a reward of some kind (usually in the form of what the achievement brings but also a small ‘gift to self’ for following through.) and often it’s broken down into manageable pieces. And it just seems to pick up the energy and make it more fun.

    I will never look at my ‘current project’ in the same light again!

  24. Mocking us? I like that! I hadn’t thought of it that way. But that kind of makes it a challenge.

    Challenges are another thing that works very well for me – better if there are other people involved but it also works because there is usually a solid time boundary, a reward of some kind (usually in the form of what the achievement brings but also a small ‘gift to self’ for following through.) and often it’s broken down into manageable pieces. And it just seems to pick up the energy and make it more fun.

    I will never look at my ‘current project’ in the same light again!

  25. yeah i fall into the perfectionist camp, never good enough. thanks for the post, good to know that i’m not alone.

  26. yeah i fall into the perfectionist camp, never good enough. thanks for the post, good to know that i’m not alone.

  27. Great post, Chris. Reminds me of an old Tom Peters tidbit where he talked about “fail forward fast.” Basically success [using the R&D model] comes from short, iterative cycles where you test, assess and correct for the next round. Good reminder for helping kick-start the new year.

  28. Great post, Chris. Reminds me of an old Tom Peters tidbit where he talked about “fail forward fast.” Basically success [using the R&D model] comes from short, iterative cycles where you test, assess and correct for the next round. Good reminder for helping kick-start the new year.

  29. I definitely agree with all of these. What a great post because I have had a lot of challenges with procrastination in the past. I’ve been working on creating a product to sell and just yesterday I started thinking about it with the end in mind and got more done than in the past 3 weeks.

  30. I definitely agree with all of these. What a great post because I have had a lot of challenges with procrastination in the past. I’ve been working on creating a product to sell and just yesterday I started thinking about it with the end in mind and got more done than in the past 3 weeks.

  31. Chris, I’ve actually been sat here mulling this when your mail came through.

    I’m trying to create a Flash magazine of all the best content of our blog over the year and it’s taken me 6 months – to get nowhere!

    I keep finding ways to block progress when I should just focus on delivering, get something it and refine the next version.

    This is brought home to me every time I come across a hideous looking blog that has hundreds of thousands of subscribers, it’s the content and passion that really counts.

    Yet another kick up the arse, keep them coming!

  32. Chris, I’ve actually been sat here mulling this when your mail came through.

    I’m trying to create a Flash magazine of all the best content of our blog over the year and it’s taken me 6 months – to get nowhere!

    I keep finding ways to block progress when I should just focus on delivering, get something it and refine the next version.

    This is brought home to me every time I come across a hideous looking blog that has hundreds of thousands of subscribers, it’s the content and passion that really counts.

    Yet another kick up the arse, keep them coming!

  33. Here’s a tip for people having problems setting achievable goals: figure what you *think* is achievable… then cut that in half.

    Especially if it’s something new you’re doing.

  34. Here’s a tip for people having problems setting achievable goals: figure what you *think* is achievable… then cut that in half.

    Especially if it’s something new you’re doing.

  35. I came to the blog because of your tweet, “Are you a starter or do you finish too?” which I have since retweeted.

    Although I do finish a lot, I am a starter by nature. My strengths make me good at the beginning of projects, and I like to focus my work there, leaving the project completion details to people whose strengths match that.

    But I also have students–writing students–who procrastinate all the time. Worrying about the quality (“Is this good enough?”) is one writer’s block. I’ve got to send them to read this so they can get over it already. πŸ˜‰

  36. I came to the blog because of your tweet, “Are you a starter or do you finish too?” which I have since retweeted.

    Although I do finish a lot, I am a starter by nature. My strengths make me good at the beginning of projects, and I like to focus my work there, leaving the project completion details to people whose strengths match that.

    But I also have students–writing students–who procrastinate all the time. Worrying about the quality (“Is this good enough?”) is one writer’s block. I’ve got to send them to read this so they can get over it already. πŸ˜‰

  37. I am a Prolific fire starter, but I tend to get bored & distracted which results in pressing the “Publish” button long before something is finished. It nearly happened again with this comment. It’s weird, just lost commitment and doubted the value of it.

