5 Tips to Manage Procrastination as a Small Business Owner

Procrastination can prevent entrepreneurs from attaining their full potential. It can make you delay tasks and miss out on life changing opportunities.

Everyone procrastinates to a degree. We waste time scrolling through our Instagram feed.  We tell ourselves “not now, I’ll do it later”  while we continue to put off tasks till the last minute.

Let’s  examine how to manage procrastination as a small business owner.

5 Tips to Manage Procrastination as a Small Business Owner

1. Understand Your Triggers

Understanding your triggers lets you anticipate situations that might lead to procrastination. For some people, it could be fear of failure or being judged. Procrastination could also be a result of the brain thinking about everything at once (paralysis by analysis) which makes it difficult to make decisions and take action. 

In his research, Dr. Timothy Pychul highlights some of the triggers of procrastination that make us put off tasks until the last minute:

Frustrating Tasks 

Frustrating tasks are often associated with uncertainty, helplessness, or even lack of control.  Whether you struggle with a slow internet connection or you can’t seem to find your way around the new copier machine, your frustration can trigger procrastination. 

Boring Tasks

Boredom can also make you put off tasks. Working on tasks you don’t find intellectually stimulating like responding to routine emails can trigger your procrastination. 

Difficult Tasks 

Source: Mark Manson

From conducting market research to working on a Power BI presentation—dealing with difficult tasks can make small business owners put off tasks. Consequently, this procrastination makes you prioritize easier and less important tasks over the ones that are difficult. However, these tasks are usually unavoidable even when they make you feel uncomfortable.

Unrewarding Tasks

Working on tasks you feel are unrewarding can trigger your procrastination. If you hate paperwork but you have to work on a financial report, you may find yourself procrastinating because you feel these tasks don’t hold any value.

2. Break Down Your Projects into Manageable Parts 

Small business owners usually handle a lot of tasks which can be daunting. However, breaking down tasks into small and doable parts can make your tasks less overwhelming. As you complete each milestone, you get a sense of accomplishment which motivates you to do more. 

Here are some actionable tips that would help you break down your tasks into tiny parts:

Identify the Overall Goals 

The first step to breaking your tasks into manageable parts is having a clear mental picture of your overall goal. Ensure your goals are realistic and achievable. 

Instead of setting goals like increasing your brand’s social media following by 100% in the next 2 months. You could implement a new hashtags strategy and keep track of vital social media metrics every 2 weeks.  

Divide Tasks into Smaller Steps

Dividing your tasks project into smaller and manageable subtasks makes it easy to accomplish. These subtasks could be steps that are significant toward achieving your goals. Your subtasks can be market research, funding, project approval, planning, funding, and design approval.

Measure Your Progress

Staying consistent with your goals can feel like an uphill battle even with the best intention. However, measuring your progress is the right recipe for achieving your set goals. It helps track progress ensuring you are headed in the right direction. Investing in goal-tracking tools like ClickUp and Todoist can help you keep track of your progress.    

3. Get Better at Time Management 

Effective time management can help you meet deadlines and achieve a healthier work-life balance. Here are some tested time management techniques you can explore:  

Pomodoro Technique 

The Pomodoro technique involves 25 minutes of focus work followed by 5 short breaks. After completing 4 consecutive work (120 minutes) intervals, your short breaks extend to 15 to 30 minutes. 

Time Blocking 

The time-blocking technique is a time management strategy where you block out some time to focus and complete your tasks. To get started, come up with a to-do list (which includes assignments, meetings, or even personal errands) and estimate a realistic time that would be enough to complete each task. Also, including short breaks (for lunch or walks) in your schedule can help you relax and avoid burnout from work. 


Eat the Frog

The Eat the Frog approach centers on tackling the most important or difficult tasks in the morning. Just like everybody, entrepreneurs often put off the tasks they dread or find difficult on their schedule. This technique helps you complete these challenges in the morning when your willpower is at its peak. 

4. Be Accountable 

Procrastination is a slippery slope, a difficult challenge to defeat even with the right strategy. However, accountability could help you end your procrastination cycles. Here are some accountability options small business owners struggling with procrastination can explore: 

Hire an Accountability Coach

If you love to stay on track with your goals without getting distracted, you might consider hiring an accountability coach. A coach gives you access to feedback and an overall personalized experience.

You get to check in weekly or bi-weekly depending on your arrangement. More importantly, an accountant coach can guide you on how to approach your goals. 

Join an Accountability Community

Being part of an accountability group with like-minded entrepreneurs also can help you reach your goals and attain your full potential.  The group serves as a strong motivator for you to take action rather than putting off your tasks. You can join an existing online community or start your own accountability group with your entrepreneur friends. 

5. Implement Effective Workspace Organization Strategies

As a small business owner, your workspace plays a crucial role in your productivity and ability to combat procrastination. Here are practical tips to organize your workspace and minimize procrastination:

Declutter Regularly

A cluttered workspace can lead to mental clutter and distract you from important tasks. Take time regularly to declutter your workspace by removing unnecessary items, organizing documents and supplies, and creating designated storage areas. A clean and organized workspace can promote clarity of mind and make it easier to stay focused on your work.

Establish Daily Routines

Developing consistent daily routines can help create structure and discipline in your workday. Set aside specific times for focused work, breaks, and administrative tasks. By following a predictable routine, you can reduce decision fatigue and make it easier to transition between tasks without succumbing to procrastination.

Minimize Distractions

Identify and eliminate potential distractions in your workspace to maintain focus and productivity. Turn off notifications on your phone and computer, close unnecessary tabs and applications, and set boundaries with colleagues or family members to minimize interruptions during designated work times. Creating a distraction-free environment can help you stay on track and avoid procrastination.

Move Past Procrastination

To manage procrastination, you have to be willing to acknowledge that you are struggling with it. When you break down your projects into smaller parts, it makes large tasks less intimidating. 

About the Author

Philip Oyelola is a marketing enthusiast & content marketer. He helps tech companies with content that builds trust and educates their audience. He enjoys writing on topics like HR, client management, and content marketing.When Philip is not writing, he’s watching sci-fi, or listening to Afrobeats. You can connect with him on LinkedIn and Twitter.