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Procrastination – how it can kill business

I have been known to clean my kitchen sink rather than do my admin.  Why can’t I just sit down and do my invoicing, expenses, tax return etc etc.  I know I’m not being lazy because I’m cleaning rather that putting my feet up with a cup of tea and some biscuits!  I’m also completely aware that I’m putting off doing something I don’t like, but really need to get done.  So why?

Some psychologists have called procrastination ‘short-term mood repair’ –  we’d rather do anything else than get on with tasks we need to get done.  It’s worth thinking a little deeper about the task and what it’s making you feel when you do it. For me, admin is boring and repetitive and my mind wants to wander off and do something, anything more interesting.

I’m no psychologist but I can be an expert procrastinator!  I’ve spoken about this with lots of people and here are some of the best top tips I’ve been given:

Top tips

  1. Figure out why you procrastinate – why does that task make you feel that way? Don’t be hard on yourself.  This happens to everyone!
  2. Do you know when during the day you’ve got the energy to deal with the tasks you find most difficult? Perhaps keep a note one week, you might be surprised that you assume you’re most energetic in the morning, but find that you do the tough stuff after having lunch!
  3. Baby steps.  Instead of writing down ‘expenses’ on my to do list I break it down into more manageable tasks such as: find receipts, take photos, send receipts to Xero etc.
  4. Put on some music – I wasn’t sure whether this would be a distraction but I love this one.  I put on classical music whilst I’m doing anything tax related!  Not sure why, but it worked 😊
  5. Set yourself a deadline, put it in your diary – when it pops up in your calendar you might just get on with it and follow the calendar instruction!
  6. Try the pomodoro technique (link)– work in 25 minute bursts and then have a break.  This works well when studying but also for admin tasks when they’re broken down into chunks.
  7. Go get everything you need to complete your task before you start it.  If I have to go off somewhere to find my calculator I’ll soon find myself scrubbing the sink …
  8. No distractions.  Try putting your phone in your bag or in another room.  Turn off the notifications on your computer.  Tell others that you need 25 mins to get something done.
  9. Get a procrastination buddy.  Telling someone else what you’re going to get done and by when is a great way to make sure it happens.  Imagine having to go back to your buddy and explain that the task didn’t get done but your sink is now sparkling.
  10. Reward yourself for getting the task done – tea and biscuits at last!


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