a stressed manager at work

Procrastination is a deadly skill which will sabotage many a talented accountant, lawyer or consultant from achieving the career success they deserve. In this article, taken from an extract from Poised for Partnership, I discuss how to stop procrastination from seizing up your career and future.

How to stop procrastinating

From time to time, everyone suffers procrastination. Unfortunately procrastination is one of the ways that we actually sabotage our own success and potentially our partnership ambitions. For whatever reason, when we start to procrastinate, we put barriers and obstacles in the way of what we need to do. Dr Ferrari found that there are three types of procrastinators:

  • Avoiders, who may be avoiding the task because of fear of failure, fear of success, or because they are worried about what other people think,
  • Decisional procrastinators who struggle to make a decision, often because then they don’t need to take responsibility for the outcome of the decision, and
  • Thrill-seekers who are energised by a last minute rush and panic.

Which type of procrastinator are you? Me: I struggle with being an avoider. Although occasionally I do indulge in a little ‘thrill-seeking’!

Here are 10 ways in which you can stop procrastinating:

  1. Identify why you are procrastinating. Is this procrastination helpful or hindering? What are you potentially protecting yourself against? What can you do to overcome this reason?
  2. Be brave and just take the decision. Very often not taking a decision can quickly become a mistake. How many times have you got so caught up in the process of thinking through a decision that you never quite make the decision?
  3. Break the task up in smaller and more manageable pieces. Yes, this is common sense, but it is often the way to get started on something you have been delaying doing. Ask yourself, what one little thing could you do to get started on the task today?
  4. Schedule some time with your External Coach or Mentor to explore why you are procrastinating. They will be able to give you some external perspective and perhaps what they did in a similar situation. Both of these individuals should be able to help you think through what is going on at a subconscious level to cause the procrastination.
  5. Use and complete your To Do list.   Use your weekly planner – find one in the free career kitbag.
  6. Set yourself deadlines. This can be a very useful tool. What can you treat yourself with when you complete the task?
  7. Get the difficult stuff out of the way first. We all have times of the day when we are more productive and able to tackle the tough stuff. For me this is often at seven in the morning. When is it for you? Can you use this time slot to tackle the task you have been avoiding?
  8. Avoid striving for perfection. Very often 90/10 or 80/20 is as good as the client needs you to be. Sometimes by striving for perfection you get into diminishing returns – i.e. the pay off for further effort gets less and less and less.
  9. Delegate or outsource. How can you delegate tasks to your team?
  10. Set aside an hour where you turn off all distractions and power through your To Do list. Interruptions and distractions are a great way to help you procrastinate. How about switching your internet off during times when you NEED to get stuff done?

What are your best tips for avoiding procrastinating?

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