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Management Tips

Break Through Procrastination to Get That Tough Project Done

It’s human nature to procrastinate—we all occasionally drag our feet on projects. But putting off a project that’s important (and perhaps not urgent) can be damaging to your career. If you find yourself repeatedly ignoring a particular item on your to-do list, here are five things you can do.

Ask yourself or your manager: What, precisely, are you being asked to do? What is the desired output, and how long do you estimate it will take? Getting specific will help you move forward.

Identify a task you can accomplish, even if it’s not the most strategic (such as sending an email or fixing the layout on a presentation deck). This can help disrupt your inertia and make it feel easier to return to the task in the future. Experiment to see what works for you; you might try keeping your phone in another room, using software to limit your access to certain websites, or even working on a computer that’s not connected to the internet.

Is It Possible to Ask Too Many People for Advice?

When you need advice, how many people should you ask? It’s tempting to get a lot of opinions — say, from friends, co-workers, and mentors — but doing so can backfire. You won’t be able to follow everyone’s advice, of course, and research shows that those whose advice you don’t take may have a worse view of you afterward. They may even see you as less competent or avoid you. (Imagine a senior executive in your company who is pleased that you asked her what to do — and then less pleased when you don’t do it.) So the next time you need advice, think carefully about who you’re asking and be transparent about your goals. Clarify the reason you are soliciting advice (“I am hoping to explore all my options”) and whether you’re asking others for their view as well. That way you can set the tone for the discussion and the expectations for the actions you take in the future.

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