Monthly Archives: January 2012

Procrastination: How our thinking stops us getting things done

By | Motivation, Productivity | One Comment

(and what we can do about it!)

In other words – “am I bothered?” Hello everyone.  This time I continue my look at understanding procrastination. I focus on just what does go on inside our heads and stop us from actioning things and what practical steps we can take to overcome this.

Procrastination may not be all our fault as there are plenty of people, places and things that hinder us from starting or stopping a task as discussed in my previous post. So that’s the good news because you can usually cope with those real obstacles. The bad news is, it is us and only us who are responsible for taking or not taking action. To beat procrastination, writes guru Michelle Tullier, you have to own up to the fact that what goes on in your head has something to do with the problem.

The Psychology of Action

All actions result from feelings and thoughts. If those thoughts and feelings are:

  • Negative
  • Irrational
  • Unrealistic

… then the behaviour they spark may be procrastinating behaviour. If on the other hand our thoughts are neutral or positive the behaviour that results is more likely to be productive and appropriate.

Thinking too much? Bad habits?

Have you ever thought “I am thinking too much about this”? Worrying about something you are going to do, what could go wrong, what’s wrong with your situation etc. You end up making the task much more difficult or overwhelming than it needs to be. This can lead to you feeling fed up at the same time as beating yourself up for not getting things done! These feelings lead to lower self esteem and more procrastination. Here, follow the advice of the Nike slogan: Just do it!

The next time you are about to put something off that you regularly procrastinate over, listen to the thoughts in your head “I’ll do it later” or “I don’t have to do this now” If so, think about those simple little statements, known as negative self talk, think of the power they have had over your behaviour. Listen to Nike! Just do it!

Eight causes of Procrastination:

What’s yours and what can you do?

  1. Fear of failure, success or how you’ll be judged. A handy defence mechanism writes Tullier. It keeps us from trying new things, taking risks or accepting new challenges. By not giving ourselves the chance to fail we can’t then be disappointed or rejected. Fear of success is about how our lives may change if we do succeed. What might be expected of you? Whereas fear of being judged is more about concern about your performance so you delay starting or not finishing a task. TIP Remember a time when you have actually failed at something and that you survived; that your boss or colleagues or people that care about you were supportive and didn’t think any less of you.
  2. Perfectionism. This is one of the most common causes of procrastination. Striving for excellence is a good thing. Striving to be perfect is not. What’s the difference asks Tullier? Perfectionists can be extreme and obsessive in their thinking; they procrastinate because of burnout, remembering how it felt last time when they worked on something similar. So to protect themselves they only get started when forced to, when they have the time or no choice. High standards allow behaviour to be realistic and flexible. TIP Perfectionism is an impossible task and that aiming for 80% is still acceptable.
  3. Being overwhelmed. Finding a task so difficult or big you don’t know where to start. If the size, scope or nature of the activity is overwhelming it is easier to put it off. TIP Break the project into steps, have a plan and review regularly to keep perspective and feel a sense of progress.
  4. Feeling frustrated. Do you have a low tolerance for ambiguity or delayed gratification that comes with some projects? This is similar to overwhelm if you are the sort of person who needs to see instant results and you are working on a long term goal like weight loss. TIP Work with some support. Team up with a buddy to motivate each other.
  5. Adrenaline rush addiction. Are you relying on the thrill that stems from completing a task at the last minute? Think about why you feel the excitement? Is it because life is dull? Or do you believe you work at your best in this way? Maybe you do do good work but what is it like for others around you? What are you like to be with or live with? What long term implications are there for your health and heart? Working late nights, all night, no breaks actually makes you tired, grumpy, unproductive and liable to make mistakes as there is no time for reflection or redrafts. TIP Give yourself the challenge of finishing the project early and treat yourself to a reward!
  6. Negativity towards the task. This refers to disliking or being uninterested in the activity itself. Have you got evidence of half finished jobs at work or home? These may seem trivial but may form a daily reminder of failure, unfinished business, clutter, if only I had the time thoughts which continue to drain you. TIP Pay someone to complete, or delegate, or ask for help with a reward at the end or simply dump it. Motivate yourself by viewing the big picture, how this fits in and how you will feel when you have done the task. Make it fun with friends, music, whatever it takes.
  7. Rebellion. You want me to do what? Procrastination is a powerful tool for rebellion. We can demonstrate our feelings about people and tasks by not doing what is requested. In this way we have control. TIP A little rebellion is necessary for our sanity and independence says Tullier. But if carried too far can put our jobs, businesses and relationships in jeopardy. Discuss your feelings and thoughts to come up with a compromise.
  8. Psychological issues. Conditions such as depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and anxiety make it difficult to get things done. TIP ask for help and support from professional medical resources. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is one of the helpful strategies to find out about!

If the idea of having to resolve the internal drivers of your procrastination makes you want to give up, be reassured generally the internal causes are no more difficult to overcome than external obstacles.  I talked about this in my last post.