    The thing is with work, most thoughts will have value to people. Its finding a way to communicate that in a way that is easy to swallow and helpful. Chris Brogan is the master.

    A key thing I’d add to this article is not beat yourself up. These things take time. You can throw up a blog redesign in 2 hours if you have a backlog of content. Making it something that people use is a dayjob though.

  38. I am a Prolific fire starter, but I tend to get bored & distracted which results in pressing the “Publish” button long before something is finished. It nearly happened again with this comment. It’s weird, just lost commitment and doubted the value of it.

    The thing is with work, most thoughts will have value to people. Its finding a way to communicate that in a way that is easy to swallow and helpful. Chris Brogan is the master.

    A key thing I’d add to this article is not beat yourself up. These things take time. You can throw up a blog redesign in 2 hours if you have a backlog of content. Making it something that people use is a dayjob though.

  39. This post has certainly inspired me, Chris. Thanks! I also wrote on my blog, referring to this post – http://www.jeetblog.com/chris-garrett-struggles-with-procrastination-too/ πŸ™‚

  40. This post has certainly inspired me, Chris. Thanks! I also wrote on my blog, referring to this post – http://www.jeetblog.com/chris-garrett-struggles-with-procrastination-too/ πŸ™‚

  41. To avoid procrastination I have a list of ‘key’ priorities and then plan to accomplish them during set times that are most productive for me. Two or three key things at a time at most, finish those before moving onto the next. Being able to delegate key tasks also helps greatly (assuming you have the staff or help to do this).

  42. To avoid procrastination I have a list of ‘key’ priorities and then plan to accomplish them during set times that are most productive for me. Two or three key things at a time at most, finish those before moving onto the next. Being able to delegate key tasks also helps greatly (assuming you have the staff or help to do this).

  43. Melissa O'Connor says:

    I’m always looking at my work thinking that it could be better and I’m missing something. I beat myself up all the time about this. I always thought it was just me. Glad to hear others are like me. I’m going to try to step back and focus on the good now and be happy with my work. πŸ™‚ But bad habits are hard to break. πŸ™‚

    Thanks for the article!

  44. I’m always looking at my work thinking that it could be better and I’m missing something. I beat myself up all the time about this. I always thought it was just me. Glad to hear others are like me. I’m going to try to step back and focus on the good now and be happy with my work. πŸ™‚ But bad habits are hard to break. πŸ™‚

    Thanks for the article!

  45. I’ll start out quote Bill Murray in the brilliant movie ‘What About Bob’; “Baby step to four o’clock. Baby step to four o’clock.”

    I will add your suggestions here to my Social Media Strategy 2010.. Soon I will have to stop reading more articles like this, cause I just keep adding stuff to my plan. And soon I get myself in trouble with my time schedule.

    Accountability is one of my top priorities for 2010.

    I noticed Frank started out commenting you have an accent… maybe I should use my accent for my inner voice.. Because I have observed how much attention people pay to me when they get me talking.. what if I can use that to my own advantage… and pay the same attention to my self.. hmmmm sounds like a cool concept for 2010..

    Cheers.. Are

  46. I’ll start out quote Bill Murray in the brilliant movie ‘What About Bob’; “Baby step to four o’clock. Baby step to four o’clock.”

    I will add your suggestions here to my Social Media Strategy 2010.. Soon I will have to stop reading more articles like this, cause I just keep adding stuff to my plan. And soon I get myself in trouble with my time schedule.

    Accountability is one of my top priorities for 2010.

    I noticed Frank started out commenting you have an accent… maybe I should use my accent for my inner voice.. Because I have observed how much attention people pay to me when they get me talking.. what if I can use that to my own advantage… and pay the same attention to my self.. hmmmm sounds like a cool concept for 2010..

    Cheers.. Are

  47. One thing I would add for those of us who are quick starters is to limit yourself to three big projects at a time. Starting more than that inevitably results in loss of momentum, which leads to procrastination. By choosing just three projects and envisioning the final result (in terms of specific, achievable goals) you can actually build momentum with each small step.

  48. One thing I would add for those of us who are quick starters is to limit yourself to three big projects at a time. Starting more than that inevitably results in loss of momentum, which leads to procrastination. By choosing just three projects and envisioning the final result (in terms of specific, achievable goals) you can actually build momentum with each small step.

