Success News You Can Use, High-Heeled Success® Newsletter - December, 2016

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December, 2016   

December Newsletter


Time Wasters – What’s Behind the Problem?

Kay Fittes, December, 2016

How long is your ‘To Do’ list?  More importantly, how long do the items on your ‘To Do’ list remain incomplete?  That’s a pretty tough question to answer honestly.  Our lists are only as useful as our ability to use them as an effective tool.  When we continue to add items to our list, rewrite them, categorize and recategorize them, but never accomplish our goals, it’s a problem.  As our list grows, stress and pressure tend to show up and take over; often unannounced and uninvited.  And that’s never a good thing.  As the tension mounts, we can become master procrastinators who have a very large chest of creative time wasters to avoid facing the stress.

If we dissect the actual word procrastinate, ‘pro’ means forward, and ‘crastinate’ means tomorrow.  It literally means favoring tomorrow as a better time for doing something.  When procrastinating getting to important responsibilities and tasks, we often fill our time with doing busy work.  An endless array of seemingly ‘urgent’ things need to ‘get done’ before we get to the work at hand.  Have you ever justified that something must be urgently done before beginning your ‘real’ work?  Things like cleaning a filing cabinet, desk drawers, running an important errand, going through email, or if you work from home, the endless call of housework can all produce the illusion of productivity.  We are deluded into thinking we are getting so much done because we are busy.  We try to convince ourselves that mindless activities and being busy equate to being industrious.  But, who are we kidding?  We can be very busy checking social media, but it is by no means productive.  So what keeps us ‘busy’ and procrastinating, instead of being truly productive?  There are some very strong underlying issues behind putting things off, and it’s important to identify and understand them in order to move beyond them.  In working with women who face procrastination issues, I’ve identified four recurring themes: fear, indecision, boundary issues and feeling overwhelmed.  Let’s explore.

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Kay’s Consulting Corner

Kay Fittes

Each month in this section, Kay offers actionable career consulting tips.

Eliminate Procrastination with a Proactive Plan

Although it may take a lot more work to get to the real reasons WHY you procrastinate, you can attempt to overcome your vices by implementing the three-point strategy below.

  1. Have a daily plan and stick to it!  At the end of your workday, or before calling it a night, make a plan for tomorrow.  Schedule your top three priorities.  Then, and here’s the important part, commit to completing each task.  With this tactic, many people find success if they do first things first.  That is, getting the priorities done as soon as possible in the day.  A solid golden rule here is this: if it is not on the plan, don’t do it!  When another task or ‘rabbit hole’ (as I like to call them) attempts to lure you from your focus, write it down on a rewards list.  After you’ve completed your priorities, check your rewards list.  With the free time you now have open, you may be surprised to find that what was previously enticing you is not all that attractive once you’re priorities are complete.  Consistently accomplishing three major tasks a day, over time, adds up to a lot of progress!

  2. Know your internal “go to” risks.  We all have our key distractions – social media, cleaning, or maybe even cat videos.  Perhaps your biggest “go to” risk is snacking, getting a glass of water, or another cup of coffee (I know that can be my Achille’s heel).  Take inventory of your internal triggers for a few days and see where you are most susceptible to fall into distraction.  Just like the commitment you make each day to stay focused on your three top goals, commit to refusing to give in to your internal risks, and work on recognizing them in a nanosecond.  If necessary, take extreme steps to avoid them.  Some strategies for this include writing Post-it® notes to yourself as a reminder; closing out all the windows on your computer except for your project of focus; setting a timer to commit to a certain amount of time to work before allowing yourself a break; or changing up your work environment.  If you work from home, try going to the library, Starbucks or Panera a couple times a week.  If you work in an office, seek out an alternative place to ‘set up shop’ temporarily where distractions are at a minimum.

  3. Know your “external” risks and make a plan to minimize them.  External risks are distractions like phone calls, emails, texts from your kids, conversations with co-workers, or meetings that last way too long (just to name a few).  Sometimes we accept these disruptions without question, responding to them as if they are mandatory, even urgent.  While it’s true that some personal matters are urgent, most can wait for lunch, a mid-afternoon break, or day’s end to address them.  We’ve become so accustomed to ‘instant on’ and being accessible 24 hours a day, that to not respond seems almost irresponsible or unthinkable.  Take inventory of your external triggers for a few days and see where you are most susceptible to fall into distraction.  After you’ve identified your triggers, provide clarity to others about the time you have available.  This includes children, spouses, even co-workers.  It may take some time on both your parts to adjust, but remember this – no one can steal your time, you allow others to steal your time.

If you struggle with time wasters and focusing on priorities, please give me a call at 513-561-4288 or connect with me via email at and we can uncover the obstacles keeping you from being productive!

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