Take some time to identify your top cause and be brave and do something about it.

Overcoming Procrastination at Work

By | Motivation, Productivity | One Comment

How can you harness your energy so that you perform more effectively at work?  In a nut shell we are talking about overcoming the dreaded procrastination!

What causes your procrastination?

Have you ever considered what it is that stops you, slows you down or frustrates you about getting work completed? What is it that saps your energy? What it is that you procrastinate over? Reasons might include:

  • Not wanting / knowing how to do the task
  • A messy desk or cluttered work space
  • A difficult relationship with a colleague
  • Too many emails
  • You cannot find things
  • Being pulled in too many directions
  • Temptations to do the easy, rather than the more difficult but important tasks
  • Fear

The list is endless! Michelle Tullier, a guru in this area, writes that you can broadly categorise these reasons under two headings. Firstly, environmental reasons e.g. the main trouble stems from situational factors like overload, distraction, disorganisation and secondly reasons to do with your mind which have a psychological root! So in this post I will examine the environmental reasons. Look out for another post when I will discuss perfectionism, fear of success or failure, overwhelm etc.

The 3 key Environmental Reasons for Procrastination

Getting started on tasks or completing projects you have begun, relies on a critical thought to action link, says Tullier. You have the thought, but action doesn’t always follow. Obstacles get in the way. “I won’t go to gym because the wardrobe where I keep my gym clothes stored is messy.” “I won’t finish that project because there is a disarray of papers and it’s difficult to keep track of where I am.”! There are 3 key reasons or hazards that Tullier describes: those of people, places or things.

People – these are your partners in crime, fellow procrastinators who convince you of a million other things you’d rather be doing or people who just nag or drag you down.

Places – here Michelle refers to your workspace and the excuses we find to avoid working. Namely, the desk, the lighting, the temperature and all the other ergonomic factors!

Things – Papers, files, folders, junk. Stuff that clutters and crowds us from clear thinking and action. One of the major causes of procrastination is too much paper and disorganised papers. In addition, too many commitments can clutter and overwhelm us causing a drain in energy.

Top tips to create action


  • list all the people who contribute to your procrastination and think of ways to stand up to them or avoid them.


  • to overcome those excuses of “If only I had the right desk, chair etc” just do it, get started.


  • Plan in regular admin time with a deadline as if you were doing this for someone else. Play some good music to enjoy at the same time. Remember daily, weekly and monthly admin tasks. Think of some treats or rewards to look forward to.
  • Create physical space to be creative and productive in your office, workspace, or at your desk.
  • Plan in some regular breaks as this does actually make you more productive!
  • List all your commitments and identify where any delegation, breaks from the commitment or support can be brought in. If saying “no” is a problem, look at ways to improve your assertiveness.
  • Don’t over schedule, leave room for the unexpected.
  • Distractions like chatting on the phone, watching TV, surfing the internet, playing PC games are all BIG enemies of action so plan in such activity when you have completed your important tasks. (It may help to log how long you currently spend on these activities so that you are in a better position to manage them).
  • Keep a success diary. Once you get started and begin to see results this will motivate you further.
A New Perspective

Cheryl Richardson recommends in her book to identify the things that drain your energy- the energy that allows you to get things done, connect with others and stay physically and emotionally fit. For most people who live stressful lives, this energy is limited and usually running low. Normally we think of our energy levels rising and falling based on what we “do”. However, it is much more than that says Richardson. Every action you take uses energy. What you may not have considered is that actions you don’t take use energy as well – mental energy, emotional energy, energy that could be used in a more positive way. The items on your mental to do list, the ones you have been procrastinating about, distract you or make you feel guilty. She suggests noticing what gets your attention and steals your energy!

The commitment to make difficult but necessary changes that will restore your energy can have an immediate positive impact. Energy is one of the critical ingredients for success. You decide who or what gets it. Choose wisely!

Next Steps

Create your top 10 procrastination list by recording all the areas that drain you at work or home. Prioritise the list and identify what you can do and by when. Focus on just changing one thing at time and only one and stick with it for a week.  Start in the next 48 hours if possible!  

If you need extra support with reducing procrastination, we have a great E-book that can help. 

Personal Branding: Essential for Running a Business Today

By | Career, Networking, Productivity | No Comments

Customers are demanding more; they want the promise of value that you offer.

This is largely due to the change in our culture – we are now information-rich and time-poor. We have altered the way we buy products and services and no longer rely solely on judgements based on features and benefits, as they don’t have the same impact as they did in the past. People are overwhelmed by the choices they face. “We are now more likely to purchase if we feel an element of trust and have an emotional attachment to a product or service”, says Dawn Winder. As I described in my last post, a strong, powerful and dynamic Personal Brand will communicate exactly these values.

A strong Personal Brand will attract people and opportunities to you, as it increases your confidence and communication skills. It inspires loyalty and respect in your target market and establishes you as an expert in your chosen field. It is the foundation of any marketing of yourself or your business.

