Michael Sterling

Kick Procrastination to the Curb in 5 Steps


Benjamin Franklin said it best – “Don’t put off until tomorrow what can be done today.”


But, it’s not really that easy. Right? Procrastination is alive and well and living amongst us. In fact, procrastination is possibly the #1 career killer.


If you’re guilty of putting things off until you find yourself buried under a mountain of to-dos, stop! It’s time to not just show procrastination to the door, but kick it to the curb.


I coach public accounting professionals on their career goals. One of the first things I tell professionals is a core career truth: “You are responsible for your own career.” You are in the driver’s seat. Your success is not in the hands of your manager or the Partners at your firm. It’s up to you. You can’t be successful if you aren’t in control and procrastination ensures you’re not leading the way towards your goals…but in the rear playing catch-up.


How do you free yourself from procrastination quicksand before sinking further?


Five Steps to Freedom


  1. Assessment. What do you need to get done? Create your core list by being brutally honest with yourself regarding your immediate and long-term goals.
  2. Prioritize.
    • First: List all the critical must-do items. To be most efficient, group like items together. I use a great system called “Batching” which I recently described in “How to Batch Your Way to Better Organization.” This streamlines your thoughts and actions by working in the same groove rather than fracturing your focus.
    • Second: Use the two-minute rule. Tackle the items on your Batched list by first completing those which can be done quickly – in a couple minutes or less. You’ll be amazed how many things fall into this category and thrilled by how many items you’ll be able to cross off the list as done!
  3. Take Manageable Bites. Your Mom probably told you “don’t take too big of a bite.” Turns out this not only applies to meals, but life in general. Break those monstrous projects into manageable bites. Too many people put off doing the ‘big stuff’ because they’re intimidating. Cut those projects into smaller pieces, Batch them and check those off one by one.
  4. Be Accountable. Stop rationalizing poor choices. Don’t allow yourself to make excuses for not getting work done. If you know you won’t hold yourself accountable, partner with someone who can. Ask a spouse or a friend to help keep you on track.
  5. Reward Yourself. Set aside time to acknowledge key accomplishments. Define in advance what those accomplishments are as well as their reward. Make the reward relative to the effort. For instance, acquiring a new client might equal a celebratory dinner, while earning your CPA or MST might mean taking a long-awaited getaway.


Once you train your brain to regularly use these five steps – you’ll find proactivity will replace procrastination.


Driving your career requires staying informed.  Continually adding to your arsenal of knowledge gives you an edge.


SterlingFreeman offers of variety of professional development resources in the “Career Wellness” section of our website. Feel free to browse.



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