How to Change “Procrastination” to “Proactivity”
Procrastination - it’s a practice that many of us find all too familiar. When that task that we just don’t want to do is looming, we suddenly develop a talent for finding something else - anything else - to do instead, despite knowing the consequences. Why is it that we procrastinate at all, and on a related note, how can we stop (especially where our marketing is concerned)?
Why Do We Procrastinate?
There are numerous factors that contribute to procrastination, which all combine differently in each person to create a personal perfect storm. Personal standards are often partly to blame, as someone who tends to be a perfectionist will procrastinate out of fear of failure. After all, you can’t make a mistake on something if you never do it, right?
Someone else might procrastinate a complex and convoluted task because they just don’t want to do the requisite legwork, while another just may not know where to begin on their laundry list of tasks and just winds up going in circles as a result. Many fall victim to the classic form of procrastination: distractions.
“I wonder if there’s anything new up on Facebook?”
“What’s appeared in the break room fridge since I last checked?”
“Do computers still come with Minesweeper preinstalled?”
Of course, some procrastination isn’t always a bad thing. Not only can it help motivate you into efficiency during crunch time, it gives you more time to develop your ideas and come up with new, potentially better ones. It is arguably also beneficial to the preparation process needed to embrace new responsibilities. Who hasn’t heard of someone taking a “mental health day,” after all?
However, regardless of the benefits that procrastination may offer, it certainly doesn’t mix with at least one activity: your marketing.
Why Procrastination and Marketing Don’t Mix
To illustrate why your marketing isn’t something that can be procrastinated without adverse effects, it may help to examine the nature of marketing itself.
At its core, marketing is dependent on extended, consistent efforts that gradually become more effective as time goes on, small changes and corrections made here and there to optimize it. This includes adding new ideas as you go, as well as resetting and starting over when an initiative underperforms.
The key to any of these efforts being successful is time. Any marketing needs time to be taken in by your audience before it can take root and grow into action. Therefore, if you procrastinate in your marketing, you’re only putting yourself further behind and giving an advantage to your competitors.
How to Avoid Marketing Procrastination
Fortunately, there are plenty of methods that you can leverage to help avoid procrastination, especially if you’re naturally prone to it.
- Plan Ahead: Instead of just saying that “it’ll happen,” set a timeline to follow with your marketing. This will give you a concrete plan to commit to and a schedule to help keep you accountable.
- Bring Consequences and Rewards into the Present: Unfortunately, the hunter-gatherer lifestyle of early humankind didn’t instill an appreciation for the long-term effects of our actions. That’s why it’s easy to ignore the bathroom scale in the future as you bite into a candy bar now, and (more pertinent to our topic) why the future effects of marketing aren’t enough to motivate us to put in effort now. To counter this temptation to procrastinate, it helps to bring the rewards of marketing - and the consequences of not marketing - from the future to the now. Split up your efforts (more on this in a moment) to create more pressing deadlines, and pay closer attention to the micro-benefits and costs instead of focusing exclusively on the macro. While some of these may seem to be inconsequential in the grand scheme of your strategy, you need to remember that marketing is a cumulative process, therefore, everything matters.
- Make it Easier to Actually Start: Admittedly, marketing can be a daunting task, the sheer volume of considerations, decisions, and responsibilities stacking up into a mountain that may feel like it can never be climbed. This is why we recommend that, again, you subdivide your responsibilities to make them more manageable. Start small, with more achievable tasks and goals that will help you gain momentum and motivation. You can also help build motivation by starting with tasks that see a return more quickly, proving that your efforts are worth it. Of course, you also shouldn’t forget to reward yourself when you reach particular milestones in your marketing, providing you with an added nudge to keep driving forward.
- Make it Enjoyable: When was the last time you willfully put off something that was fun? If you find a part of your marketing responsibilities particularly engaging to work on, make sure that piece hits your schedule. That way, in order to make those efforts effective, you have to make sure the other things are done as well, which when possible you can delegate to your team.
- Work Smarter: Of course, you also have to consider that you have other responsibilities to see to other than your marketing as well, which means that you’ll need to balance those with what you need to do in order to be marketing properly. A big part of this is scheduling your time better. Consider what you will need to accomplish and what you need to do - are there additional resources that you need to access? If so, schedule yourself to work on that particular goal at a time that you will have access to these resources. Save those tasks that you can effectively do at any time for those times that you won’t be able to access resources as easily. You need to also audit the time you are spending doing other things and consider if they are necessary. Will you have anything to discuss at the weekly meeting on Thursday? If a week’s agenda is particularly sparse, cancel the meeting, share any information in an email to the team, and spend the remaining time saved accomplishing a goal. You essentially want to eliminate any excuse you have to focus on something else.
- Stick to a Strategy: One of the most effective tools against procrastination is accountability. Being expected to accomplish something within a certain timeframe cranks up the pressure to deliver much more than saying that something can be done “whenever.” This is why establishing a set marketing strategy is so effective at eliminating procrastination. Not only are your efforts and goals organized and mapped out, you have a schedule to follow, adding a bit of motivation to actually do it.
“It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare, it is because we do not dare that they are difficult.” - Lucius Annaeus Seneca
Fighting Procrastination with Proactivity
If you need any help with your marketing, whether its with creating a strategy, producing marketing materials, or anything else, you can lean on us. We’d be happy to help you out. Check out our services for more information, and to get started!