By Carolina Rocha, Brazil Dog Walking Academy Instructor and Owner of Pet Anjo

You have a lot of ideas for your dog walking business. But at the end of a long day of walking you’re faced with a pile of plans and no action. Procrastination: We all do it. For most of us, the hardest action step to take is the first one. Are you ready to overcome procrastination and make your dog walking business the best in your area?

The act of suspending things you need to be focusing on in the moment in favor of doing something that is more satisfying — or that you are more comfortable doing — is the act of procrastinating. Procrastination occurs when there is a gap between when you aim to do a task, and when it actually happens.

Given our knowledge of learning theory, procrastination actually makes sense, right? It is that familiar trade-off story all over again. Bottom line, it is harder to do X if Y is a much more appealing task and Y is available. Deep down, however, we are usually aware of the task that truly needs our attention and when we choose it, we will be choosing productivity and freedom (both of which will benefit us short-term and long-term).

So, why don’t we just do that? Each one of us likely has a different reason: Impulsivity, disorganization, inability to prioritize, perfectionism, fear, lack of time, or too much pressure. It is subjective. The first step, however, to overcoming this challenge is to determine the root cause of your resistance to a particular task. What is your reason? Write it down. Post it in your home office or at the head of your bed. Acknowledge it because it is real — and it is what is compromising your success!

Start small. Thinking too big has the potential for fallout. Recent research shows that over-fantasizing can hold people back from taking initial steps to get started. So start by visualizing the processes that will be involved in reaching your goals, rather than focusing on achieving that goal. And just like I recommended above, write it down. What are the steps you need to take in order to achieve your goal? How can you break down those steps into bite sized pieces? Think manageable actions. Think living in the present or near future as you venture toward achieving your goal.

Look! We’re already making great progress. Don’t just stop there, however, as you’ll want to be careful not to fall into the busy work trap. It’s common for us to focus first on busy work, such as writing down a long to-do list of tasks, or cleaning the email inbox list. Does that sound familiar? Why do we do this? It’s all about instant gratification. It’s easy to fill our days with busy work as a way to avoid starting on the work we actually need to be doing but don’t want to deal with. How do we avoid this trap? Begin each day by defining one to three high-impact action items you want to take on for the day. Write them down and then, tackle them before looking at the day’s busy work, and then, with great gratification at the end the day, check them off your list!

Lastly, my advice to you is this: Be cool with yourself. When you find yourself saying things like “I’ve delayed so much, I can’t start now!” or “What’s the point?” remember this: You get to choose to begin any time you’d like. And there’s nothing preventing you from beginning now. According to psychologists who study procrastination, when we are more forgiving of ourselves and flexible in our thoughts, we are more productive. So ultimately being cool with yourself is an important part of getting things done. Remember, you’re only human!