How to Quit the Toxic Behavior of Procrastinating

As an entrepreneur, there are certain times in your life that you will never forget: your first sale, your first customer review, and sometimes even the day you landed the client of your dreams.

They’re just like those small moments you constantly remember from your childhood. I vividly recall a time when my mother stormed into my room at night to remind me for the last time to walk the dog, and stop procrastinating. I thought to myself, “Procrastinating, what’s that?”

Little did I know that the word would stick with me for the rest of my life. It’s something plenty of others complain about, and I’m owning up to it.

You see, my brain works like this: A task is due on Tuesday at 2 p.m., and that’s the time that gets ingrained into my psyche. That’s when it’s actually necessary to get it done and send it over.

I have no filter to say, “Hey, maybe I should get that done early so I don’t have to worry about it later.” It just goes straight into the procrastination folder.

That’s how I’ve always been, so I’ve figured out how to work it to my best abilities. For others, it stresses them out beyond belief. It causes them sleepless nights, heart palpitations, and even cold sweats. (OK, maybe it doesn’t wreak that much havoc.)

There’s probably be a better way to do things. I’m the first person to admit that I’m generally overwhelmed with work and stress, and if something is doing me more harm than good, I need to make some changes.

I’ve started using these three strategies to beat my procrastination, and become more productive both in my personal and professional life:

If you haven’t read David Allen’s bestselling book Getting Things Done, here’s your official notice. He discusses something called the Two-Minute Rule. It seems easy, but most people let it slip by.

It’s surprising how many things we put off that we could get done in two minutes or less. For example, washing your dishes immediately after your meal, tossing the laundry in the washing machine, taking out the garbage, cleaning up clutter, sending that email, and so on. The goal is to accomplish small tasks in the moment, because if they take less than two minutes to do then you can avoid ever adding them to your to-do list.

I have a business flight coming up, and the company booking it asked for my frequent flyer number. Instead of looking for it while I was speaking to them, I said I’d follow up on it.

It would have taken less than a minute. Now, it’s something that has to rattle around in the back of my head until I either take the time to do it or forget about it completely and miss out on those extra miles.

Don’t do this. We all have enough truly important tasks to worry about to let something small cause undue stress.

You know what’s better than writing out your to-do list for the day? Crossing things off of it.

Celebrate your successes throughout the day, from small things like getting a good business review to big things like landing your dream client. I like to keep a journal and write out important things to remember, and separate out my most important tasks for the day.

When you don’t get every single thing crossed off for the day, don’t beat yourself up. Find a way to fit it into your schedule for the next day and remember to make it a priority.

3. Keeping Yourself Accountable

Nothing keeps me in line more than the expectations of my friends, team members, and family. Have you ever noticed how quickly you clean your home when someone is coming over? It’s just like that.

If you want to stop procrastinating, inject someone into the situation who will ensure you get it done. If you’re looking for an extra boost at work partner up with someone who will keep you on your toes, and that you work well with. Together, you can accomplish more than when you’re flying solo.

Being a procrastinator isn’t the worst thing in the world. At least, I hope not. But when it leads to additional stress and disappointment in your life, it sure can feel like it.

By making a few small changes throughout your day, you can improve both your self-confidence and your productivity.

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YouTube pushes memberships, merchandise as alternatives to ads

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – YouTube said on Thursday that video uploaders with more than 100,000 followers could start paid fan clubs on the service, one of several new features aimed at helping itself and its users diversify revenue after a turbulent year.

FILE PHOTO: The YouTube app logo is seen on a smartphone in this picture illustration taken September 15, 2017. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

The unit of Alphabet Inc’s Google said it was investing in reducing reliance on advertisers, who deliver billions of dollars in revenue annually but increasingly do not want to be associated with some content, such as racy music videos and roguish stunts.

Some video makers saw earnings fall last year when YouTube placated advertisers by restricting where commercials appear. New tools such as memberships and expanded merchandise sales should give video producers more control over their businesses, said Rohit Dhawan, senior director of product management at YouTube.

Dhawan declined to quantify the investment into what YouTube calls “alternative monetization.” But he said that YouTube is keeping $1.50 each month out of every $5 membership to justify resources involved.

Alternative monetization is a major topic for YouTube staff as they interact with video creators this week at VidCon, an industry convention in Anaheim, Calif. Facebook also expanded revenue options for videomakers this week.

YouTube’s goal is to develop a suite of software for creators to manage fan relationships and envisioned tools, such as a way to send personalized “happy birthday” videos to members, requires large teams, Dhawan said.