  49. Funny that you mention it. I never thought that I did have this problem, but now I think I do. I always beat myself up for not being good enough.

    However, my reasoning is that I could do much better! I mean how can you really get over that? Is it to say that I should stop trying to become better? This is the part that I am having difficulty with.

    One solution that you offer is to think if this is going to add value to the customer, but how in the world would you know that? I can understand if this is a business setting you could directly ask them customer and see what they say.

    However, how would you deal with this when you are writing a blog? When is the point when you are just writing for yourself without additional value to the reader? That is the tough part for me.

    That is why I just say that it is better to over do it than under do it.

    Tough…maybe I will get it one day…

  50. Funny that you mention it. I never thought that I did have this problem, but now I think I do. I always beat myself up for not being good enough.

    However, my reasoning is that I could do much better! I mean how can you really get over that? Is it to say that I should stop trying to become better? This is the part that I am having difficulty with.

    One solution that you offer is to think if this is going to add value to the customer, but how in the world would you know that? I can understand if this is a business setting you could directly ask them customer and see what they say.

    However, how would you deal with this when you are writing a blog? When is the point when you are just writing for yourself without additional value to the reader? That is the tough part for me.

    That is why I just say that it is better to over do it than under do it.

    Tough…maybe I will get it one day…

  51. This is so me and I have to stop insisting on getting everything set or perfect before I hit publish. Like others above, I almost didn’t reply because I don’t have my “real” website done!

    I’ve been doing a little bit of everything – or a lot of nothing for over two years and going broke. I really like your idea #3 where you set a goal of someone buying your product rather than you perfecting everything around it.

    Now, if I could only pick the perfect place to live, I could do my imperfect work. πŸ™‚

  52. This is so me and I have to stop insisting on getting everything set or perfect before I hit publish. Like others above, I almost didn’t reply because I don’t have my “real” website done!

    I’ve been doing a little bit of everything – or a lot of nothing for over two years and going broke. I really like your idea #3 where you set a goal of someone buying your product rather than you perfecting everything around it.

    Now, if I could only pick the perfect place to live, I could do my imperfect work. πŸ™‚

  53. I’ve still got projects and tasks unfinished from years ago, that will never get done now. If only I had delivered them. The 80/20 rule comes into play of course, but we have a tendency to assume that we will get to the magic 100 and in a reasonable time, when generally 90 is often good enough.

  54. I’ve still got projects and tasks unfinished from years ago, that will never get done now. If only I had delivered them. The 80/20 rule comes into play of course, but we have a tendency to assume that we will get to the magic 100 and in a reasonable time, when generally 90 is often good enough.

  55. As a teacher, I prepare a lesson to the best of my ability within the time frame allowed, teach it, and then revise it for the next time I teach it based upon the questions asked, the comments given, and its ability to prepare the student for the test. I have some lessons that have not been revised for years and others that are revised almost every time I teach it.

    My problem is that I don’t actually do the revision until the week before I teach it again. It’s a good thing I make notes after each presentation.

  56. As a teacher, I prepare a lesson to the best of my ability within the time frame allowed, teach it, and then revise it for the next time I teach it based upon the questions asked, the comments given, and its ability to prepare the student for the test. I have some lessons that have not been revised for years and others that are revised almost every time I teach it.

    My problem is that I don’t actually do the revision until the week before I teach it again. It’s a good thing I make notes after each presentation.

  57. I needed this inspiration. Chris, your article has come on right time. Thanks a lot.

  58. I needed this inspiration. Chris, your article has come on right time. Thanks a lot.

  59. All of these steps are important, but if I had to empahsize one key point from this article it would be STEP 3. I sometimes consider procrastination as a selfish act becasue all of us possess incredible value that could potentially help people in a profound way, but when we procrastinate the offering of this value, we are not fulfilling our duty of contibution. Therefore, the question I would like to pose is the following:

    Is it better to do 95% of something or nothing at all?

    People can only digest about 10% of what they learn over their lives and it is my belief that the 5% that might be undone would also be unnoticed…

    GREAT MESSAGE and very timely for all of the New Year Resolutioners…

  60. All of these steps are important, but if I had to empahsize one key point from this article it would be STEP 3. I sometimes consider procrastination as a selfish act becasue all of us possess incredible value that could potentially help people in a profound way, but when we procrastinate the offering of this value, we are not fulfilling our duty of contibution. Therefore, the question I would like to pose is the following:

    Is it better to do 95% of something or nothing at all?