Authenticity and Business Success

Once you have identified your Personal Brand values – what you stand for, your vision and purpose – you will find that you will be able to communicate this with ease to your prospects and clients. In building a strong Personal Brand you are saving not only your clients’ time, but also your own, and reduce stress and frustration into the bargain. You will stand out for the uniqueness that you offer and able to therefore enjoy a competitive edge. Marketing that really makes sense.

So, can you afford to ignore your brand, whether planned or not?

Get in touch for help on creating your personal brand.

Personal Branding

By | Career, Networking | One Comment

You may think that Personal Branding has nothing to do with you but read on and consider whether you can afford to ignore it!

What is a Personal Brand and why do I need one?

A Personal Brand is the thought or expectation that comes into someone’s head when they think of you, writes Dawn Winder, a communication coach. It is the powerful way that you express what you stand for – your vision, values, beliefs, skills, passions and attributes.

Personal Branding is about what makes you unique.

In marketing terms it is your unique selling point or USP. It relates to how people view you, what you project to others, and their perception of you. So why would you need a Personal Brand in your career or business? Let’s look at how the celebrities do this to maintain their personal success to really understand what is transferable to the everyday world!

Celebrities are increasingly turning themselves into brands, using their fame to succeed in business or attract lucrative advertising deals. Whether they are selling underwear or leading a charity campaign, they are in demand because, just like a top brand of trainers or a leading mobile phone, they are instantly recognisable.

According to personal branding consultant Gabriella Goddard, celebrities build up their brands by sticking to a few key attributes they want to be known for and making sure everything they do reinforces the image. She says: “Through circumstance you gain visibility and from there you create recognition. And if you are consistent, the brand comes across. Whatever your brand is, you need to paint everything you do with that brush.” For celebrities, this includes being careful what products you let yourself be associated with.

Personal Branding in your career

In “normal” careers, working on your personal brand can gain dividends in terms of business success or climbing the corporate ladder. This does not mean you need a brand name, branded stationary or advertising about yourself, just a clear idea in your own mind of how you want to be seen.

If you can put across a clear message about what “talents” you are “selling”, you are more likely to be hired or promoted. When you write your CV understand and emphasize your talents. Make it obvious what they are by being explicit.

Ms Goddard says it is important to decide what makes you different and what you want to be known for. Then you can concentrate on making sure everyone associates you with those qualities.

You might want to be seen as a stylish and innovative artist, or as an authoritative and decisive manager. It is a good idea to focus on any particular area of expertise you have, or anything you are passionate about. If you are not sure what you are valued for, ask for feedback from friends and colleagues to find out how others see you. Keeping your skills hidden will not lead to new opportunities. Work out with your boss or mentor how you can maximise your talents.

Top Tips for branding
  • Networking, building contacts in other departments and companies.
  • Joining trade organisations to gain credibility and recognition.
  • Writing pieces for trade journals in your field of expertise to help promote yourself whenever you can.
  • Start showcasing work and building a fan base on social media sites like Twitter or Facebook.
  • Taking part in charity events, gaining publicity through local media, doing work experience and voluntary work. It is important to act professionally, with business cards at the ready, and to dress the part.

For help on working on your Personal Brand, please get in touch.

More Networking Tips

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Networking for Trading Knowledge

Following on from my previous posts, trading knowledge can provide golden nuggets of information.

Networking with Professional groups provides ideas you can access and give opportunities for genuine collaboration with real mutual benefit. Specialist networks offer the chance to develop state of the art thinking: networks across complementary talents can share common problems.

To get started, attending conferences and seminars in your field targets the right people. Start asking questions in the queue for coffee. Exchange business cards and keep in touch.

Tips and Tools
  1. Do introduce people who you think may have a connection.
  2. If you are right handed wear your name label on the right lapel and when you shake hands the line of vision travels up the arm to the lapel.
  3. Follow up conversations with any action points, thank yous, good to meet you within 48 hours if possible.
  4. Be specific about the introductions that you want. Keep in touch with your network via calls, email, newsletters, meetings. Around 140 people are the ideal number for your network. Too many more and you cannot stay in touch frequently enough.
  5. Be memorable, image is important. The slob look is out!
  6. Send articles…I saw this and thought of you.
  7. Carry business cards: they can start the conversation. Collect business cards sparingly. It is not volume you are after. You don’t want to be accused of meeting, greeting and deleting.
  8. Ask questions and be curious. People are interested in people who are interested in them. Talking about yourself only is limiting.
  9. Prepare your 60 second elevator speech and your 3 minute tell me about yourself answer.
  10. Don’t interrupt two people already talking, wait for a pause. Perhaps offer to get a drink when you are getting yourself one.
Can you afford not to network?

You can see the intention is not to make networking smooth talking but more about creating lasting relationships to help people both personally and professionally; both in the corporate world and the SME market.

It is a skill to develop and practice.