I don’t have time to write this blog post.

You see, Coming to America is on TV, and I haven’t see it in a few years.  And, uh…Eddie Murphy is awesome and plays half the characters.  And, well…

WRONG.

***

This was a sneaky way to introduce my post about avoiding procrastination. When you work for yourself, the opportunities for distraction are endless.  And seductive.  You might have a 5-page To-Do List, a stack of phone calls to return, and suddenly that Full House marathon on TBS sucks you in.  One episode turns to two.  Two to four.

And then 5 hours later, nothing has gotten finished except for that bag of Oreos.

So how do you stay focused and avoid procrastination?

There are all sorts of ways.

1. Routine.

Set up a daily routine, and discipline yourself to stick to it.  Treat your workouts, your brainstorming sessions, your phone calls, and other tasks as real appointments that go on the calendar.  Set alarms to start and stop them.  But stick to the plan.

2. Take Pre-Planned Breaks.

One of the secrets to not getting sucked into the black hole of distraction is to have set breaks where you actually stay productive, but get to focus on something else.  Take out the recycling.  Throw the tennis ball around with the dog (or the wall).  Whatever it is…stay engaged, but have fun while you’re doing it.

3. Just Do It.

One of the main reasons people get distracted is because they’re avoiding something they don’t want to do, which could range from making an awkward phone call to facing a daunting blank page when you know there’s a 10-page proposal due by morning.  Whatever it is, look past the fear and just start.  Know that you don’t have to make anything perfect right off the bat — you can always revise.  And that phone call probably won’t be as bad as you think it will.  And if it is…hey, at least you got it out of the way.

One final suggestion.  I learned about The Pomodoro Technique a long time ago, and it changed the way I manage my days.  It’s a terrific time management system that’s deceptively simple, and you can learn it in a couple minutes.  Check it out.