    People can only digest about 10% of what they learn over their lives and it is my belief that the 5% that might be undone would also be unnoticed…

    GREAT MESSAGE and very timely for all of the New Year Resolutioners…

  61. Hey Chris,

    Great post and site. As the Queen of procrastination myself, I realize after much search, that procrastination comes down to two things i) being able to see the big picture so much so, that any minor task becomes overwhelming with possibilities and ii) the resulting fear of never addressing all the areas. As a final resort I am attempting to re-frame my thinking through neural reconditioning especially with regards to things which cause me the most panic e.g. Even though I have X limitations/fear, I choose to let go of that feeling and will now have a positive relationship towards it. Sort of a cross between EFT and the sedona method in an affirmation. For all your specific concerns, personalize this and repeat a lot:)Just started, let’s see how it goes!:)Good luck to you.

  62. Hey Chris,

    Great post and site. As the Queen of procrastination myself, I realize after much search, that procrastination comes down to two things i) being able to see the big picture so much so, that any minor task becomes overwhelming with possibilities and ii) the resulting fear of never addressing all the areas. As a final resort I am attempting to re-frame my thinking through neural reconditioning especially with regards to things which cause me the most panic e.g. Even though I have X limitations/fear, I choose to let go of that feeling and will now have a positive relationship towards it. Sort of a cross between EFT and the sedona method in an affirmation. For all your specific concerns, personalize this and repeat a lot:)Just started, let’s see how it goes!:)Good luck to you.

  63. Everytime I read one of your posts, i can hear chef Robert Irvine from “Dinner: Impossible” πŸ™‚
    Your comments are spot on – look at what you’ve accomplished; reflect but don’t dwell on the negatives. I’ve come to this point of view the hard way.

    As an artist & composer, I constantly deal with, “Is it done?” Songs can be brutally open-ended, if you sit on them too long.
    I struggled with your dilemma as well. After I released an album (on itunes, tunecore, amazon etc) that virtually no one bought, I battled negativity for almost a year. I had it in my head that if no one bought it, then i was a failure.
    Finally i got out of my head & appreciated if for what it was: a first effort. One just doesn’t stop there!

    Keep going, re-evaluate, set new goals, don’t give up, be flexible & read Chris Garret πŸ™‚

    Cheers

  64. Everytime I read one of your posts, i can hear chef Robert Irvine from “Dinner: Impossible” πŸ™‚
    Your comments are spot on – look at what you’ve accomplished; reflect but don’t dwell on the negatives. I’ve come to this point of view the hard way.

    As an artist & composer, I constantly deal with, “Is it done?” Songs can be brutally open-ended, if you sit on them too long.
    I struggled with your dilemma as well. After I released an album (on itunes, tunecore, amazon etc) that virtually no one bought, I battled negativity for almost a year. I had it in my head that if no one bought it, then i was a failure.
    Finally i got out of my head & appreciated if for what it was: a first effort. One just doesn’t stop there!

    Keep going, re-evaluate, set new goals, don’t give up, be flexible & read Chris Garret πŸ™‚

    Cheers

  65. @Jan – Challenges have come in handy for me too πŸ™‚

    @mikeo – Join the support group, the coffee is warm πŸ˜‰

    @Jeff – I like that quote, good one

    @Adam – And it feels great when you make progress doesn’t it?

    @Dylan – As a developer I learned to recognise when I was “gold plating” but strangely it took me a while to recognise it in other things πŸ™‚

    @Dave – Great tip!

    @Eric – Great πŸ™‚ I remember my students would always play with their assignments right up to the moment where it was pass or fail time!

    @Simon – Chris Brogan is the master and with all the flying he does I imagine he has LOTS of random thought time!

    @Abhijeet – Thanks for the link πŸ™‚

    @Kyle – Priorities are essential, and especially remembering that other people’s priorities don’t take precedence over yours

    @Melissa – Such a shame that good habits go away easy but bad ones stick around, eh?

