Category Archives: Motivation

Seizing a business opportunity

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career-planningHave you got a business idea?

Robin Sieger, a motivational guru tells us about a friend of his, who having reached a senior position with the BBC over a 20-year career, was unexpectedly made redundant. It seemed that some external consultants had advised senior management to reduce the headcount. He was obviously upset that his senior managers did not appreciate his worth, but he was also worried about the future, having become so comfortable in his role, and in the stable environment around him.

We are all guilty of sitting back in the comfort zone and it is only through times of crisis that we are forced to reassess our situation. So, over a drink Robin asked him to take a step back and see the redundancy as an opportunity to take his professional expertise to a wider market, with a glowing CV that included a host of enviable awards and credits.

Robin sums it up by saying that “There are two positions in the car, the driver’s seat, or one of the passenger seats. Unless you’re in the driver’s seat you going on someone else’s journey

For 20 years his friend had been in all the seats except the driver’s seat, and his journey had been controlled by others.

So what happened to Robin’s friend? Well, when it became known that he was leaving the BBC, he received so many offers that he decided to go freelance and chose the projects that most interested him. They met for lunch over a year later and his only regret was that he hadn’t done it sooner.

Perhaps we spend too much time waiting for something to happen, and when we don’t get what we wish for we get angry or insecure and find a mountain of excuses to justify to the world and ourselves. Rather, shouldn’t we be in the driver’s seat and setting our own course, with the understanding and acceptance that the journey will not be easy or straightforward but, at journey’s end, will leave us in no doubt that it was worthwhile.

QUESTION: What opportunities are there that you can seize?  

10 steps to making really good decisions

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10 steps to making really good decisions

In an earlier post, I started talking about decision-making; good and bad.  In his book the Motivated Mind, Raj Persaud recommends ten steps to making better decisions:

  1. Make sure you haven’t decided already. Give yourself a chance to consider all the alternatives and resist impulse.
  2. Gather as much information as possible before deciding. Invest in finding information about the situation and options as this is time and money well spent to minimise risk.
  3. Imagine the consequences of your decision. Consider not just the short term implications of your decision but the long term too. Persaud recommends projecting yourself into the future and looking back to the present and imagine what advice you would be giving yourself? If you take this set of decisions what does it stop or limit you doing? What doors are you opening and which are you shutting?
  4. Think about poor decisions you have made in the past. What can you notice about any themes, vulnerabilities, weak spots? What can you learn to avoid repetition? There maybe some sense of discomfort but facing up to our poor decisions through learning and becoming wiser encourages progress and lessens any sense of failure.
  5. Consider all the possible alternatives. As mentioned earlier use your ‘creative, ideas’ side of your brain. Write a long list of options.
  6. Pay particular notice to the worst case scenario. Having identified such options be clear about the risks and consider whether you are prepared to sacrifice x for y.
  7. Seek guidance and support. Talking decisions through can help clarify your thoughts. It can also show up personal prejudices, things taken for granted which may actually be quite unhelpful.
  8. Observe good decision-makers in action. Who are the role models you can learn from? What do they take into account that perhaps you are neglecting?
  9. Sometimes simply waiting is a good decision. Making a decision at the right time and avoiding procrastination demands good organisation. If you feel you want to wait and to reflect and then make your decision, don’t forget – make sure you have a memory aid!
  10. Don’t get so obsessed with always making the right decision, that you put off making decisions at all. Errors are inevitable, none of us are perfect. Review what works regularly and what isn’t so good and change and fine tune to make improvements.

Involving staff in good decisions

Dame Anita Roddick, founder of the Body Shop, recommends using creative ideas to involve staff to make the best decisions. She used to get her team to write messages on the lavatory walls to say:’ Is this a family- friendly company?’ people were always allowed to write anonymously and the board had to respond at the same time. Roddick describes this as opening up your world and letting the ideas flow. During times of organisational change it definitely pays to balance the needs of the business with the needs of the people by taking a little longer to listen and involve the team to make better decisions.

If you do make a poor decision in your work how do you recover the situation?

If you are asked by your boss or a key customer into their office for a chat about a balls-up what can you do other than the usual defend yourself and blame others? The emotionally intelligent answer is to search for agreement with your boss/customer. Pepper your responses with agreements. Accept what went wrong and that it shouldn’t happen again. Agree also, that something needs to be done to avoid a repetition. These responses will make your boss/customer feel they are being listened to.

