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Beating Procrastination: How Killing Time Kicked This Mother’s Ass

beating procrastinationMost of us are very good at putting things off. We find all sorts of excuses, some valid, but others ridiculously weak.

Sometimes we put things off because we’re afraid of rejection, uncertain of a particular procedure, or just nervous of trying something new.

Could be, you simply can’t find the time to do everything you want to.

I know of businesses, both online and offline, who collect email addresses like fairground trophies for each sale that they make. What they do with this list after the sale is… nothing… nada… zilch!

Don’t they realise that the best customer you will ever have, is an existing customer?

Although these businesses have the information on how to make their subscriber list work for them, they frequently procrastinate about starting a new marketing campaign. Or they use excuses as to why now isn’t an appropriate time to do anything.

Whatever the next step is in taking your business forward, sitting there thinking about it, will never get things moving.

I used to do just that. But not anymore! I’ve just had a bolt from the blue wake-up call which could possibly help others with beating procrastination as well…

The fine line between guidance and control

I have just put the ‘phone down after a conversation with my rather over excited son, Nathan. And I am so ashamed of myself. How could I be so hypocritical? Where did my double standards come from?

I wouldn’t call myself a pushy parent. Supportive – yes, but pushy no. In fact, perhaps if I had been more pushy Nathan would have completed his university degree years ago rather than as the mature student he is now.

You see, Nathan always wanted to study automotive design. He’s been fanatical about cars even before he could talk properly. I remember him pointing out the differences between two cars of the same model from his stroller, simply by the differences in the wheel trims.

Two years ago, he went back to university to study. He probably got sick of being advised that if he left it much longer, it would be too late to start. I’m very good at dishing out advice, particularly to my kids, but hey! That’s what parents do!

Anyway, he did it. And I am so proud of what he’s achieving. One more year to go and he’s working really hard.

Do as I say and not as I do

For his final year, he must choose his own design brief, which can be sourced from a competition, a previous curriculum design brief or one from a manufacturer. He is already planning his work for his return in September.

He attended a design festival a few weeks ago and met and chatted to several influential people, one in the automotive industry, who gave Nathan his email address so that he could arrange to visit the factory.   Yet again, I waded in with the advice.  “Make sure you contact him to ask about that factory visit”; “He’s a busy man, get in touch while he still remembers you”; “Don’t miss your opportunity”; “You have to leave your comfort zone to progress”.  All of the usual parental advice.

Don’t I sound horrible? I’m not that bad honestly. I just remember all of the chances I’ve passed up. 😉

Now, I wish that I hadn’t been waiting for others to go along with me, or had more guts to go it alone from time to time.  I just don’t want Nathan to have the same regrets.

Killing time

Nathan has a Summer job in his university town, but came home to visit this weekend and I dropped him off at the train station this morning. He’s just phoned me from London. With an hour to kill while he waited for his train connection, he’d decided to take a walk to find somewhere for a coffee.

Finding himself outside the design offices of a major car manufacturer, he “called in”, dragging suitcase and all other weekend baggage along for the ride too. Expecting to be shown the door, or at the very most, to leave his contact details, my very excited son has just phoned me to tell me about his unexpected but brief meeting with one of the designers. The designer spent ten minutes or so with him, giving Nathan the opportunity to request a design brief that he could use in his final year. The designer recalled his own student years, empathised, offered tips and in all, was so positive and helpful.

The kick up the ass

I am humbled. My son not only listened to my advice, he acted upon it. (The fact that he listened is a miracle in itself!)

The big kick was when he said “If you want people to pay attention to what you’re doing, you’ve get to get yourself known.”

So what was I procrastinating about?

Well, I kept telling myself that I would get around to contacting other blogs to ask whether they would consider accepting an article that I’ve written?

And have I done it yet? Ermm… no.

I’m always the first to encourage and support others. But I’ve personally done nothing about moving my own ass a step closer to my own goal.   How is anyone going to know that I’d like to guest post on their blog if I don’t ask? O.K, my article might not be accepted straight away, but the first step is always the biggest.

My lesson is learned. And my advice to you is please learn from it too.

