One of the most predictable New Year’s Resolutions for an Affiliate Marketer goes like this:
“I will learn how to control my time. I will defeat procrastination. 2012 better watch out ’cause I’m coming to kick its arse…”
The statement of intent is admirable, but far too many of us fail to learn from mistakes of the previous twelve months. Do we expect them to just disappear? Irrationally, yes we do. We wait for a new dawn, pretend that we’re all the wiser, and then plunge head-first in to the same mistakes yet again.
I would guess that at least half of the people reading this blog woke up on January 1st with the desire to procrastinate less. We see it as the great barrier to achievement. “Well, if I could only bring my mind to focus on all the plans I’ve set for myself, I’d be as rich as my whiteboard says.”
Procrastination is a buzz term that bloggers love to blog about, writers love to write about and speakers love to speak about. It’s a universal phenomenon. To beat procrastination is to pin jelly to a wall. Just when you think you’ve cleared your head of all the distractions and white noise, along comes another unforeseen circumstance to obliterate your carefully laid plans. We end up feeling sorry for ourselves. No matter how hard we search for solutions, we still fall in to the same black hole lapses of productivity.
If you don’t challenge yourself to tackle the problem at its source, you might as well pencil in ‘beating procrastination’ as your annual challenge for 2013, 2014, and every subsequent year for the rest of your life.
So what is the source of procrastination? Ultimately, it’s the failure to foresee your own weaknesses. It’s not a lack of application, or desire, or ambition. Procrastination is simply what happens when you plan a future without addressing the fragility of the decision-making by your future self.
We can all assess procrastination logically in moments like these where we’re reading the obvious in black and white. Yes, we know it’s bad. Yes, we know it’s a hindrance. And yes, we’re all going to make an extra effort to conquer the problem. It’s natural to feel vaccinated against procrastination while you’re reading about it. Unfortunately, there is no vaccination. Just sensible planning.
To reduce the procrastination struggle, you need to make contingency plans for your future self; a much weaker feebler-minded self that has long forgotten your ambitions, and wishes only to cave in to short term satisfaction. Pretending that this alter-ego doesn’t exist is the fastest way to guarantee failure.
A naive New Year’s Resolution is to vow not to spend hours checking Facebook every day, using the thought of all the extra work you’d get done as an incentive.
A realistic New Year’s Resolution is to vow not to spend hours checking Facebook every day, and then LeechBlock the motherfucker so that its physically inaccessible between 9am and 8pm.
The difference between these resolutions is that one is driven by an idealistic hope that temptation will diminish given the right incentive. Much wiser than such hope, is a contingency plan for your weaker future self. Procrastination is just a term we give to the many temptations that control our short term decisions. Temptation is here to stay, and so is our habit of caving in to it like victims of a venus flytrap – unless we learn to tackle the temptation in advance.
Procrastination is not like smoking. It’s not a dirty habit that we can overcome with the right incentive. One day, even the most ardent nicotine fiend may find that cigarettes just don’t hold the same appeal. Such success stories prove that beating an addiction is painful but possible. Beating procrastination is not. It would require evolutionary re-programming that probably won’t be possible in our lifetimes. We are hardwired to cave in to short term temptation much more willingly than we will hold out for long term satisfaction. And that’s why you find yourself balls deep on Facebook when you should be hard at work.
If we can’t eliminate procrastination, what can we do? We can prepare for the temptations that have fucked us in the past. We can’t remove temptation, but we can control behaviour by putting our future selves on a metaphorical leash.
Here are some examples of steps an affiliate marketer can take to become more productive:
1. Pick a new traffic source, any new traffic source, and deposit $1000 immediately. The simple act of committing money to a project will do more for your ‘scaling’ than any amount of scribbling in a notepad.
2. Use LeechBlock to physically remove access to time wasting sites. Don’t just hope that you won’t waste your time. Physically stop your future self! There will be moments in the day where your attention is slipping and that future self sees no harm in a quick 5 minute session on Facebook. Make it impossible.
3. Find a business partner with a superior motive. Once upon a time, I built websites thinking the carrot of money in the future would inspire me to see them through to completion. I soon realised that this carrot would disintegrate when a better idea came along. Naturally, your future self has a bias towards ideas born in the present. If you want to really nail a big project, take on a business partner who is even more motivated than yourself. (Hint: Somebody who gives a damn about the niche.) Use their energy and passion to maintain your spark for projects when the honeymoon period (aka. the domain registration and WordPress installation) wears off. Let them know that part of their job is to kick your arse in to action.
4. Form your own mastermind group and set a daily recap. Sharing knowledge with other affiliates is one of the fastest ways to progress. I recommend kickstarting 2012 by forming a small mastermind group with 2 or 3 other marketers in the same position. Make sure there’s a group discussion at the end of each day. Use it to share your progress. Nobody wants to be the worst performer in the group, so use that competitive pride as inspiration to get a bloody move on.
5. Announce products before they’re ready to be launched. If you run a blog, or any kind of community, and still haven’t ticked off that 2012 must-do of releasing your own product, why not create a sense of urgency? Announce it in advance, tell everybody the launch date, and let your followers hold you accountable. Even better, promise 50% off if you fail to deliver it on time.
I hope everybody is optimistic and determined to make 2012 their best year yet, no matter how depressing my contrarian approach may seem. Never be afraid of making a fresh start and setting tough targets. Just don’t be so foolish as to make the same mistakes again.
Recommended This Week
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