How To Beat Procrastination When You Don’t Know What To Do Next

By Leevi Romanik
31 Comments

This is part one of a two part series where I want to address some of the common issues that are faced by many Internet marketers. This article will focus on an obstacle I feel is stopping many people from getting started with Internet marketing. The second article will focus on proper business strategies for an online business.

A growing part of my work is private consulting where I help other people with the “sticking points” of developing and growing a profitable online business. The common issues that I help people with are many of the topics I have shared with you here previously such as market research, narrowing your niche and creating a USP. Other areas I commonly help with can include developing customer relationships, product creation ideas, and strategizing.

Recently I had a consult with a young man and it really brought home a few of the main points where I see online marketers failing. I thought I would share the story with you.

The Story Of Tom

Tom (not his real name) is a smart person and he has been dabbling in Internet marketing for a couple of years now. He does not make near enough to quit his day job, but he is spurred on by the small returns his online ventures do make and the success stories of others he reads about. After chatting with Tom for awhile, a few issues became apparent as to why he was maybe struggling with his online efforts.

Like most people trying to make money online, Tom had immersed himself in the vast amount of knowledge available. He was constantly reading, researching and learning. We all know there is no shortage of information on the Internet and sometimes a bit of research can really lead to going down the rabbit hole, so to speak. I am all for learning and researching. But I am also all for acting upon that information and actually doing something with it.

Sound Familiar?

For example, one of Tom’s websites had very little content on it and I quizzed him why that was the case, and he told me the reason was because he wasn’t sure about what traffic source he was going to focus on. He told me he was thinking of doing some videos and putting them on video sites, he also had thought about doing some article marketing to the article directories, and lastly he was contemplating creating a Facebook fanpage. The end result? He did nothing. He just thought about what he should do or could do.

It was like Tom was suffering from a term some people joke about called “analysis paralysis” – where so much thinking is going on that nothing actually gets done. I’m certainly not saying that some thought and planning into your actions isn’t necessary, I’m saying excessive thought and planning that prevents action is not a way to build a business.

The Decision Making Rule

Successful Internet marketer Jason Fladlien is known for his expertise in time management (he is the author of Double Your Productivity for Life) and one of his key principles relates to decision making.

Jason says that the ability to make decisions is like a muscle and can be trained and strengthened. If you always labor and hesitate over decisions you have to make, then your decision making muscle will be weak. If you are assertive and take action quickly, then you will build that into your decision making ability, and you will feel comfortable and confident making quick decisions. Like anything it takes practice.

Once great principle Jason has is the 30 second decision making rule. This is something he implements to strengthen the decision making muscle. Jason does have some other rules related to business decisions but he says that this is a great way to get started on making decisions that you can use in everyday situations.

He recalls going out to lunch with some fellow Internet marketers during a seminar and how it took ten minutes to decide where to eat. Jason highlights if the 30 second rule had been applied then they would probably already have been seated at a restaurant and already ordered their meals in this time.

Break Through The Stagnation

It is much easier to correct a wrong decision once it’s made then to make the right decision in the first place.

I know the above statement sounds a little irresponsible or maybe even a bit crazy. But people often say the first step is the hardest. And sometimes that first step is just making a decision about what to do. Just make a start, it doesn’t have to be perfect.

I told Tom that he just needed to do something. The fact is all those previously mentioned traffic avenues work. Many people have had success using each of those content methods. Obviously it depends on your market, for example Facebook may not be an appropriate choice depending on your demographic. All you can do is give it a go.

Trial And Error Is A Good Thing

With regards to traffic mediums, you may find you or your audience tends to gravitate towards one of the mediums. But you will never know if you don’t try. That is what is great about an online business, there can be some trial and error involved and that is OK. And while a lot of learning can be gained from researching and reading, the best learning is actually applying the information and giving it a go.

So I told Tom that he needed to pick article marketing, video or Facebook and decide which one he was going to use (I didn’t mind if he used all three, as long as he did something!), and to make a start on getting some good quality content out. And now he could spend all the time he was researching, which was the best avenue, and dedicate that time to content creation and helping his customer base by providing them with some great information.

Just Making A Start Can Be A Relief

Well, Tom felt like a weight had been lifted off his shoulders. He told me later that the decision had been weighing him down. And it can. Decisions can go around and around in our head and wear us out. However, once we make a choice it can relieve a lot of that anxiety and give us a sense of peace of mind.

Conclusion

There can be many obstacles to starting a successful online business. Knowing what to do can certainly be one of them. Most of us have a general idea of what we have been procrastinating on. So hopefully this article will give you some motivation to make a decision and get started on something you have been putting off.

