Has it been difficult getting your course to the finish line? Maybe it's been months or even years since you started trying to create your online course, but everything seems to be standing in your way. If you're also starting to think procrastination is the culprit here, my friend, you are right.
Procrastination is one of the biggest challenges that prevent a soon-to-be course creator from actually becoming one. Well, you’ve come to the right place, because I’m going to give you three ways to eliminate procrastination to keep it from stopping you from creating your online course.
Imagine how my team and I work when we're helping multiple clients with multiple courses — there are TONS of deadlines to reach for every piece of the project, from writing to creating the activities and worksheets. As you can imagine, there are a lot of moving parts to put a course together. Each specific moving part has an assigned task and deadline.
What I started noticing was that some of my team members would meet the deadline by a nanosecond, including myself. Others would have it finished a day or two earlier — seeming to plow through and move onto the next part of the project or even another project. So, I decided to do a little investigation and study the differences between those of us who barely met the deadline — or those that stayed up all night to reach it — versus those who were ahead or right on time, or even early for the deadline. Interestingly, I noticed the differences in how each of us approached the work, and the approach is a big determinant of quality and efficiency.
I learned about a term which is built around behavioral psychology research called time inconsistency.
Time inconsistency is a phenomenon that addresses how we view time. As humans, we have a tendency to place a higher value on things that give us an immediate return over those that offer future rewards.
Consider this as it relates to course creation. Creating your course is something that presents benefits in the future. On the other hand, a desire to spend time binging on episodes of Game of Thrones — that's something that provides an immediate sense of enjoyment or accomplishment. If given the choice, which do you do? “Write your course outline or Game of Thrones?” Which one would you choose?
There are three ways that I have found to be really powerful in making a difference in how quickly we create our courses and complete each assigned task. These three things are simple, but they're so powerful. I promise that if you incorporate these into your process, they will make a huge difference in the progress you're making on your course.
Create Small Measures of Progress
The first thing is to create small measures of progress. Small measures means bite-sized measures of progress. This could mean spending 10, 15, or 30 minutes a day working on your course. Consider how much time you can devote to your course on a daily basis. This is so important because it builds a habit of consistently working on your course. As you make progress in your course, you move through your tasks more quickly. Imagine what you could do with three, four, or five days out of the week if you can commit this time to working on your course and getting it done.
Create a Visual Reminder
The second thing is to create a visual reminder. I keep a jar that sits on my desk at all times. Every time I complete a task, I put a marble in the jar. Having a visual reminder cues your brain into the commitment you’re working to complete and shows you the progress you’re making every day. When I see this reminder, this jar with marbles, sitting on my desk, I know that there's work for me to do and tasks to complete for whichever course I'm working on that day.
My glass jar of marbles works great for me, and I've seen some people even use post-it notes to keep themselves accountable. Think about what would be impactful for you.
What would be a good visual reminder for you?
Create Immediate Rewards for Taking Action
Third, create some immediate rewards to give yourself for taking action. Creating these rewards gives you that instant gratification to push through and keep your momentum up, achieving one thing after the other.
So, what does this look like?
I have a playlist on Spotify. I love house music. So, I put on my house music playlist, and it’s like my fuel.... the creativity just flows. Before I know it, I've already spent 45 minutes typing and putting creativity to paper, and I have pages of content. What would be something that you love that would be an immediate reward to help you get through a task?
How to set it up is something that I learned from James Clear, the author of Atomic Habit (which, by the way, is a fantastic book for productivity and building great habits). He has a formula I have found to be incredibly helpful: Only do X [ the thing you love]. So, for me, it’s playing my Spotify house music playlist while I'm working on the things I procrastinate on — writing course content. Think about something you absolutely love and one of the things that you procrastinate on. Plug these into that formula, get going, and MAKE IT HAPPEN!
Let's recap. The three simple, powerful practices you can use to eliminate procrastination when creating your online course are: 1) create small measures of progress, 2) create a visual reminder, and 3) create an immediate reward for taking action.
If you enjoyed this topic and would like to jump-start your course creation process, click this link to download my free guide, 7 Ways to Turn Your Expertise Into an Online Course.