25 ways to overcome procrastination

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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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About Mark Lee

Mark Lee works almost exclusively with savvy sole practitioners who want more out of their practice.  More clients, more money, more time, more satisfaction - or everything!

An accountant by profession, Mark moved away from the provision of professional advice in 2006.   He is now a professional speaker, mentor, facilitator, author and debunker.

Mark Lee is a realist and regularly debunks myths and hype related to his areas of interest and expertise.  His keynote talk for audiences of accountants is How to STAND OUT and be more than 'just another accountant'.

Mark is passionate about helping accountants generally so is a keen blogger and commentator in the accounting and tax press. He is consultant practice editor of AccountingWEB and has written hudnreds of articles here that have been viewed over a million times.

Check out how he could help you here: www.BookMarkLee.co.uk/savvy

Mark stopped giving tax advice himself despite being a past Chairman of the Chartered Accountants’ Tax Faculty. He is however Chairman of the Tax Advice Network - the UK's highest ranked lead generation website for tax advisers and accountants. The network also publishes a weekly practical tax update for accountants in general practice and full tax support, on demand too.  You can also use it as a lead generation resource for local people seeking tax advice from an accountant.

Mark has extensive network reach through his blogs, talks, social media activity, articles and his regular newsletters that go to thousands of accountants every week.


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By GaryMc
06th Sep 2012 15:20

Make a list

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

Thanks (2)
06th Sep 2012 15:29

tsk tsk....

please see no. 6!

Thanks (1)
06th Sep 2012 22:30

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.

Thanks (2)
07th Sep 2012 08:16

Many thanks to local post office!

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!

Thanks (1)
07th Sep 2012 09:30


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

Thanks (1)
07th Sep 2012 12:15

I couldn't help myself

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

Thanks (2)
to WhichTyler
07th Sep 2012 15:42


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.

Thanks (0)
07th Sep 2012 12:19

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


Thanks (5)
07th Sep 2012 12:26

Further to point 1

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.

Thanks (1)
07th Sep 2012 12:35

Create a new thread.

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 (0)
07th Sep 2012 12:47

thanks Mark
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?

Thanks (1)
07th Sep 2012 12:54


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

Thanks (0)
07th Sep 2012 13:22

This article

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

Thanks (1)
07th Sep 2012 13:50


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


Thanks (0)
By becks
07th Sep 2012 14:25

I'll read this later.

Thanks (0)
07th Sep 2012 18:56

Serious recommendation
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!

Thanks (0)
12th Sep 2012 10:24

The 4 Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss

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...

Thanks (0)
12th Sep 2012 17:52


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

Thanks (0)
14th Sep 2012 15:43

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

Thanks (1)
16th Jan 2015 12:01

Point 21 Eating Elephants....

Also a task best attacked as a group?


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

Thanks (0)
By makiem
08th Jul 2015 06:32

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

buy soundcloud re-posts

Thanks (0)