“The number of engineers we have working on this is not because we think there’s something there,” he said. “We know there’s something here.”

Amy Shira Teitel, who posts science videos on YouTube, said she has gained 103 subscribers since starting to test memberships in September.

The extra $300 a month has let her expand research, including visiting archives in Washington, D.C. In exchange, she holds members-only conversations online about her forthcoming book.

Viewers “know I’m spread pretty thin, and they know if they help me make my work possible, it won’t go away,” Teitel said.

Videomakers choose the name of their membership club and the perks offered, all subject to approval by YouTube staff. Members can report creators that fail to deliver on benefits, such as T-shirts or shout-outs.

YouTube also said creators can customize merchandise on design service Teespring and sell it in a new section underneath their videos. Teespring is lowering fees as part of the deal, to provide creators an extra $1 in profit per item through 2019 and to pay YouTube a small commission, Dhawan said.

Reporting by Paresh Dave; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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A restaurant in China offers an all you can eat plan for $19 a month…and goes bust. Surprised?

Offering free products is a marketing tactic that has been used by businesses big and small ever since there have been businesses big and small. But these tactics certainly have their risks, as the owners of a restaurant in China recently found out.

For the equivalent of only 120 yuan ($19) per month, customers at Jiamener restaurant Chengdu, Sichuan province – a city that boasts more than 14 million residents – were able to eat as much as they wanted for as long as they wanted. The promotion was a hit. In only 10 days, more than 1,700 people signed up for the deal. Unfortunately, the restaurant’s owners got a lot more than they asked for.

Less than two weeks after starting the campaign, the restaurant was out of business and more than $78,000 in debt. The reason isn’t surprising. During that period the restaurant fed more than 500 customers a day – many who shared their “membership cards” with friends and family who then also lined up outside (and then lingered inside) from early morning until late at night. Workers at the restaurant pulled ten hour shifts and the eatery’s owners only managed a few hours of sleep. Not fun. Not profitable.

“We knew we would be losing money [by launching the discount promotion],” one of the owners was quoted as saying to the Chengdu Economic Daily and reported in the South China Morning Post. “We wanted to accumulate more loyal clients through this strategy.” The owners strategized that the additional customer volume would enable them to purchase beer and alcohol at reduced prices which would then offset the cost of the food they were essentially giving away.

All-you-can-eat restaurants are not new. Big chains and hotels in the U.S., from Golden Corral to Pizza Hut to Red Lobster to the higher end buffet spreads in Las Vegas all have similar models to what Jiamener offered. So why did this little restaurant’s all-you-can-eat promotion fail?

For starters, jumping into the “all-you-can-eat” world takes a lot of experience. Take a walk into one of those family style buffet restaurants in the U.S. and you’ll be subject to the tricks of the trade learned over many decades.

Carbs and starches, breads and other filling foods, along with less expensive salads, are presented to customers first and foremost before everything else to fill up their bellies. Food choices not only lean towards much less expensive options (pizza and pasta over steak) but – let’s face it – aren’t exactly made up of the finest quality ingredients. Drinks are aggressively peddled. All of these places are designed to fill you up with cheaper stuff and get you ordering higher margin products that are not included in the all-you-can eat deal. And most of it is self-served to cut down on employment costs. I’m betting these tactics were lost on the new owners of Jiamener.

I’m also betting those same owners didn’t really test out their financial model as much as they should have. Like any start-up, the numbers need to be conservative, tested and questioned. Were the assumptions too aggressive? Did they consider worst case scenarios (like diners giving their membership cards to their entire families?). Did they run their numbers by outside advisors like an accountant or lawyer? Were their estimates too rosy? Too optimistic? Seems so.

Finally, giving away free stuff like this is oftentimes best left to the big boys. Volume and scale is everything, particularly when you’re operating a low margin business like a restaurant. I’m not sure a single Fogo de Chão restaurant could be profitable on its own. But a chain of all-you-can-eat Brazilian meat restaurants where everything from purchases to employee contracts to kitchen equipment that can be negotiated at volume levels and a regimented order of cooking, serving, delivering and cleaning can be implemented across many locations? That’s where a restaurant can generate profits. When you’re big you can afford to give away free stuff. When you’re very small, like Jiamener, you’re taking a big risk and need to be very, very careful.

Unfortunately, Jiamener’s owners made one last, fatal flaw: they bet the farm on their idea. Now the farm, along with everything else – is gone.

I’ll give them credit for one thing though – they didn’t lay the blame on anyone else but themselves. “The uncivilized behavior of the diners was secondary,” one of the owners admitted. The main problem was our poor management.”

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