    @Are – Accountability can work very well if you are motivated/afraid of other people. For some people it doesn’t work at all because they are self motivated.

    @Molly – Yeah I have to do one personal project at a time because client work and family stuff takes up so much. If I try to juggle too much I drop too many balls πŸ™‚

    @Tomas – A blog post is done when it makes the point that you set out to explain. Your readers will tell you in page views, retweets and comments when they liked it. If you miss the mark, explain it a different way in a new post πŸ™‚

    @Debra – I have picked the perfect place to live, I just have to handle all the logistics and family issues now πŸ˜‰

    @Richard – It can be hard for perfectionists to get the idea of “good enough” but we have to try!

    @dseibold – We can always improve, I think problems come when we make improving the whole job rather than delivering πŸ™‚

    @Yusuf – Thanks for reading πŸ™‚

    @Jared – Exactly, as I said a little while ago, we owe it to the world to share what we know

    @Haya – My wife is a fan of EFT, I will have to mention it

    @Stuart – My brother is a musician and he has had to learn the hard way that creating and performing are only two of the many jobs he has taken on – he has to be a marketeer, promoter, project manager … πŸ™‚

  66. @Jan – Challenges have come in handy for me too πŸ™‚

    @mikeo – Join the support group, the coffee is warm πŸ˜‰

    @Jeff – I like that quote, good one

    @Adam – And it feels great when you make progress doesn’t it?

    @Dylan – As a developer I learned to recognise when I was “gold plating” but strangely it took me a while to recognise it in other things πŸ™‚

    @Dave – Great tip!

    @Eric – Great πŸ™‚ I remember my students would always play with their assignments right up to the moment where it was pass or fail time!

    @Simon – Chris Brogan is the master and with all the flying he does I imagine he has LOTS of random thought time!

    @Abhijeet – Thanks for the link πŸ™‚

    @Kyle – Priorities are essential, and especially remembering that other people’s priorities don’t take precedence over yours

    @Melissa – Such a shame that good habits go away easy but bad ones stick around, eh?

    @Are – Accountability can work very well if you are motivated/afraid of other people. For some people it doesn’t work at all because they are self motivated.

    @Molly – Yeah I have to do one personal project at a time because client work and family stuff takes up so much. If I try to juggle too much I drop too many balls πŸ™‚

    @Tomas – A blog post is done when it makes the point that you set out to explain. Your readers will tell you in page views, retweets and comments when they liked it. If you miss the mark, explain it a different way in a new post πŸ™‚

    @Debra – I have picked the perfect place to live, I just have to handle all the logistics and family issues now πŸ˜‰

    @Richard – It can be hard for perfectionists to get the idea of “good enough” but we have to try!

    @dseibold – We can always improve, I think problems come when we make improving the whole job rather than delivering πŸ™‚

    @Yusuf – Thanks for reading πŸ™‚

    @Jared – Exactly, as I said a little while ago, we owe it to the world to share what we know

    @Haya – My wife is a fan of EFT, I will have to mention it

    @Stuart – My brother is a musician and he has had to learn the hard way that creating and performing are only two of the many jobs he has taken on – he has to be a marketeer, promoter, project manager … πŸ™‚

  67. Good stuff Chris – tips that I definitely need for the coming year!

  68. Good stuff Chris – tips that I definitely need for the coming year!

  69. I’ve suffered from analysis paralysis and trying to make things perfect a lot in the past. I spent way longer than I should building Squareleaf.net – but after a while I realized that I’d done enough even though it wasn’t perfect. It’s been out there for a month now and has 700+ sign-ups and people are using it – it’s not perfect and it’s not finished, there’s still many features to add. But just by getting it out there I took a massive step and took a weight off of my shoulders – it’s not perfect, but it’s OK and people are liking it.

    I’d already decided that it’s my goal in 2010 to just put stuff out there and see how it goes. If the article/webapp/whatever you produce is good enough then people get past the lack of perfection.

    Nice to see you back blogging!

  70. I’ve suffered from analysis paralysis and trying to make things perfect a lot in the past. I spent way longer than I should building Squareleaf.net – but after a while I realized that I’d done enough even though it wasn’t perfect. It’s been out there for a month now and has 700+ sign-ups and people are using it – it’s not perfect and it’s not finished, there’s still many features to add. But just by getting it out there I took a massive step and took a weight off of my shoulders – it’s not perfect, but it’s OK and people are liking it.

