Procrastination can get the better of anyone's talent and ambition. Henrik Edberg, life-hack expert and author of The Positivity Blog, knows this struggle well and he's developed proven strategies to barrel through unnecessary time wasting. He helps more than 80,000 enlightened subscribers with the power of positivity, offering battering rams against blocks in focus, confidence, and attitude. I couldn't resist the opportunity to talk to this inspiring writer for advice on defeating that dangerous enemy of entrepreneurship: our own procrastination.
Nico: Hi Henrik, thank you for accepting my invitation to participate in this interview. On your website, you've mentioned that you used to be "a procrastinating slacker that never got much done." I'm amazed by where you are today. What were the top warning signs that helped you realize you were actually a procrastinator?
Henrik: One of the biggest warnings signs was that I often had many good plans for what I wanted to achieve or do, and then six or 12 months later I had actually done about 0–15% of those things. So I was good at daydreaming but not very good at actually taking action on steps and tasks that often were quite difficult or unfamiliar to me. So instead I did nothing, or I did the things that were easier but that didn't help me go where I wanted.
Nico: As evident from your website, you seem to be a pretty successful online entrepreneur. How did you overcome procrastination to get your blog up and running?
Henrik: Well, getting started with the blog was easy because I had done a few websites in the late 90s and I thought it was still fun. But getting a readership and creating actual products and courses that people would be interested in buying was another thing, especially to become a full-time job. It was tough and I had a lot to learn. But I really wanted it, so I was motivated.
And I knew that if could apply what had really worked for others in the past – to follow the overall blueprint formed by their experiences, successes, and setbacks – then it was very likely that I could find success too. So I learned as much as I could from others and then I took it one step at a time and applied that to what I wanted to create.
Nico: Don't you think that outsourcing would be one of the smart ways for entrepreneurs to solve procrastination?
Henrik: Absolutely. To pay someone a sum to do something that they are better at than you and you may find very difficult and/or boring is a win-win solution. It can save you time, energy, and, in the end, money too. You can use your time for something you do better and, if you're a beginner at something, then it's likely that you would spend more money to do it yourself compared to what you would pay a more experienced person.
Nico: You're a pretty busy person. You're running several online courses, writing blog articles, and moderating emails. How do you manage staying productive without feeling overwhelmed?
Henrik: I ask myself questions that help me to cut through busywork. For example: What would I work on if I only had two hours today? I also start right away after breakfast by taking a small step forward on my most important task of the day. This sets a good tone for the day and makes it easier to keep my attention in the right place and get high-priority things done. I shut down easy escape routes into procrastination. My smartphone is at the other end of our home when I work, and this small strategy really helps to cut down on that easily accessible escape onto Instagram or Reddit.
Nico: Overthinking holds people back from taking risks and making things happen. What are your suggestions for entrepreneurs to not overthink things too much?
Henrik: Using the question I mentioned in the answer above is one good way. To stop yourself in situations when you know you can't think straight is another. For me, that could be when I'm hungry or late in the evening when I'm tired. If thoughts start buzzing around in my mind in such a situation, I say this to myself: "No, no, we are not going to think about this now." And then I revisit it when I know I'll think more clearly, like after lunch or a good night's sleep.
Nico: If you could share just one practical tip with someone who is struggling with procrastination, what would it be?
Henrik: Reduce the pressure on yourself. That's one of the biggest reasons why people escape onto Facebook or Instagram and procrastinate there instead of studying for the next exam or working on a report or project at work. You can reduce the pressure by taking just a small step forward at a time and only focusing on that one step. That's it. And after you're done with that one, focus only on the next small step and nothing else.
If the small step you come up with still leads to you procrastinate, then come up with just a tiny 1–3 minute step and take action on that. The most important thing is to get started and keep going, even if it may at times be at a slower pace.
It's natural and healthy for ambitious people to think about the big picture. Marry that instinct with Henrik's advice to move toward success by focusing on small, tangible steps. Small ideas and small tasks are easier for all of us to work with. If you find the big picture too overwhelming, stop and pause, take a deep breath, and step back until you can focus on just one detail.
Stringing together multiple accomplishments keeps us excited, motivated, and productive. And remember Henrik's most important lesson: You have the power to put procrastination and daydreaming behind you with a positive mental attitude.
How often does procrastination rear its ugly head when you're trying to get things done? How do you push past procrastination? Share with us in the comments below.