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How to Get Things Done and Beat Procrastination

Woman in front of a computer idle-minded

Being an entrepreneur and running a business tend to go hand in hand with having big ambitions. Often, in the pursuit of goals, you will be faced with roadblocks and obstacles to overcome.

If you’re reading this blog, you will almost certainly be looking for ways in which you can make or break bad habits that are currently leading to procrastination.

Lee Jackson is the host of the Agency Trailblazer Podcast and agency owner at Event Engine. He recently sat down with us to share his plan of action aimed at helping you make significant changes to your life, business, and mental health by setting a single achievable action per day.

Rest assured, you are learning from a professional procrastinator! So much so that Lee procrastinated over getting this presentation made!

A work in progress

So what has driven Lee to build this strategy. A few years back, Lee was the owner of a full-service agency. He provided everything for everyone and worked up to 18 hour days led to increased stress. Building an agency in a post-recession climate led him to agree to every job coming in, meaning he ended up letting people down by saying yes to everything. Combined with his struggles with addiction, Lee was never able to finish anything or achieve his goals.

The first step towards change was in accepting that change would take a long time.

Lee’s process involved accepting that he was a work in progress and forgiving himself for what had happened in the past. The recognition of not being “perfect” and that he would continue to make mistakes shouldn’t hold you back from starting to make change because it is never too late.

Contrary to the title of this blog, accepting that some procrastination was a good thing for him was an exercise in itself of acknowledging the past and using it to build a better future. Full disclosure, procrastination can be good for you as long as you use it as a reward. After all, our brains do need a rest sometimes!

Woman with afro in a pink background staring at a giant alarm clock

Map out what you want to achieve in life

Lee suggests taking a notebook and thinking about what your dreams are. Dreams should be a vision of where you would like to be. Take time to think about what those might be and how they would affect your life if you achieved them. It’s important to remember that a procrastinator rarely sees a dream come true, so you can use this as motivation to decide which dream you’ll be going after first.

If you need some inspiration, a few of the dreams Lee set out were:

  • Write a book
  • Launch a YouTube channel
  • Start a business
  • Move abroad
  • Break an addiction
  • Lose weight
  • Create a positive habit

Now hone in on one of these dreams that excites you. It needs to be something that has a positive impact on your life. Establish whether it would first be achievable with your skillset and second how long you would expect to wait before seeing results.

Now we get on to the fun part.

Use a streak

The idea here is to gamify your dream! By breaking anything down into small achievable actions, you can achieve it. Your aspirations are no different. These goals and milestones will give you smaller targets to target. The idea is to increment a streak by sticking to a schedule of [enter your dream here]. Now you’re project managing your happiness!

Lee implemented the streak principle to complete the first draft of his book, break a personal addiction, start practicing meditation to improve his mental health, and complete multiple reading challenges. As a self-confessed procrastinator, these successes proved a perfect testament to the notion that small achievable actions lead to a big change.

If we take a look at some of these examples and break them down into smaller parts, what might those actions look like?

  • The first draft of his book: Write 500 words per day.
  • Finish reading X number of books: Read 10 pages per day.
  • Lose weight: Take a 10-minute walk every two days.
  • Break an addiction: Track how many days you abstain

The power behind the streak lies in the monitoring. You’ll notice that as your streak starts to accumulate, your desire to retain progress and persist will increase. The best ways to monitor your progress are with a notebook, spreadsheet, or one of many tracking apps such as Daylio.

Celebrate and Reward

When you hit a milestone set for yourself, celebrate! Go ahead and be proud of it. Share your success with others, buy yourself a gift, go for a meal and even try journaling your feelings about the achievement.

Ok, rinse and repeat… keep going! You’ve got this!

Be honest with yourself

One of the trappings of modern life is in convincing ourselves we need things because we inevitably compare ourselves to others, especially on social media. Even your dreams can reflect this, sometimes not necessarily being yours. Starting down this path requires action and accountability so make sure your dreams are things you really want.

The streak is a powerful principle because it motivates you not to want to break it. And, if you do miss a day or miss out on a task, be honest with yourself. Recognize the failure and try again. There is no shame in this.

Things to remember

Remember that you are human and be wary of putting too much emphasis on your goals and dreams. You can run the risk of them becoming an addiction or experiencing complete burnout. The process needs to be attainable and enjoyable at the same time. If you think about running a marathon, you would never start by running 10 miles. Maybe you would start with one or two miles or even just a long walk. A by-product of starting your streak with small actions is that they can become enjoyable and form a part of your routine even after you’ve achieved your goal.

You can increase your accountability using apps. Strava, for example, can help you become accountable not just to yourself by setting a weekly goal but also to others by becoming part of a group.

The streak principle doesn’t just have to apply to your dreams and ambitions. It can have multiple applications like your work. Perhaps you are aiming for a promotion, and you know that assigning a few minutes extra each day to a particular task can push you in the right direction. Think outside the box!

Are you still procrastinating?

Don’t worry. Implementing streaks doesn’t wave a magic wand and stops procrastination. They instead encourage discipline and accountability to help change the mindset and approach to different tasks. Procrastination is not necessarily a bad thing as long as you can be productive and reach your goals.

And always remember small achievable actions lead to a big change!

This post was originally adapted from the September 2021 webinar How to Get Things Done and Beat Procrastination with Lee Jackson. You can watch it in the DAO community.


Charles Nicholson

Charles is a Copywriter for GoWP. He is originally from London and now living in sunny Barcelona with his girlfriend and dog. When he isn't writing amazing content to help agencies grow, he is out on one of his many bikes exploring the amazing landscapes of Catalunya and Spain, or cooking up a feast at home.

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