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7 ways brokers can beat procrastination

Feb 23, 2017

man-procrastinating-354219-edited.jpgIf you’re going to procrastinate...you may as well do it by reading this! Today, we're showing you how to kick the habit that keeps you from getting things done.

After all, so much of your success as a broker depends on your own self-motivation: it’s the force that ultimately drives all your sales. And yet, 20% of adults struggle with chronic procrastination, according to Joseph Ferrari of DePaul University.

Do you fall in that 20%? If so, we’ve got some tips that can help, inspired by psychology professor Tim Pychyl’s talk on procrastination:

1. Ask, “What am I doing to my future self?”

According to Pychyl, thinking about how procrastination sabotages your future self may help you avoid it. “In life, we’re going to run out of time,” he reminds us. "And the most precious thing we have in life is time.” Procrastination robs you of time you would otherwise have had for your health, family, friendships, and wellbeing. Ultimately, it robs you of your life. Sounds pretty grim, doesn’t it? But it’s still a good reminder that can kick you back into high gear.

2. Forget time management apps.

Procrastination is not a time management issue, so shiny new calendars and apps won’t help you with that. (And spending time researching time management apps is just another way of avoiding the work you really need to do!) According to Pychyl, procrastination is about weakness of will, but there are ways to overcome it. Willpower is like a muscle that can be worn out, he explains. So how do you squeeze out just a little more willpower when your reserves are low? Try a simple value affirmation. Ask: “Why did I decide to do this in the first place? How do I finish this?” Come back to the reason your work matters.

3. Break tasks down into actionable chunks.

Pychyl advises breaking tasks down into baby steps, which forces your brain to think about them concretely. “When you think of things concretely, they belong to today. When you think of them abstractly, they belong to tomorrow," he says. That’s because your brain interprets concrete things as urgent, but labels abstract things as “no rush."

4. Link action steps to real-world cues.

You probably find yourself doing some of the same things each day, from calling prospects to looking at property listings. Use these everyday tasks as catalysts for action by framing them like this: “In situation X, I will do behavior Y to achieve goal Z.” In other words, you could say: “The moment I get off the phone with a prospect, I’m going to add notes to the database and then follow up with some property listings, so I can keep momentum going.” This prevents you from having to stop and say, “Hmmm, this phone call is over. What should I do next?”

5. Get a quick dose of momentum.

People who swear by the Pomodoro Technique say it’s a great way to overcome procrastination and focus on simply starting a task. Here’s the premise: grab a kitchen timer, set it for 25 minutes, and dive into your work. The Pomodoro technique gets you over the hurdle of starting a task, because after all, you can do anything for 25 minutes. But the magic of it is this: once you start your 25 minutes, you often discover that you don’t want to stop! As Pychyl notes, “Making even a little progress on your goals fuels you."

6. Understand why you’re putting things off.

Did you know that the reasons you procrastinate at the beginning of a task are totally different from the reasons you procrastinate when you’re midway through a task? According to Pychyl, you’ll often avoid starting something because it isn’t personally meaningful. But you’ll avoid continuing it because there’s not enough structure. The solution? When you start something, take a moment to remember why the task matters. And when you pick up an existing project, make sure you have a clear set of action steps to follow. If you don’t, stop and take a moment to plan them out.

7. Be aware of your own self-deceptions.

We tell ourselves all sorts of things to avoid jumping into a task. How often have you found yourself saying, “Oh, I’ve only got 15 minutes now, so it’s pointless to start doing X, Y, or Z. After all, I really need a good chunk of time—preferably the whole day, even!—to do it right.” While it sounds perfectly reasonable, that’s an example of self-deceptive talk. Catch yourself in these thoughts and re-frame them. You could say, “OK, I have 15 minutes and I don’t think that’s enough time, but I could be wrong. I’m going to try and see if I can make a little progress anyway.”

Next: The psychological secrets of power brokers
Irena Ashcraft

Written by Irena Ashcraft

Irena is a freelance writer who works with innovators, educators, explorers, and changemakers. From brave nonprofits to frontier-straddling startups, she helps clients connect with their biggest fans through writing that's fresh, relatable, and fun.

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