Time to get your message out there

So, going back to that lovely list of email addresses that’s languishing around, doing nothing. Isn’t it time to start making it work for you?

Do you email customers to thank them for their purchase? While they’re in that buying frame of mind, this is the perfect opportunity to suggest a complimentary product to the one they’ve just bought. Just think about it, it’s what the supermarkets do by placing all of those tempting goodies near the checkout.

You could review one product per week, particularly for new stock. If you have several departments and employ staff, you could ask a member from each department to submit a short article about an item that they sell.

For example, a store selling natural and organic products (online or offline) could review the benefits of organic sun lotion one week and maybe review bamboo towels the next. They could even ask customers to complete an online survey and then publish the results as one of their weekly updates.

Your customers may not realise that you have such a diversity of goods to offer and by keeping in touch, you’ll be at the forefront of their minds when they do need to shop again.

Your call to action

Naturally every page should have a link back to the page where readers can buy the product your reviewing. Adding a list of products that your customer might like is also another good way of encouraging sales. Just take a look at what Amazon do by suggesting things you might also like. Make it easy for your customers to buy from you.

Ask and ye shall receive

From time to time you can send your list details of a promotion. If you make it time sensitive, making customers think that they’ll miss out on a good deal if they don’t act quickly works very well too. Don’t promote too often though. People don’t like to be sold to persistently.

And finally…

Just to update you, a short while after speaking to my very excited son, I have written (and sent) my query email with an idea I have for a blog post about getting out of your comfort zone to a blog I’ve been following for a while now.

Who knows, hopefully, you’re not reading this on my own blog page.

About Carolyn Stevens

Carolyn Stevens (@SianTellyou) is passionate in spreading the word about the power of internet marketing. She particularly enjoys teaching those who believe that online marketing is beyond their comprehension and ability. Carolyn publishes a free weekly newsletter sharing marketing hints, tips and strategies at Power Income Dynamo.

33 thoughts on “Beating Procrastination: How Killing Time Kicked This Mother’s Ass

  1. Hi Carolyn,
    The procrastination stage is over, I read this post on Firepole Marketing. Congratulations! Keep moving onward and upward and now you can change one of the headlines to read “Do as I say and as I do”!.
    By the way tell Nathan, Cool Car!!

  2. Carolyn! So great to see you here at Firepole!

    I find your story of your sons automotive design journey to be entertaining and eye-opening 🙂

    And also kinda funny 🙂 I’ve had similar experiences but from the opposite way.

    1. ON ASKING FOR POST OPPORTUNITIES.
    I’m gonna share my story not to downplay your wisdom and advice, because the truth of the matter is I might “do better” if I did things the way you advise.

    In my blogging career, I’ve never once pitched a guest post.*
    I repeat, I’ve never pitched a guest post, and it’s at the point now where I don’t really feel like it.

    How’s that for claim-to-fame?

    I’m always, always, always invited/asked (and sometimes nearly begged) for my writing to grace other’s blogs.

    Might it have something to do with 8 intense years of solitary writing, blogging, art, design, self-development, unhindered by jobs and family? Maybe.

    Is it a path I’d recommend to everyone? Not exactly.

    *I did have a friend forward an article of mine once, if that counts lol.

    2. ON LISTENING TO PARENTS

    “Follow your heart.”
    “You have so much potential, you shouldn’t be in a retail job.”
    “You need to be willing to work for things you want.”

    So I followed all their advice by quitting my job, dumping my girlfriend, and going on an 8 year entrepreneurial journey of EPIC proportions, including homelessness, jail, betrayal and more.

    Did my parents support it? At the start, yeah. For a while, sure. For the whole 8 years? Now it looks like it’s just Mom 😀

    3. ON CALLS TO ACTION, THANKING CUSTOMERS, ETC.

    Definitely wise moves, and one’s I use myself. I’m very big on CTAs (whatever my skill-level at them) and I thank and appreciate people more than most 😀

    At the same time…

    …There’s so many billions of tiny tidbits of tips and ‘best practices’ for marketing, it kinda seems ridiculous to me.

    Every time I read another article telling me why I’m Not Making As Much Money As I Could Be, I kind of chuckle, and think “Okay, so what single, solitary piece of advice are they gonna tell me to do more/better/at all?”

