Tuesday October 22, 2013 | 08:30 AM
Posted by Barbara Babkirk

What’s on your “to do” list that you keep putting off?

Is it updating a resume that’s ten years old? Sending an email to a colleague to ask for contacts? Attending a professional meeting and risk having to tell someone you’re not working?

While it may seem that these unfinished tasks are benignly hanging out on a list, they’re in fact zapping your energy just by being in queue along with your other obligations. When you postpone an action you need to take, you’re not really free from it because it will occupy your thoughts in some way until you act.

But, getting to completion may be simpler than you think.

Typically, the cause of procrastination is not poor time management or lack of discipline, but rather, some type of distorted thinking about the action.

For example, if you need to tap contacts in your career field, but are not sure how to go about it, you might convince yourself that no one will want to help you. With that mindset, there’s no use in making the effort.

Or, you might need to update your resume and create a LinkedIn profile, but you’re not sure of the current best practice or what you have to offer a future employer. So, you make up a story that you’re not really employable which zaps any motivation to get started.

In each example, procrastination happens from fabricated reasons without stepping foot out the door!

Reversing this limiting behavior starts with being aware and taking control of your thoughts.

The following four steps might help you shift from habitual procrastination to consistent and timely completion of important tasks:

1      Recognize the task/s you are delaying.

2      Be honest with yourself about what’s behind the delay. Is it fear or a lack of knowledge that is keeping you stalled?

3      Sort out the facts from what you’ve assumed or made up. Do a reality check and/or ask for some help about how to proceed.

4      Break the task down into manageable steps with adequate timeframes for completion.

5      Seek help from a professional if you need facts and help getting started.


Shift the way you think of what you have to do and begin to imagine how it will feel to have it completed.

About this Blog

Barbara Babkirk is a Master Career Counselor and founder of Heart At Work Associates, a career counseling and outplacement firm in Portland.

With a focused and intuitive approach, Barbara makes a difference in people’s lives by helping them design a new life chapter. She has a successful record guiding career transitions for professionals ranging from executives and artists to attorneys and entrepreneurs.

An expert in her field, Barbara is a public speaker on work-related topics writes a solutions-oriented column about work for the Portland Sunday Telegram.


Scott Woodard is a career coach with Heart At Work Associates, a career counseling and outplacement business in Portland, Maine.

Scott works with clients to identify and articulate their value and their personal brand. He helps clients develop clear, concise and crisp messaging to convey their particular difference, their achievements and their approach.

Scott coaches clients to market their brand through social media platforms, especially LinkedIn. He offers monthly workshops on how to make the most of LinkedIn for businesses or job seekers.

Previous entries

April 2014

March 2014

February 2014

January 2014

December 2013

November 2013


October 2013

September 2013

August 2013

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