So good decisions involve the heart and head, both left side for the logic and the right side for the creativity. Intuition is a skill to develop too. Take time and take a calculated risk.

It’s not about never ever making any wild decisions as life then will be very dull!   

Good decision making – how do you shape up?

By | Career, Leadership, Motivation, Productivity | One Comment

In this post I focus on how to improve our decision making.

You may want to make some changes in your professional life or business. Critical thinking, seasoned decision-making and judgement are key attributes for any professional. As is tuning into your intuition to make decisions feel right. Can you improve how you do this?

Yes, you can!

Please read on for some ideas to support and inspire you.

If you are considering making demanding decisions in the year ahead, how do you make sure you are making the right decisions?

  • Have you ever made poor decisions?
  • Lost out on something big?
  • Messed it up?

We all have and hindsight is a wonderful thing but unless you can travel back in time you don’t often get a second chance! Do any of these examples of poor decisions listed below, sound like you:

  • Resigning from your job or quitting on a contract on impulse with no other job to go to?
  • Not spotting things because you haven’t thought through the situation from all angles?
  • Getting angry about an issue and upsetting people with whom you need a long term professional relationship?
  • Not acting but procrastinating instead, putting off tasks for another day?
  • Worrying, becoming stressed out and making a decision when you are exhausted?
  • Taking on too much and producing mediocre results?
  • Doing what you always do and expecting a different result?
  • Sitting on the fence unable to make decision one way or the other and frustrating those who work with you? Making a recent decision which just didn’t feel right and with hindsight you should have listened to that feeling?

What is really good decision making?

Decision making involves making a choice from a range of different options. Sometimes there is so much choice that we feel overwhelmed. It can be complex and incredibly difficult to feel you are making the right choice but there are some helpful ingredients to guide you.

Judgement: what is right or wrong? What is ethical, moral, or “green”? What boundaries are you adopting which support your beliefs and principles? Learning from Enron springs to mind here.

Values: what drivers and motivators can guide you to feel you are making a decision that will inspire you? Will the decision move you towards your goals and away from problems?

Intuition: What is your inner wisdom or gut telling you? Can you answer a definite “yes” to this? If not, listen to what your instinct is telling you.

‘Creative silence’ is a technique where you take 10 to 20 minutes each day when you have quiet time to sit and let the brain make connections without a forced agenda. This helps you make use of your intuition and solve problems as it mimics meditation by going into the subconscious mind. The subconscious mind is very smart and looks for mismatches and solutions. Consider whether there any decisions you made recently with your logical hat on but keep coming back to? There may be a mismatch with your values or principles which you are working through.

Reflection: Give yourself time to make an important decision. This is the only time procrastination is helpful when you sleep on something to get some more perspective. Perspective is extremely important in making robust decisions. Having an external frame of reference if you run your own business is vital. If you work in the corporate world make use of colleagues to test out ideas.

Experience: What is your past telling you? What have you learned that works well?

Creativity: What are all the different options available to you? If you believe you are not very creative use a technique to help structure your thinking e.g. a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis. If you’re not very high on original thought and work better on building on someone else’s ideas – find that someone! A good website for developing creative solutions to the problems you face is Or more simply, think about the benefits and the costs of your decisions. Do the benefits outweigh the costs?

Logic: What are the natural steps to take and in what order? What is the end result you desire and what are the steps to achieve that? Help: Asking for help from others who have been in this situation before or have expertise in this area is a real sign of strength.

Stakeholders: Who is potentially involved in this decision and has a view? What will be the likely impact if you don’t involve them? Tap into your emotional intelligence and be aware! Another way to look at this is to simply think about what would the customer want or the end-user? How does the decision impact them?

Priorities: If you only worked on one thing – what would it be? What decisions can move this forward?

In my next post, I will look at 10 ways to make really good decisions. In the meantime, if you want some coaching on your decision-making, get in touch!

Career Planning: All you need to know (part 2)

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Remember my post about Career Planning?  I was talking about what makes up an effective Career Plan:

          • Who am I?
          • What do I want?
          • What options do I have?

and taking you through how to find out who you are and what you want; so now onto the third step!

What options do I have?
  • How can you improve your current role and raise your potential? Could you take on a new project? Offer to peer coach? Take on new responsibilities? Experience of taking on any change makes your CV shine more. What training and development you can optimise? Do you want to be mediocre or demonstrate excellence asks Brian Tracey, an Achievement Psychologist? If the latter you will always have good employment. Who can help you? What networking can you do?