    Will it be:

    call to action, hotspots, welcome gates, surveys, email campaigns, site design, widgets, popups, pitching, products, features, launches, bonuses, upsells, cross-sells, video, audio, print, local, social, mobile, landing pages, copywriting, cost-cutting, margin-raising, joint-ventures, affiliates, soundbytes, tweetables, images, pinterest…?

    I’m pretty sure lots of successful companies actually DON’T worry or focus much on these things. I’m pretty sure I can take a breath, drop any (or perhaps all) of the above stuff and still create an empire.

    Not that I will, it doesn’t sound too fun for me.

    But… I truly wonder if Ferrari employs many of these bits, for example…

    Which is interesting, because I feel my brand is much closer to the Ferrari side of things than say… the Walmart side.

    Great post, got me sharin’ and thinkin’, and I say that looks great on any writer. Thanks so much, miss. 🙂

    • Hi Jason, I’m glad my post got you thinking.
      I think that we can all learn something from everyone elses experiences and stories. The trick is to listen. Somewhere along the line, while I was supporting everyone else, I’d lost track and stopped listening to what I was telling them. I’d stopped supporting myself.
      It’s a real credit to you that you have achieved such standing without having to pitch for guest post but I new that this had to be a natural progression for my own move forward. Nathan’s own action woke me up to realising that I had to wake up and do something and to do it immediately before I had a chance to side step the issue.
      Being a parent is the most difficult job in the world, whilst it has its deliriously joyful moments, it can have major setbacks too. Getting the balance right is really tricky, like trying neither to push too hard nor appear disinterested. The same goes with the online marketing advice, and in fact with any advice. If people ask and you offer a solution, it’s up to them to take you up and take action. You can’t do everything for them, they have to find their own path.

      • I agree, Carolyn. I love that everyone has different stories.

        You hit the nail here, with “I’d stopped supporting myself” — that’s a deal-breaker for everyone 🙂

        Following your signs + natural progression is definitely the way to go.

        Heheh… I’ve heard a lot about parenthood, but I see my business as my child anyway, and it seems to offer enough ‘challenges’ for 20 lifetimes 😀

        Cheers to finding our own paths, #ryzeUP !

        • I’ve heard lots of people say that their business is their “baby” and I used to think that like a baby, it demanded a majority of your time and effort. As it grown into and becomes more successful, I suppose that’s when you see it as a child. A little more independant but still progressing.

          Hmmm. I need to go and write more about this. You’ve got me thinking even further.
          Thanks Jason.

  3. Great tips. It seems that most people know procrastination isn’t a good thing but we are always like, ‘May be just a little more.’ And then the work we were supposed to complete tomorrow gets deferred to the next day…next week…or even next month while we spend a little bit of our time telling others to stop procrastinating. Human nature? May be it is just a stage most successful people have to go through.

    The winners are those who finally face procrastination head on (whether they are teens, in their twenties, thirties, sixties or even 90s )

    With every battle that is won against procrastination, more courage is mustered and pretty large number of people get seriously in charge of their time and life.

    You won one battle…hope you’ll win the next.

  4. Thanks for your encouragement Philos. You’re so right. It’s so much easier to convince ourselves that later is soon enough rather than face up to facts and get on with what needs to be done.

  5. Carolyn, the following sentence caught my eyes: “Now, I wish that I hadn’t been waiting for others to go along with me, or had more guts to go it alone from time to time.”, obviously because I have the same problem 🙂
    Time taught me not to shun away from it, rather “join” it – I learned to find a partner to everything and anything I do, a partner I am comfortable with – and all of a sudden, things get done…

  6. What a brilliant tip Ruth. I usually reward myself after certain goals – an afternoon painting or even a cup of coffee, but really found that asking to write a guest post was a huge obstacle for me. The odd thing is, the fact that I did it, id reward enough.

  7. Your article could not have come at a better time. I have been beating up myself for the past two weeks about not starting an online business, and my main excuse is no money to invest and the fact that I am new to how to make money online. What is most debilitating is notation that I will not suceed, so after so many years of unemployment I am still at zero and have read many articles of people who started a website a year ago and are making money. I really need good kick!