Unfortunately, the act of not doing wasn’t the only obstacle facing my client Tom. His overall mindset and approach to his online businesses was also letting him down. But I don’t think he is the only one suffering from an ineffective online business strategy. But more about that next week.

Click here to read part two of the series

Leevi Romanik

About Leevi Romanik

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31 Comments

  • Thanks Leevi…
    I know exactly how Tom feels. Every day, downloading software, reading through forums, rejoicing over the poor 1$ adsense pays him for some clicks on a site he made 2-3 years back, in a week when he actually took action…
    Darn, wait… that’s me:|
    Keep up the simple basic articles to help procrastinators realize who’s the enemy!

    • Haha too funny!

      But yes it is painful to look back at the rewards that come from those moments of inspiration when we actually took action.

      And yes, you can never hear about procrastination too much. OK enough reading get back to work:)

  • Great Advice. procrastination can be ones worst enemy and it normally has to do with dealing with something difficult. I try to break projects down in a manageable way that I don’t get bored or overwhelmed.

  • Great article Leevi! Speaks right to the heart of the matter. My business partner and I were in ‘analysis paralysis’ for almost a year before realizing that what we were doing was not going to make us any money. Now we always use the 80-20 rule to constantly evaluate our actions (or lack thereof!) – ex. what 20% of tasks is going to make us 80% of our money.
    Getting out of the ‘analysis paralysis’ stage and taking action on what we’ve learned has shot us forward tremendously. The hard part is just getting started. Thanks again!

    • Hi Auret

      Glad you enjoyed it.

      Yes getting started is the hardest part. Often if we can get started the rest is downhill.

      Leevi

  • It is a numbers game it is guaranteed that without failure you won’t achieve success so go out and fail as much as you can because if you fail and learn from your mistakes success will come and don’t be sorry about failing, everybody fails, if you want to be successful it is your job as entrepreneur to get up as quickly as possible and proceed in the right direction. Analysis paralysis can be the pretty bad thing for you, I have lost a ton of time and money because I haven’t done anything but trying to decide should I do this or that… If you can get yourself to take action it is the big step, just do it, like NIKE says.

    • Hi Dimitri

      Yeah isn’t there that great saying along the lines of it’s not how many times you get knocked down it is how many times you get up.

      Most of the successful entrepreneurs have stories of failed business ventures that they grew and learned tremendously from and that helped them achieve the success they experience currently.

      Leevi

  • Yes, this article is also about me…….need to follow up……30 seconds seems a bit quick though, but I get the message, Loud & Clear!

  • Leevi i think it is apparent that in this day and age we have so many choices; and it can become overwhelming sometimes.

    Too many choices can lead to procrastination. I fount that if I limit my resources to a few, I can get things done. There are a plethora of SEO optimization sites, I keep track of 4 of them, Yaro’s being one of them.

    Tony

    • Yes good idea Tony, with the potential for information overload and no filter it is good to set your own filter.

      I also am pretty strict with which websites I choose to read and get my information from.

      Leevi

  • While the choices can be overwhelming, it is true that just taking the first step is a good start and that often sets in motion a lot more activity (which just leads to more overwhelming decisions). Alternatively, you can just set up a schedule to do a bit of everything daily – it’s better than not doing anything at all.

    • Good point Ana, I tell my daughters to just get their blogs started because one thing leads to another. My daughter Amber started with a music blog and that evolved into an entertainment and events blog. Sometimes you never know where it will lead you; you just have to get out there and do it.

      The filtering Leevi spoke of is about staying on course and focused.

      Thanks for the input.

  • I totally agree. And can identify with! Lol. There seem to be sooo many different things to get started with and it is very overwhelming.

  • I’ve been accused of making decisions too quickly, and I always respond with “we can change it if we need to, but getting started is much harder than changing course.”

  • To me, breaking the big thing into small easy-to-approach steps will instantly give a thing for me to work on. It is easy for me to break the ice when I start with a really small and an easy task. However if it is a complicated and boring task, even though I exactly know what to do, I will keep procrastinating :)

    Great post, by the way.

    • Thanks Jane, glad you enjoyed it.

      Yes the interest level in a task does play a role in procrastination.

      Leevi

  • Ann

    Tom needs Google Analytics, all the info you need and FREE

  • Procrastination is one of the major problems of bloggers. It is really important to beat this attitude so time can be maximized and used efficiently.