TIP How can you anticipate future changes and trends in your profession or sector to stay ahead?

  • Change role same employer?
    • TIP Find yourself a mentor to guide you and offer impartial advice about the organisation. Who else can you influence, as people give opportunities to those they like best?
  • Leave your current employer for other options? This involves research, research and more research! Internet, trade journals and fairs, plus networking events all provide up to date information.  If you want a big change, work on a transitional plan to ease you through and manage the risk. Who can help you? Is it worth investing in some professional guidance and support? What can go wrong and how can you plan for that?
How to harness your motivation

Lets be honest here, finding another job is a slog so how do you find the energy to do this? One way of looking at this is to understand where your source of motivation is coming from. Is it that you are motivated by moving towards the excitement of a new job, the extra benefits, the challenges, new opportunities etc; or the good feelings about moving away from your current job, boss, team, commute, or location? With the former (a moving towards goal) be clear about not only the benefits but the costs (energy, money, effort, emotion) too. Allow the pull of a new job to drive you forward, recognising that energy source and consider the bigger picture. If you are more the latter (a moving away from goal), see the benefits of leaving your current role and how it can solve all your problems; but be realistic. Is the grass greener? It’s a bit like doing a cost benefit analysis and remembering where your source of motivation will come from when it’s tough going. You can then hold onto that source to drive you on. 

How much will networking help?

Often when we mention the term networking a look of horror creeps across our client’s faces. They imagine selling, cold calling and all that embarrassing awkwardness of being rejected. Stop there! Think of networking as building relationships, about listening, asking questions, being interested, building trust & rapport in addition to developing contacts. This comes more naturally for some, in others, in true emotional intelligence terms; it can be learned like any skill.

For more on this take a look at one of my previous posts. 

How can Personal Branding help you work out what you are selling and who wants to buy it?

By working out your personal brand it enables you to target, having given you focus and clarity. Armed with your CV and having worked through your personal brand you can feel confident about interviews and becoming close to your next job. See our post about  Personal Branding for more detail.  

Thinking of self employment?

Self employment … 37% of people running UK companies wouldn’t start another business according to a survey by Sage. Government red tape and lack of innovation and passion were cited as the main reasons. Research every angle before you launch into something new like this. 

So is career planning all that it is cracked up to be?

It is not the most qualified people who get the best jobs – it is those who are most skilled at managing their skills and finding opportunities. If you don’t invest in your career who will?  

Career Planning: All you need to know (part 1)

By | Career, Managing Strengths, Motivation, Networking | One Comment

career-planningIn this post I focus on career planning. If you work as an employee this is definitely for you. If you’re self employed does this have any relevance? Well yes, as you still want to develop yourself and continue to grow the business and take it to the next stage.

So do you really need to plan your career?

As a salaried worker if you don’t plan your career who will? Will your manager take as much time, effort and energy in working out career moves for you as well as you could for yourself? Probably not! What about if you are self employed – perhaps it is even more important to plan your development, to have a mentor and take some external frame of reference to be proactive about your business and skills. Will your competition be doing this?

Benefits to you

By planning your career you can:

  • increase your sense of control and become less reliant on others to achieve your career goals
  • enhance your self awareness about what is possible and how your unique mix of skills and strengths changes over time.
  • provide clarity so that when opportunities emerge you are able to make informed decisions and so avoid taking high risks
  • monitor progress against a realistic and achievable plan, leaving scope for change

If you are a business owner you can also maximise potential by succession planning.

Timing: When to do the Career Plan

Imagine a ski slope and at the bottom of the slope is the equivalent of the place where most people begin to look for another job. At the bottom of that ski slope you run out of steam and have enjoyed the thrill and buzz of getting there! Similarly, looking for another job when you are at the bottom of the slope, is when you are most likely to be bored, unchallenged and unexcited. This is hard work and a slight feeling of desperation can creep in. Imagine though looking for that role when you are at the top of the peak, you are confident, motivated and energetic. How do you hide those feelings in either situation to a potential employer? They will seep out and help or hinder you. The time to job search is when you are at the peak not the bottom! If you are self employed the time to review your role, skills and development is annually as part of your business review.

What makes up an effective Career Plan

The plan has 3 parts to it:

  • Who am I?
  • What do I want?
  • What options do I have?
Who am I?