    • Hi Jen and Carolyn,
      Happy Monday and Mondays are a great time to start on a new venture. I am sending a tip to you Jen that might be the kick you are looking for. Visit my blog post Discover The SMBContest. This might just get you started.
      Carolyn, I thought you might be interested also.
      Have a great day 🙂

      • Jen I have no excuses for muddling up my reply to you yesterday. I ended up replying to it with the reply to the commenter below you. I am soo sorry.

        I just wanted to assure that a good number of successful online business have been built from nothing. In fact if you read a lot of the top people’s stories, that’s where they started out. I have a great tip (It’s simple and costs nothing). Email me if you’d like me to share it with you.

        Whatever you do, don’t give up on yourself.

  8. Hi Carolyn,

    Your story really rings true – my 16 year old daughter just worked her own way through the high school department heads, principal and guidance department on her own, to arrange to take a lot of advanced courses next year – and when they couldn’t fit physics into the schedule she arranged to take it at the local community college in the evening! I didn’t have to even pick up the phone… I guess all those years of advice actually sank in!

    So now… I need to take her example to heart and get busy on my own guest blogging for my scrapbook business!

    Thanks for sharing. Isn’t it fun when the student surpasses the master? LOL

  9. Thanks for your comment Jen.

    I hadn’t any money either when I started up this business. I’d also been unable to work for 2 years and found that the only way I was going to work again was If I worked online.

    I started my WordPress blog in February and just posted articles regularly and started to share tips through my email newsletter. I’ve only recently had a course to sell because it’s taken me a while to find something I believe in. (Offline marketing was so different to this.)

    I hit speedbumps which slow me down and at one point I completely lost my blog and had to start all over. Ultimately i know that I’m the only one who can make this work. I also know that this aint no get rich quick scheme. Be patient and true to your subscribers and your time will come.

    I wish you every sucess with your new business.

    Hi Carol,

    Kind of embarrassing when your kids show you up, isn’t it?

    I’d seen other parents push their kids into jobs they didn’t want to do, and the resulting mess that followed, so left Nathan to his own devices and just encouraged him in whatever direction he chose. He worked and even in a managerial position but it wasn’t what he truly wanted to do.
    Perhaps if I’d been less laid back about it all he’d have achieved his goal sooner. Or maybe, he wouldn’t have valued the education he’s receiving now half as much.

  10. Hi Carolyn,

    When we care about others especially the ones most close to us it’s only natural to give the best advise possible.

    When it comes to our own doings, yes we give ourselves the best advise possible but too often we feel like we can do it later. It it so easy to automatically think this way that’s why it’s most important to get out of your comfort zone and take action!
    Keep on keeping on Carolyn. Thanks for sharing,

    Terry Conti

    • Thank you so much for your encouraging words Terry. I’m enjoying reading and replying to everyone’s comments so much, I don’t think that keeping on is going to be a problem from now on.

  11. This is a great blog post. I find myself procrastinating sometimes, mainly out of fear of not being perfect – which is silly.

    But if it makes you feel any better, my parents have that same mix of being “laid back” and letting me choose my own course, and then badgering me about opportunities within my chosen path when they arise. I know I’m still a “kid” as far as entrepreneurship goes, but I’m already seeing a lot of success thanks to my parents prodding me once I chose my direction (which turned out to be internet marketing.)

    Thank you for your thoughts on procrastination, since I think most of us deal with it now and again – it’s just the situation that changes. And thanks for being an encouragement to us and your son. From experience I can say we might roll our eyes quietly and say “Yes Mom (or Dad) . . . got it. Thank you.” But we really do appreciate that you guys care. : )

    — Lindsey Rainwater

    • HI Lindsey. Isn’t perfectionism wonderful? It can produce the most outstanding results and hold you back at the same time. Sometimes we set waay to high standards for ourselves, when really if we asked folks, they like what we’ve done.

      As far as being a “kid” at entrepreneurship, we should all never stop learning. The day we do, is the day we stop caring.

  12. Carolyn,

    Congratulations on taking your own advice and stepping up to guest blogging.

