Are You a Pro at Procrastination?

Procrastination. We all do it to some extent, but did you know that the degree to which you procrastinate can keep you from success? When coaching my clients on time management issues, undoubtedly procrastination comes up as one of the stumbling blocks to getting things done. Do you make any of these statements?

I work best under pressure.

I’m much more creative when I do things at the last minute.

I have plenty of time. My deadline is not until tomorrow.

So why do we do it? People procrastinate for different reasons. Do any of these ring true for you?

  • Poor time management, often associated with a distorted sense of the time available
  • An inability to prioritize tasks
  • “Biting off more than you can chew” – creating an overload of tasks at a specific time
  • Not knowing what is required to do the task
  • Feeling overwhelmed by the task(s)
  • Fear of failure or not meeting your own standards
  • Fear of success and its possible consequences
  • Perfectionism, having unrealistic standards
  • Boredom – task is not interesting or not important to you
  • Avoidance of things which are disliked or difficult.

How to Overcome Procrastination

Procrastination is a habit and to overcome procrastination you need to create new habits. As you know, habits are hard to break. Before you can create new habits, you need to take an honest assessment of how you manage your time; identify the reason(s) you’re procrastinating (see list above); and examine the typical procrastination excuses that you use. Once you have a clearer understanding of your behavior patterns, you’ll be able to develop new behaviors that are related to your specific issues.

A misconception is that this is a one size fits all solution. Only you can discover what obstacles are in your way so that you can overcome them. Your reasons for procrastinating are personal to you, and once you bring them to your awareness level and create a plan of action to make changes, you will see results that will work for you.

Tips to Create New Habits

  • Think about the consequences (identify the negative results of not completing the task).
  • Get organized. Make a “to do” list of what needs to get done.
  • Schedule your activities that need to get done when you are at your peak productivity time. So, if you are an early bird or a night owl, take this into consideration.
  • Don’t over schedule yourself. Be realistic in what you can get done.
  • Break large tasks into smaller, more manageable projects.
  • Visualize yourself completing the task successfully and how you will feel at that time.
  • Research what you don’t know.
  • Delegate it to someone who can help you (get some coaching).
  • Motivate yourself with a reward for completing the task (make it exciting — something you wouldn’t ordinarily give yourself).
  • Dwell on your strengths on tasks you have accomplished.
  • Stop trying to be perfect. Are your standards too high? It’s better to produce something rather than nothing!
  • Make a decision. Sometimes it is better to risk the possibility of making a mistake than to not make the decision at all.
  • Minimize distractions. Turn off the email notification sound on your computer; silence your phone; or hang a Do Not Disturb sign on your door.
  • Implement the “Do it now!” mantra. Whenever you catch yourself thinking, “I can do this later,” think “DO IT NOW!” Every time you follow through and do it now you are reinforcing the positive habit of action.

Success = Action

Successful people take action. They manage their time by planning for the future and setting goals and action plans. Habits of procrastination will keep you from taking action and acquiring the success you deserve in your life.

The challenge is to consistently practice new behaviors and overcome self defeating habits that keep you from your goals. There is no magic wand. Increasing your awareness and having clear strategies to stay focused will show results.

If you have any stories or comments about dealing with or overcoming procrastination, please place a comment below or go to my Facebook Fan Page and post it there.

If the Heat’s Too Hot: 4 Steps to Dealing with Difficult Situations

How many times have you heard this phrase? As we deal with a sweltering heat wave in half of the country, headlines scream how hot it is, and if the heat’s too hot…tips on what you should do to stay cool.

So I thought about how that relates to business relationships and the times when things really can get you “hot under the collar.” Deadlines, irate customers, bully bosses, unreasonable clients all can contribute to making a situation one that can get the best of you. Here are four tips to help you stay “cool” when things heat up.

  1. Take a deep breath – yes, breathe, because under stress we stop taking in enough oxygen and forget to breathe deeply.
  2. Take a new perspective – it’s not all about you, so make sure you take the time to listen and understand all points of view. Ask yourself, “How important is it?”
  3. Communicate clearly – this may be the time to pick up the phone or meet face-to-face. Text and email messages (or Facebook or Twitter) do not help you take in all the informaton you may need since you don’t have the benefit of hearing someone’s tone, seeing their body language, or shaking their hand
  4. Get humble – our egos easily get in the way before we even know it. Take a moment to put someone else ahead of you. It will matter.

So, if the heat’s too hot…remember that life is too short to sweat the small stuff.

Podcast: Leaving Wall Street to Sort Things Out

Eva Abreu

Eva Abreu

Eva Abreu is a true entrepreneur who captures the pulse of her community, connects her colleagues using social media, and motivates her followers and clients to simplify their lives and literally by getting organized. Eva recently joined us on 30 Minute Business Dig to share her journey from leaving her corporate background on Wall Street to the founding of her organizing company, Sort Things Out; becoming a social media business columnist for the Gannett newspapers The Home News Tribune and Courier News, and Gannett web site www.mycentraljersey.com; publisher of www.NJsocialmedia.com; and founder and executive producer of Eva Abreu Productions LLC, which produces family-friendly community theater.