    I’d already decided that it’s my goal in 2010 to just put stuff out there and see how it goes. If the article/webapp/whatever you produce is good enough then people get past the lack of perfection.

    Nice to see you back blogging!

  71. Thank you for this opportunity to respond to your message.
    I was just thinking this morning that I have made mistakes in composing Bible Scripture Psalmistyle Music because I have been impetuous. You know when you jump rope you must jump in or stand there for a year waiting for the right time to jump in. So I jump in and sometimes in composing I feel that I have recorded so soon that I wished I would have changed it this way or that way, but now its done. The longer you work on something you can change it over and over and make it worse. So the best thing I could say is do it anyway and if you don’t like it that much you can just do it again and replace it. Don’t worry about it, just do it! That is what I got from your message and I like that. A person could fuss about it all year and not do it at all. Look at this Bible Scripture which I believe fits: Mark 15:16 And he said unto them, Go ye into the world and preach the gospel to every creature. What part of Go Ye don’t we understand. Just do it!

  72. Thank you for this opportunity to respond to your message.
    I was just thinking this morning that I have made mistakes in composing Bible Scripture Psalmistyle Music because I have been impetuous. You know when you jump rope you must jump in or stand there for a year waiting for the right time to jump in. So I jump in and sometimes in composing I feel that I have recorded so soon that I wished I would have changed it this way or that way, but now its done. The longer you work on something you can change it over and over and make it worse. So the best thing I could say is do it anyway and if you don’t like it that much you can just do it again and replace it. Don’t worry about it, just do it! That is what I got from your message and I like that. A person could fuss about it all year and not do it at all. Look at this Bible Scripture which I believe fits: Mark 15:16 And he said unto them, Go ye into the world and preach the gospel to every creature. What part of Go Ye don’t we understand. Just do it!

  73. Great tips, Chris. Thank you.

    Perfectionism is a great tool for striving toward producing quality goods, but as you said, it can be a terrible time-waster. That is why we should learn to moderate perfectionism so that we can hop over the fence that is hindering us from advancing toward our goal.

    Nike’s slogan is brilliant, because that is what it usually comes down to. Just hit ‘Publish’. Just release that report you’ve been trying to make perfect for the past three weeks. Just register that domain name. Just put yourself out there. Just do it!

    Perfectionism is capable of bringing as equally bad repercussions as procrastination, so we must beware of becoming its tool.

  74. Great tips, Chris. Thank you.

    Perfectionism is a great tool for striving toward producing quality goods, but as you said, it can be a terrible time-waster. That is why we should learn to moderate perfectionism so that we can hop over the fence that is hindering us from advancing toward our goal.

    Nike’s slogan is brilliant, because that is what it usually comes down to. Just hit ‘Publish’. Just release that report you’ve been trying to make perfect for the past three weeks. Just register that domain name. Just put yourself out there. Just do it!

    Perfectionism is capable of bringing as equally bad repercussions as procrastination, so we must beware of becoming its tool.

  75. We procrastinate because we are looking for perfection. As the CEO of my former company said, “Let’s look for the 70% solution.” He was right because you’ll never achieve perfect.

  76. We procrastinate because we are looking for perfection. As the CEO of my former company said, “Let’s look for the 70% solution.” He was right because you’ll never achieve perfect.

  77. I’ll get on this tomorrow. πŸ™‚

    One thing I’ve learned: “business” problems are never business problems. At their root, they’re always personal problems.

  78. I’ll get on this tomorrow. πŸ™‚

    One thing I’ve learned: “business” problems are never business problems. At their root, they’re always personal problems.

  79. I think my biggest problem would be that I would finish something then already realise that I was behind with the next task that I wanted to started and then you begin to feel negative and don’t ever get around to sitting back taking stock of what you have achieved because you have already moved on – great post and I am definitely going to take it on board thanks

  80. I think my biggest problem would be that I would finish something then already realise that I was behind with the next task that I wanted to started and then you begin to feel negative and don’t ever get around to sitting back taking stock of what you have achieved because you have already moved on – great post and I am definitely going to take it on board thanks

  81. Great post chris, or you can also fool yourself into procrastinating into the things that need to be done. It’s a trick that works for me…sometimes! πŸ™‚

  82. Great post chris, or you can also fool yourself into procrastinating into the things that need to be done. It’s a trick that works for me…sometimes! πŸ™‚

  83. Hey there Chris,

    It was an awesome post to overcome my main problems. Which is PROCRASTINATION. I find that I’m into perfection and thats makes me unfinished all my jobs.