By understanding who you are and what has shaped you so far and what is important to you in the present you can begin the process of planning and decision making for the future.

  • Work out your satisfiers and dis-satisfiers at work. (You may want to add in outside work too).
  • Be honest and identify what you really want to do. Go for the most likes and fewest dislikes.
  • What are your strongest skills? Develop any skills gaps but do please recognise your talents!

“Unfortunately most of us have little sense of our talents and strengths, much less the ability to build our lives around them. Instead guided by our teachers, parents and managers we become experts at our weaknesses and spend our lives trying to repair these flaws, whilst our strengths lie dormant and neglected.” writes author Marcus Buckingham in his books “First break all the rules” and “Now discover your strengths”.

  • How to identify your talents

Ask yourself these questions:

    • What do you most appreciate about yourself?
    • What do people repeatedly seek you out for?
    • Where do you feel you contribute most?
    • What legacy do you want to leave?
  • What values were you satisfying in jobs in the past that have been a real “high”?
  • What existed in the “highs” that were missing in the “lows”?
  • Think about settings where you flourish? Where do you feel most energised? Why? When you were growing up what activities, experiences and people were you most drawn to? When you feel most creative what are you doing?
  • Consider your commitments, duties and obligations.
  • Draw your life line in 5 year intervals and identify the achievements and any issues. Ask are there any themes? What has triggered moves in the past? What have been your successes and failures?
  • Factor in your values which give you motivation. Sometimes these are known as career drivers.
  • List your skill set, both technical and managerial as well as capabilities. Are there any underdeveloped talents? Define your reputation i.e. how others see you? How can you check this out? Who will give you honest feedback?
What do I want?
  • Draw a mind map of your future options. Where do you see yourself in 2, 5 and 10 years? What are the likely barriers and how can you overcome them?
  • If you want to move into senior management positions in addition to a track record and conventional intelligence do you have the following attributes:
    • Emotional Intelligence
    • Learning Competence
    • Strategic Thinking
    • High Motivation?
  • Write your life stage predictor – predict the future likely stages of your life – what you want to do with any large purchases and their funding, factor in pensions and other commitments.
  • Write your retirement tribute to crystallise what you will have achieved.

Next time, I’ll talk about your Career planning options – or, if you can’t wait, get in touch!

What are your personal triggers for Stress? – part 1

By | Managing Strengths, Motivation, Productivity | One Comment

stressed businessmanThe focus of this post is on stress & pressure.

Have you got the right amount of pressure in your professional life? What causes you stress at work? Why should we bother managing our stress levels?

Notice if there are any tips that could help you remove some of the stressors that sap your energy. Or could you look out for any warning signs in colleagues, team members etc and potentially help them? We probably all know people who have had too much stress and recovery takes a long time.

Common stress triggers

Pressure at work is a good thing and part of normal life, but too much causes stress. Alternatively, with no stress, pressure or demands, it would be hard to get going at all and our motivation might suffer. Too much stress is as bad as too little. So where does all this stress come from? The usual sources of stress include big events such as death, divorce, moving house and illness – but what about the more day-to-day work events that can stress us out? How many in this list apply to you and are you happy about it?

  • Public speaking
  • Perfectionist
  • Changing jobs
  • Networking meetings and conversations
  • Attending Interviews
  • Bad traffic
  • Sitting Exams
  • Uncertainty
  • Meeting deadlines
  • Someone shouting at you/telling you off
  • Forgetting something important Meeting sales targets/other targets
  • Work overload
  • Unable to make a decision/procrastination
  • Not enough work
  • Constant change & reorganisation
  • Constant availability through technology
  • A poor working relationship with your boss/colleague/team member

If you are suffering from too much stress as a result of some of the above the impact can gradually build up to some quite profound physical and mental results.

