25 ways to overcome procrastination | AccountingWEB

25 ways to overcome procrastination

Mark Lee summarises the tips recently shared by AccountingWEB members on how overcome the perennial problem of putting things off.

One of the most popular Any Answers threads on AccountingWEB last month was Procrastination – is there a cure?

Member Jaybee661 must have been surprised by the level of empathy and interest the post prompted. At the time of writing it had attracted more than 60 comments, mostly from fellow accountants sharing their advice and ideas.

Jaybee661 noted that they love their job and have a very happy practice but that they are a regular procrastinator: “The days seem to fly by without me actually achieving a lot.”

Some great suggestions were put forward to cure this blight, summarised and rationalized in the full article, available to registered, logged-in AccountingWEB members.

Mark Lee is Consultant Practice Editor of AccountingWEB and writes the BookMarkLee blog to help accountants who want to avoid being seen as Boring.  He is also chairman of the Tax Advice Network of independent tax consultants.


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GaryMc's picture

Make a list    2 thanks

GaryMc | | Permalink

26. Compile a long list of ways to overcome procrastination?

tsk tsk....    1 thanks

justsotax | | Permalink

please see no. 6!

Turn off the internet and    2 thanks

fpdbookkeeping | | Permalink

Turn off the internet and keep open only the 1 computer program you need to do the task at hand. Ignore everything else untill the job is done.

mr. mischief's picture

Many thanks to local post office!    1 thanks

mr. mischief | | Permalink

It's usually lunch time when they deliver our post, so I am more or less 100% on technique 7.

Kind of them to think of helping me out like this!

Motivation    1 thanks

malcolm141 | | Permalink

I'd be interested to here what Mark and readers think about this.

I've been doing some research into what drives business success and think quite a bit is down to psychology. At the end of the day we are humans driven by emotions and feelings.

From what I have found, there two way of thinking about motivation and the key to dealing with procrastination is understanding yourself and knowing how best to think so you can motivate yourself.

"Towards" motivation is where the focus is on the benefits of doing something. So, if the issue was personal fitness then as a "towards" type of person you would be motivated by thinking about looking good and feeling better. This is often referred to as the ‘carrots’ approach to motivation.

"Away From" motivation is where the focus is on why we are trying to avoid, it's what we want to move away from. This can be the ‘stick’ approach to motivation.

Think about what direction/view/focus motivates you and expand the implications in your minds eye.

So, if you are an "Away From" thinker then you are probably motivated by things like wanting to avoid late fines and losing clients. But, perhaps these things are not enough to deal with your procrastination so expand your thinking about the ongoing consequences.

If procrastination continues you'll end not being able to afford your lifestyle. At first you will need to cut back on luxuries but if you keep not doing the work you'll have to sell your house. And, perhaps you won't get a mortgage so you'll have to pay a landlord and move every six months. This could put stain on your marriage and end up divorced and only see your kids every other weekend.

Now, this is just a mind game to get the levels of motivation cranked up so you get what needs to be done, done.


Accountant North London

I couldn't help myself    2 thanks

The Rogue | | Permalink

Don't put off to tomorrow what can be done the day after.

I think I'll read this, tomorrow...    5 thanks

asquithandco | | Permalink


Further to point 1    1 thanks

mike_uk_1983 | | Permalink

Turn off email notifications and then book in reminders to look at your emails in the time you have set aside. That way you will not be distracted by emails mid way through doing that day you not want to do.


Anyone who ants to get hold of you urgently will always call you.


I set aside 4 times a day to look at emails. I may also look at them other times as well between jobs.

mydoghasfleas's picture

Create a new thread.

mydoghasfleas | | Permalink

Rather than continue on the old thread, create a new one then you can read both.

I think this proves the point, if you can put something off long enough someone else will deal with it for you.

thanks Mark    1 thanks

carnmores | | Permalink

A lot of asinine replies as usual!
Your article correctly only deals with tips etc it could be a little more precise
Procrastination may be a symptom of an underlying condition and that should be acknowledged at least
Incidetally there was an article in city am about self discipline being the key to success and a new book provided results from extensive research perhaps Mark you could look at it?

AnnaKournikovasKnickers's picture


AnnaKournikovas... | | Permalink

I'll look up what 'asinine' in the dictionary when I get round to it.

This article    1 thanks

CEWUBAACA | | Permalink

Just read this article to avoid doing the pile of filing in my office!

ccassociates's picture


ccassociates | | Permalink

I was gong to post this yesterday but....


I'll read this later.

becks | | Permalink

I'll read this later.


leon0001 | | Permalink

The Rogue wrote:

Don't put off to tomorrow what can be done the day after.

Don't do the day after tomorrow what you can avoid altogether.

dbowleracca's picture

Serious recommendation

dbowleracca | | Permalink

A fantastic book not mentioned already is Eat That Frog by Bryan Tracey which is basically echoing the points made by Mark but with some extra tips and also very easy to read.

Work from a list and break down big jobs into small ones, and also do only what is moving you towards your goals and ignore the rubbish that does not move you towards your goals - I.e. reading this post lol!

The 4 Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss

andy1111 | | Permalink

Another great book not mentioned above which has some incredible insights which help with procrastination, amongst other inefficient aspects of modern office work.

Having read it, the only pity is that being a service provider, it's quite hard (!) to cut your work down to 4 hours a week without suffering a directly proportional cut in pay!

...That is until you employ someone else to do the job for you, charge the same rate, but pay them peanuts and spend just 4 hours a week managing the business.

Ah, good old capitalism...


carnmores | | Permalink

if you dont know what asinine is ask enrique ;-)

Jason Dormer's picture

Thanks for this Mark,    1 thanks

Jason Dormer | | Permalink

Thanks for this Mark, good stuff, been meaning to read about this subject for an age but haven't ever got round to it.

Point 21 Eating Elephants....

BroadheadAccountants | | Permalink

Also a task best attacked as a group?


..... too soon after the horse-meat scandal?

procrastination really

makiem | | Permalink

procrastination really disturbed me a lot of times.. but thanks for a couple of wonderful yet somehow informative tips.. :)

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