    I will take your advice to overcome it. Thanks a lot. πŸ™‚

  84. Hey there Chris,

    It was an awesome post to overcome my main problems. Which is PROCRASTINATION. I find that I’m into perfection and thats makes me unfinished all my jobs.

    I will take your advice to overcome it. Thanks a lot. πŸ™‚

  85. Great Tips, especially the last point in your list is important.

  86. Great Tips, especially the last point in your list is important.

  87. Yeah am I procrastinator and boy have a failed many times.. I truly enjoyed this post.

  88. Yeah am I procrastinator and boy have a failed many times.. I truly enjoyed this post.

  89. I definitely fall into never thinking I have done enough or that the end product is good enough. I think it’s call perfectionism.

    I really have to force myself to just stop and move on to the next project. Also, working too long on a project often times makes me very tired resulting in changes that probably would have been better left unchanged.

  90. I definitely fall into never thinking I have done enough or that the end product is good enough. I think it’s call perfectionism.

    I really have to force myself to just stop and move on to the next project. Also, working too long on a project often times makes me very tired resulting in changes that probably would have been better left unchanged.

  91. Chris,

    Great post, and one that is sorely needed. Not finishing is a major problem for creative people, and it’s a painful one. I wrote an e-book to help people finish projects – Cross the Finish Line: Overcome the Hurdles to Completion because this is such an issue with my clients and many creative types.

    I particularly like your list of the voices that clamor for attention when you’re trying to finish. For me, the week before launch is a bit hellish, with all the details that must be covered plus that nagging voice making me think that if every single thing isn’t absolutely perfect, I’m going to be boiled in a vat of hot oil and then strung up before my audience to be further tortured. (One must bring some humor to this – it’s one of the ways to keep going despite that voice!)

    One thing that I have found helps my clients is to get a sense of what will be different when they complete. We’re so accustomed to our self-identification with not finishing that we often can’t imagine what it will be like when we actually do complete something. Stepping over the line in our minds can give us a sense of what awaits us. The carrot rather than the stick.

    I think perfection has little to do with thorough professionalism and everything to do with trying to overcome that ‘not good enough’ critic. We never seem to have a concise and specific metric for perfection, and as such it’s an ever-elusive ideal zone we’ll never get to, much less enjoy. I challenge clients to articulate their standard for excellence and then to drive toward that rather than some vague and impossible-t-meet standard of perfect.

    Great post for the new year. I hope it inspires people to complete things so they get the sense of satisfaction that waits on the other side.

  92. Chris,

    Great post, and one that is sorely needed. Not finishing is a major problem for creative people, and it’s a painful one. I wrote an e-book to help people finish projects – Cross the Finish Line: Overcome the Hurdles to Completion because this is such an issue with my clients and many creative types.

    I particularly like your list of the voices that clamor for attention when you’re trying to finish. For me, the week before launch is a bit hellish, with all the details that must be covered plus that nagging voice making me think that if every single thing isn’t absolutely perfect, I’m going to be boiled in a vat of hot oil and then strung up before my audience to be further tortured. (One must bring some humor to this – it’s one of the ways to keep going despite that voice!)

    One thing that I have found helps my clients is to get a sense of what will be different when they complete. We’re so accustomed to our self-identification with not finishing that we often can’t imagine what it will be like when we actually do complete something. Stepping over the line in our minds can give us a sense of what awaits us. The carrot rather than the stick.

    I think perfection has little to do with thorough professionalism and everything to do with trying to overcome that ‘not good enough’ critic. We never seem to have a concise and specific metric for perfection, and as such it’s an ever-elusive ideal zone we’ll never get to, much less enjoy. I challenge clients to articulate their standard for excellence and then to drive toward that rather than some vague and impossible-t-meet standard of perfect.