Just some of the likely physical effects you want to avoid:
  • Stomach ulcers
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Asthma
  • Raised stress hormone levels (these actually shrink the part of the brain where new memories are laid down, especially spatial memories like “where have I left my keys?”)
The mental effects you really don’t want:

Burnout at work can lead to the following problems:

  • Emotional exhaustion
  • A detached attitude towards others
  • A low sense of accomplishment
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
League table for stressful professions

So which professions suffer the most from stress? Some recent American research by Martin Seligman listed the following professions as the most stressful:

  • Lawyers
  • Teachers
  • Secretaries
  • Waiters

Occupational research has found that it’s not so much the workload that causes stress but the amount of control you have over the way you do your job. So even if you have a lot of work to do, having some say in it buffers you from the effects of stress. What is it about lawyers that make them vulnerable? The latest theory by Seligman is that lawyers tend to be pessimistic personality types. Pessimism is seen as a plus amongst lawyers because seeing situations from a prudent perspective, from every conceivable angle is beneficial. The key here then is not to take home the pessimism but instead expect things to work out and opt for flexible optimism! Do you British lawyers agree with this?

Managing your optimum stress levels is a skill worth learning.  If you would like help with developing that skill, get in touch.   

Tips to develop success traits

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success-aheadLast time, I wrote about the characteristics of successful people; but how can you develop your own success traits?

Read on!

Tips to develop success traits
  • Having an optimistic view on life and focusing on the positives is hugely helpful. Do you view everything as an opportunity?
  • High levels of confidence and self belief are essential. What situations do you feel confident in and how can you find more of these?
  • Keeping a diary of successes each day or success tracking is a helpful habit. By the end of a week and then a fortnight and after a month imagine how many small things you will have achieved that all contribute towards the end goal.
  • Persevere when it’s tough and remind yourself of the benefits.
  • Passion, use it to propel you forward. Would you do this even if you were not paid?
  • Play to your strengths: know what they are and use them. What talents are you known for?
  • Ask for help: be it financial, time, support, a pair of hands, or feedback – whatever it takes.
  • Take calculated risks and avoid rash emotional reactions. Make time to think logically, be creative about the options available to you and then listen to your gut instinct.
  • Learn from mistakes, don’t dwell on them as you cannot turn back the clock.
  • Find role models to speak to and learn from. Buy them a coffee and listen to their experience.
  • Go public on your goal and action plan if that will motivate you not to lose face.
  • Look after yourself. A workaholic, knackered and out of shape is no good to anyone.
  • Have a balance between enjoying the present and planning for the future.
  • Plan in breaks, treats and rewards at intervals to look forward to.

Is there anything else you could do to be more successful?  If you want help with reading the signs, get in touch!   

The traits and habits of successful people

By | Managing Strengths, Motivation, Productivity | One Comment

success/failure signpostThis time I  focus on the traits and habits of successful people. So how is that relevant to you? Well there may be some areas where you want to sharpen up your act and here are some ideas of what to do! The material for this comes from working with a number of clients over the years and seeing what really works. Books are useful to find out what the gurus say but what really works in practice is what is talked about here.

What is success?

People do not wander about and find themselves at the top of Mount Everest.”  Zig Ziglar

Firstly, determine what it is you really want. What is your vision of success? Next list all the benefits. Leave your ideas and come back to them after some reflection. Use your intuition. Ask yourself “what is important to me at work and in life?” Other than materialistic goals research shows that most people want to be valued and have their efforts recognised. Really think hard about what the cost of this success will be for you. The effort, time, money, energy-are they worth it? What is the price of success or failure? Does the thought of failure even stop you dreaming of what you would like?

Does motivation matter?

Motivation is a key tool to achieve what you desire – so be in charge of your motivation and tap into it rather than letting it be in control of you. Motivation takes us to the pinnacle of success but can take us to a low point – the enemy within. Be realistic about what you can achieve in what time frame. Think about your key drivers or values as these are the core source of your fulfilment and satisfaction. Ask yourself what will happen if I don’t achieve this? Are the consequences serious if you don’t make this happen?

Success strategy into action

Having focused on what you want (your vision) and written it down, plan in detail how to achieve it. Think of this as the architect’s drawing and the builder’s plans. Be aware of goal conflict when you have two goals in direct competition. For example, “I want to go to the gym after work and get fit” versus “I have had a long and tiring day at work and want to comfort myself by going straight home, raiding the larder and watching junk TV.” Prepare for the easier temptation by taking a healthy snack and only watching targeted TV later! Each day start with your to do list and focus on the important not just the urgent. Consider what is time well spent? Prepare ahead for obstacles and things going wrong and build in a plan b. Concentrate on one task at a time and complete it, allowing for the fact that there are distractions and interruptions.

To sum up; success doesn’t just happen, it needs a plan and action but not at any cost.

If you need help with planning your success, get in touch.

Procrastination: How our thinking stops us getting things done

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(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.