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Podcast Q&A: The Top 5 Mistakes That Businesses Make That Can Cripple Their Growth & Success

Business MistakesBusiness owners often make similar mistakes that impact their growth and success. As a business coach and strategist, I find that many of the businesses I interact with struggle with some of the same problems.

I approached Kim Brandley, CPA, a partner at the accounting and consulting firm J.H. Cohn, and asked her to share her expertise to help business owners overcome some hurdles in growing their businesses. My Q&A with her provides insights for businesses that may be making these mistakes and how to avoid them.

At the end of the blog post there is also an audio podcast of our interview where Kim gives more detailed responses to the questions.

Q1 – What are the top 5 mistakes that businesses make that can cripple their growth and success?
  1. Not having a strategic/business plan
  2. Not understanding cash flow
  3. Not understanding your competition
  4. Losing focus of core business
  5. Not asking for professional help
Q2 – Why is “not having a strategic/business plan” important and how does it hurt the business not to have one?

The business plan is like a roadmap. It’s not much different than when you’re driving down the road and you follow a map and you know where you’re trying to get to. Have a realistic business plan in place and goals that you know you can accomplish and things that you know you can get done.

Q3 – The second mistake is “not understanding cash flow. “Tell us why cash flow is king.

Cash does not equal net income and there are other metrics within the business that affect cash. There are times when you’ll have a good year in a business and you should probably either reinvest that in capital assets or things of that nature or try to put some money away, because inevitably there’s probably going to be a year that’s not a very good year compared to that one. Some questions I would ask are “do you measure your metrics on a weekly basis?  What are your average days to collect for accounts receivable?

Some areas which impact cash flow are depreciation, taxes, people not paying you on time, taking out a loan, and how quickly you pay your own payables.  Business owners need to have up to date financial information because it’s hard to base decisions on stale information.

Q4 – Why is “not understanding your competition” a key mistake?

Underestimating your competition is a mistake that business owners make often. It starts with a thorough understanding of target market and recognizing who the business leaders are, where they are located and what their needs are.  Business owners need to know who else is capable and qualified to provide those clients with the products and services they are looking for.  It is easy to track your competition’s activity through websites, social media, Google alerts, industry publications and associations.

Q5 – You mention the 4th mistake as “losing focus of the core business.” Why is that important?

It’s important to have a focused vision to remind you what you do best and why you’re in business. I think you have to be very careful not to take resources away from the core business or at least understand what resources you are draining from the core business and what impact that could have. If you’re going to take a risk and do something a little bit different, you need to manage very proactively rather than managing by crisis.

Q6 – The 5th mistake is “not asking for professional help.” Business owners think they can do it all themselves! Why is this a mistake?

In many cases businesses, particularly in this economy, don’t want to spend money, but sometimes spending money with the right professionals is clearly going to save you money in the long run.

You need to surround yourself with a group of professionals, whether that’s legal, accounting, consulting, and be willing to at least hear what they have to say and listen. Do what you do well and bring in professionals to do what they do well. Trying to do everything yourself as a business owner is most likely going to lead to many sleepless nights and probably a very exhausted business owner.

You need to have an open mind and be willing to listen to what the professionals are telling you. It doesn’t mean that you’re going to take every piece of advice, but you at least have to be open-minded that you’ll listen to some of the ideas. And be willing to take a step back and realize that you’ve probably made some mistakes and learn from those mistakes.

On an internal basis, are your people giving you what you need? Be willing and brave enough to make hard decisions to let someone go.

All these things tie together and are often not mutually exclusive. Often times these mistakes happen together.

Q7 – So what are some steps a business owner can take to grow their business?
  1. Have to have an open mind and be willing to listen to those people around you, whether it’s a formal board of directors or a personal set of board of directors where you have set up an advisory group.
  2. Be willing to think differently so that you can look at what you do well and try to turn that into additional revenue streams in some way. Look at the things with respect to the business that you know are going well.
  3. Make sure you provide excellent customer service.
  4. Ask for referrals.
  5. Get proper sales training.
  6. Focus on what you do best.

Kimberly Brandley, CPAKimberly Brandley, CPA is a partner with the accounting and consulting firm J.H. Cohn LLP. Kim has extensive experience providing audit, accounting and consulting services to privately held businesses and their owners. Kim can be reached at kbrandley@jhcohn.com or 732-380-8618.

Generate Buzz for Your Business By Becoming Semi Famous

Burke AllenIn a crowded marketplace, we are all looking for ways to stand out from the crowd and generate publicity for our product or service. Burke Allen, CEO and President of Allen Media Strategies, joined 30 Minute Business Dig on Blog Talk Radio to share his tips on getting free media exposure in print, radio, television and online through what he calls “Becoming Semi Famous,”  which is also the title of his book. Allen brings three decades of entertainment business experience as a radio and TV host, writer, top-rated morning show personality, radio station owner, national booking agent, broadcast consultant and educator.

Allen shares some incredible stories of how his clients have used this technique to generate sales and create buzz for their businesses. He gives examples of how becoming semi famous works; who can benefit from this strategy; how to become a media darling so you continue to get calls for interviews; and some basic interview do’s and don’ts.

Listen to this entertaining and lively discussion – and implement some of these great ideas to help you and your business get free publicity and sales for your product or service.