  • Too many choices does lead to paralysis and indecision. Often even when I convince myself I am taking action it is not focused action or one action does not build on a previous one. Leads to a very zig zag journey and much longer than necessary route, too often even taking me further from my desired results.

  • Writer’s block and procrastination are the two common problems of bloggers like us. I admit it that I always do procrastination and my solution for that problem is to think of the amount of profit I am losing whenever I put the works on delay.

    • Hi Jhelo

      Great tip.

      We all know there are only 2 reasons why we do things in life: to gain pleasure and avoid pain. Out of the two, pain avoidance ranks as a stronger motivator.

      So using the pain of missed profits is a good motivator.

      Leevi

  • Very true indeed! The key here is to keep yourself motivated to beat procrastination. If you’re into business, you need to keep the cash flowing so don’t keep putting off the things you can do for the moment.

    • Hey John

      So true. If you are in that positive, ready-to-go state of motivation then work is a lot easier, often better quality and time flies.

      So finding what motivates or drives you is key to overcoming the procrastination hurdle.

  • This is so true, most people are just thinking what they should do to succeed in internet marketing and at the end they are doing nothing.

  • Leevi,

    It is interesting you brought this up…I do a lot of cold calling and walk into new businesses everyday to sell Direct Marketing…I have fallen in love with getting outside my comfort zone and doing this..I have found a pattern in life and that is when you can make your body take action on a task that is difficult, you will grow. Most people are stuck in the analytic mindset and can’t take action because they want everything to be perfect..This is why I hate using a sales script or trying to make my prospecting approach perfect….Most success in life is from “just showing up”..As you keep taking action and making mistakes, you can make adjustments along the way and learn….

    One thing I have found helpful is being the “watcher” of your ego and thoughts. We have to learn how to fall in love with fear and be really aware of how we feel..Business can be tough when you have to deal with multiple things at once but when you can be the watcher of your thoughts you will be able to take steps that will get you ahead quick..

    Thanks for the post:))

  • This post really resonates with me. It’s because I too suffer from choice fatigue. Sometimes all the noise in my head about Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, YouTube video posting etc can make my eyes gloss over and leave me looking like a zombie on the couch.

    Dare I said it, I even get what I call ‘twitter guilt’. This is where I haven’t tweeted in days and convince myself my followers will be feeling despondent and slightly miffed with me for not checking in with 140 characters.

    Then I wake up to myself.

    Leevi, I agree with what you’re saying here. Take action on something.. and whatever you do, don’t spend hours asking what if?

    Take a lesson from Nike and Just Do It! (as long as doing it, is not thinking about what to do…oh god…here I go again….)

    Great post :)

    Dan

  • Great article Leevi, I really related to this as I sometimes am definitely guilty of over-thinking the project. Even little things like post ideas, or widget placements.

    “I am all for learning and researching. But I am also all for acting upon that information and actually doing something with it”.
    Thanks very much.

    – Rory

  • analysis – paralysis, awe-some article Leevi.
    it is not only true what you wrote, but also a reminder again and again,
    that every business module need not to be so ‘perfect’ to begin with.
    with trial and error, one can iron out the mistake and move from strength to strength.

    thanks leevi.. all well said. this article indeed, motivating.

  • Yes Leevi,

    That’s exactly what a lot of people do, ‘Waiting for Some Day’
    For example how many times do you hear people say, this or that is such an incredible story, I could write a Book about it.

    ‘Why don’t they just do it…?’

    Not that I never procrastinate myself, I do think that there need to be a ballance between Analysis Paralyses and Impulsiveness Some time ago on my Home Business Book-ideas Blog I wrote about a book with Success Law’s one of the Laws was also about - Starting –
    With that post I already made a Start with writing a Book Review without even having read the whole book yet! I wrote it already because I am so enthousiastic about this book.

    O.K. that might have been a little Impulsive of me, actually the whole – Home Business Book-ideas Blog - has been a rather Impulsive idea because I don’t really have any experience with writing Book Reviews :)

    All the Best,
    To your Happy - Home Business – Inspiration,
    HP

  • Procrastination is sometimes just a wall covering up someone’s fear of failure. It’s kind of like ‘well, at least I didn’t try that hard..so I’m not a failure, I’m just lazy.’ I’m not sure how that makes the person feel better, but enough people do it that it must. Procrastination should be a life skill that is taught in schools…especially with the internet to distract even more these days, it’s important to know how to overcome it.

  • J

    Thank you for this post. Unfortunately, I am a procrastinator. I am breaking the habit but it is really hard. I look forward to reading your other post on this subject.

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