    We all are subject to procrastination for many reasons, but as soon as we are aware we must get to the root of the problem and bring a halt to it. Not once, but many times.

    I especially related to your experience as a mom giving advice. With 4 adult kids, a 40-year teaching career, and now coaching clients, boy! have I doled out loads of advice. Occasionally I catch myself needing to take my own advice. When my kids are the ones to point that out to me, it pinches a bit, but I’m so glad they are willing to give me that kick when needed.

    Thank you so much for drawing the contrast between what you say and what you do. Also, congratulations to your son for taking your advice even if you were hesitant to take it for yourself.

    Now that you’re on a roll, keep it up. I’ll be looking for you.

    • I don’t know about you Flora, but when your kids offer you advice, I think its because they have taken all of your on board (even though it isn’t necessarily apparent at the time) and respect you for it. As they mature, they feel more comfortable and confident in themselves. Best of all, they see you as a friend and not just a parent and know that they can say things to you as a friend and know that it will be taken that way.

      Yes, the hardest job in the world, but the best!

      PS I’ve submitted some more requests, so please keep a look out for me.

  13. Loved the post Carolyn!!! The example of your experience with your son is a perfect illustration of so many things. Congratulations on successfully teaching your son to grab opportunities when he can and congrats to your son for learning and implementing that lesson.

    You have inspired me to get off my own ass and do the things I have been procrastinating myself – Thanks!
    Steve

    • I’m really pleased that you enjoyed the post and that it inspired you to get on a do things which you’ve been putting off yourself.
      With so many people telling me that it’s encouraged them to stop procrastinating, it is also encouragement for me not to stop at this point but to continue onto and over the next step.
      It has also been a major lesson in finding out just how supportive the blogging community is. If we all keep supporting and encouraging each other then we can all move towards our goals.

  14. great tips it seems that most people know procrastination isn’t a good thing but we are always like, ‘May be just a little more.’ And then the work we were supposed to complete tomorrow gets deferred to the next day next week…or even next month while we spend a little bit of our time telling others to stop procrastinating. Human nature? May be it is just a stage most successful people have to go through,

  15. Procrastination is an Art. The worst one!

    Not everyone is good at the art of writing, the art of drawing, the art of painting, but the art of procrastination is omnipresent. It is genetically hard-coded. In every single one of us!

    What would life be like, if everyone was a writer? It wouldn’t be bad of course, but the art, the skill would be diluted. It would be yet another thing that everyone does. Unimpressive skill.

    Procrastination is unimpressive too. It is not pushy, it is not pompous. It is sneaky and it crawls under your skin. Most people don’t even know that they are highly skilled in procrastination. There is a saying I heard some time ago : “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist”. Not going into religion here, but this is procrastination. It won’t let you know it exists. It will keep low profile. Most of us will believe that when we procrastinate, we actually plan and organize. Sneaky little thing.

    It all starts with a thought. “I wanna lose that fat, hanging off of me”. How do I do that? Let’s make a plan. Ahhhhaa! Here it comes. Let’s create a roadmap so that I know what to do. OK. Run three times a week, at least 3 miles ; swim 3 mornings before work ; no eating sugar ; no wheat. Today is not a good day to start, because this idea just popped out of my head and I need to think this through. Okay, so today is Thursday and tomorrow I have to go to all these places and not sure how all that is gonna turn out. Let’s start then on Monday. A new week, a new lifestyle. Perfect. Ha ha ha! What a moron I am. I am giving in already.

    On Monday then it dawns on me that I haven’t made a schedule. Which days to run and which days to swim? OK, let’s do that today and then I’m gonna kick this off tomorrow (the magic word). Planning, tomorrow, excuses, more planning and more tomorrow.

    It is amazingly subtle, colorless, odourless and perfectly silent. It’s an art. But war is an art too. Heard about Sun Tzu, who is the most famous for “The Art of War”? Sun Tzu said once: “All warfare is based on deception”. The only way to defeat Procrastination is by the art of war through deception.

    Forget tomorrow, live your life today. By the time tomorrow comes, you will achieve a lifetime of success.

    Excellent post. Lets defeat procrastination!

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