    Great post for the new year. I hope it inspires people to complete things so they get the sense of satisfaction that waits on the other side.

  93. Perfection is one hard thing to achieve no matter how hard one tries. Sometimes i feel that its just a waste of time trying to become perfect. So, all my focus now concentrates on delivering good content to read.

  94. Perfection is one hard thing to achieve no matter how hard one tries. Sometimes i feel that its just a waste of time trying to become perfect. So, all my focus now concentrates on delivering good content to read.

  95. Great post, Chris! Your point about if the end user would get value was an a-ha moment for me.

    I’ve been working on a project for months, well, more like procrastinating for months. I haven’t even outlined the curriculum yet because I’m not sure how to frame the theoretical [or whatever it is] part, even though I could write the practical part in my sleep. And that practical part would likely be of the most value to the members.

    I don’t even have a fancy logo for the project! πŸ˜‰ Seeing that the big guys can launch without a logo is relief and no longer a reason not to proceed.

    Ok, Monday morning is the time to outline the 12-13 lessons. Anyone want to hold me to that?

  96. Great post, Chris! Your point about if the end user would get value was an a-ha moment for me.

    I’ve been working on a project for months, well, more like procrastinating for months. I haven’t even outlined the curriculum yet because I’m not sure how to frame the theoretical [or whatever it is] part, even though I could write the practical part in my sleep. And that practical part would likely be of the most value to the members.

    I don’t even have a fancy logo for the project! πŸ˜‰ Seeing that the big guys can launch without a logo is relief and no longer a reason not to proceed.

    Ok, Monday morning is the time to outline the 12-13 lessons. Anyone want to hold me to that?

  97. I think “Balance” is also a key word here. Juggling work for clients and building your business. Blogging takes a lot of time and effor to build and grow but even if you’re getting contacts and work in you still need to keep it going.

    That’s the thing about content marketing. You have to generate the content and keep it going.

  98. I think “Balance” is also a key word here. Juggling work for clients and building your business. Blogging takes a lot of time and effor to build and grow but even if you’re getting contacts and work in you still need to keep it going.

    That’s the thing about content marketing. You have to generate the content and keep it going.

  99. Chris, great post and great advice! In my opinion, it’s important to enjoy the “getting to” almost as much as you enjoy “getting the result” For me at least multi-tasking equals frustration so I don’t do it, not because I can’t but because I’m wired not to enjoy it. I used to beat myself up over this, but I now realise that I am most effective when I focus on one task at a time. Cheers, Niall

  100. Chris, great post and great advice! In my opinion, it’s important to enjoy the “getting to” almost as much as you enjoy “getting the result” For me at least multi-tasking equals frustration so I don’t do it, not because I can’t but because I’m wired not to enjoy it. I used to beat myself up over this, but I now realise that I am most effective when I focus on one task at a time. Cheers, Niall

  101. Chris,

    You have captured so eloquently what research is learning about procrastination! This is the stuff that entrepreneurs waste their time with. Not because they want to waste their time. It just feels that if you just tweak one thing a little more, it will be perfect and then everything else will be perfect. It can feel like you are doing something productive. Like you pointed out, it’s important to stop focusing entirely on what is not adequate. Celebrate what you’re doing well and this will enable you to choose when to trust your judgement and when something deserves a 2nd look.

  102. Chris,

    You have captured so eloquently what research is learning about procrastination! This is the stuff that entrepreneurs waste their time with. Not because they want to waste their time. It just feels that if you just tweak one thing a little more, it will be perfect and then everything else will be perfect. It can feel like you are doing something productive. Like you pointed out, it’s important to stop focusing entirely on what is not adequate. Celebrate what you’re doing well and this will enable you to choose when to trust your judgement and when something deserves a 2nd look.

  103. I am having trouble with procrastination. I am good at starting things but most of the time, I end up producing mediocre results as a result of procrastination. Your article is really helpful because this year I have planned to get serious about my blog and I believe procrastination is one of those many obstacles that I must deal with

  104. I am having trouble with procrastination. I am good at starting things but most of the time, I end up producing mediocre results as a result of procrastination. Your article is really helpful because this year I have planned to get serious about my blog and I believe procrastination is one of those many obstacles that I must deal with