Tag Archives: Productivity

How To Get Rid of Procrastination Forever

Hands up!  Who’s got a ‘to do’ list that they never ever get round to completing?

Or, did you set yourself a load of resolutions to do before the end of the year, didn’t start them in January but are telling yourself you definitely will action them now?

There’s name for this and it’s procrastination.

Next Tuesday, the 6th September, is Procrastination Day. And if there’s one thing that I have to constantly work on it’s my tendency to procrastinate.

I used to think of myself as a perfectionist. But, when I started being honest with myself, I realized that in actual fact I was doing nothing other than procrastinating.

And I was so good at it!

My new favourite mantra is from the amazing Marie Forleo. I repeat it to myself on a regular basis and it’s: #progressnotperfection

So, spend a minute thinking about this:

If there’s one thing that you’re procrastinating on – where might you be if you stopped procrastinating over it and took some action.

Why do we procrastinate?

This common behaviour often stems from fear of the unknown. Or we may fear what we perceive as the embarrassment of failure, other people’s opinions and have doubt as to our own abilities.

We shall overcome!

So if most of us procrastinate how do we overcome it?

I read an article recently, which suggested something rather interesting. As a general rule men will submit a piece of work when it’s 85% complete whereas women  will only submit when it’s 100% finished.


The upshot being that women tend to be less productive.

While a woman is perfecting a piece of work a man will have moved on to the next thing on his list while waiting for feedback on what he’s done so far.

And the chances are that the ‘not-quite-perfect’ piece of work gets accepted as it is. Praise is given and the submitter moves on to the next task in hand.

Here’s a few suggestions to help you tackle the procrastination pest!

1. Brain Dump

Take 10 minutes to write down everything that you want to achieve at work and at home in the next one to two months. Then break these down into 3 to 5 steps depending on is the size of the task and diarise when you’e going to take action on each point.

2. Eat That Frog

If you haven’t read this book then I recommend it! In simple terms the book talks about doing the thing that you don’t want to do first every day. That way you aren’t spending energy thinking or worrying about it.

Having got the unpleasant task/tasks out of the way you’ll then be free to do the things you enjoy doing.

3. Accountability 

Get an accountability partner in what ever format works best for you but just get one!

This may be a coach, being part of a mastermind group or getting your best friend to come running with you.

You’re more likely to take action and achieve your goals if you know someone is going to ask you how you’re getting on.

I’m part of a mastermind group – we meet via Zoom every Tuesday evening.

Without doubt I’m at my most productive on Tuesday afternoon. This is because I don’t want to be the person on the call that says they  haven’t achieved what they said they would.


Earlier I asked you to take a minute to think about if there’s one thing that you’re procrastinating on – where might you be if you stopped procrastinating over it and took some action.
What ever it was that you came up with just take action NOW!

How to Say No



I have a confession to make; I find saying “no” really hard to do.

I don’t like conflict and I genuinely want to help people so I often find myself saying yes when I really want to say no.

Saying ‘yes’ can lead to great opportunities and meeting some fantastic people but it can be also be really exhausting!

The problem we have at work is that we want to be seen as a team player. We don’t want to appear boring or difficult to work with.

But, if we always acquiesce, then we can end up feeling pressured, or maybe even bullied and that will lead to feelings of resentment.

Conversely, if we do refuse a request, we can feel guilty and worried that we might have offended someone.

It is a minefield.

Do you also find it hard to say no?  Do you answer yes to any of the below?

  • Go to a dinner party when you really want to catch up on your favourite TV show?
  • Can you attend this meeting for me?
  • Do you want to join the work team run?
  • Can you host Christmas lunch and all the family?
  • Can you cover Jane’s workload today, as she is sick?

If you find yourself agreeing to do things you don’t want to more often than you should then it may be time to take back some time for yourself.

This quote from Warren Buffett may help you to say ‘no’: “The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything”.

Tips to say no at work

1. Reframe

I am currently doing this great online business programme called B-School and it has really helped me reframe and learn to say ‘no’ more easily, swiftly and, more importantly, without the guilt.

When I find myself wanting to answer ‘yes’ to something, I stop and think about what that ‘yes’ actually means in terms of what it would displace that I’d rather be doing.

For example: I’m asked to attend an event. The wanting to help and wanting to please part of me wants to say ‘yes. I’ll come.’ So I think about the things I could be doing in that time. The things that I really want to do – such as working on my book or writing the content of my first webinar.

I then find it easier to say no to a particular request because then I’m effectively saying ‘yes’ to doing something that will help me grow my business.

2. Offer an alternative

If you can’t start a project at work this week maybe you can offer to start it next week?

3. Take time to consider the request 

Assess the pros and cons before you refuse to take on a piece of work your boss has requested that you do.

Consider if it will it help you with your overall career goals. Will it be a good opportunity to network, increase your salary or gain exposure to a different team? If it helps with any of these goals then it may be in your interests to take it on for its wider benefits.

4. Say no in person 

If you are able to refuse someone’s request face-to-face then the message is likely to be better received as you can lose the intended tone in an email.

5. Ask for help prioritising

Ask your boss if you need help prioritising your workload. Discuss together what can either be postponed for a few days or delegated to another team member. It’s even possible that such a discussion might bring about the realization that actually, this ‘thing’ is no longer required.

6. Practice 

If you are normally a ‘yes’ person then start small or practise with friends or family.

Once you’ve said no a few times you’ll get more confident with it and you’ll also start to enjoy the benefits of having some more time to say ‘yes’ to the things that you actually want to do.

So, my biggest challenge that I have set myself this month is to say no to more things without feeling guilty.

Please feel free to join me. You’ll be amazed how liberating it is.


Caroline Arnold 

Executive Coach

M: 07886 794 742

W: www.carolinearnoldcoaching.com

T: @carnoldcoaching

F: Caroline Arnold Coaching

I: Carolinearnoldcoaching

How To Choose The Right Executive Coach For You

Clients come to me for one of two reasons:

  1. Because they have a problem of some sort.
  2. Because they want to achieve their full potential in their professional and personal lives and they think having a coach will help give them a competitive advantage.

Those clients that come to me because they have a specific problem often finish our sessions with the observation that if they’d signed up to an executive coach sooner then they might have been able to prevent the problem in the first place. And THAT would have saved them a lot of energy and anxiety.

So, if you’re thinking about getting an executive coach but are still undecided let’s remind ourselves of the benefits to be gained from committing to a coach.


The benefits to the individual

  • Preparation for role/career changes and joining the board
  • Enhancing personal impact and performance
  • Improved leadership and management skills
  • Increased productivity
  • More effective working relationships
  • Increased revenue through more focused action
  • Greater integrity in managing and decision making
  • Fewer negative effects of stress
  • Better balance between personal and professional life
  • Improved career planning
  • Greater confidence
  • Focus on solutions rather than problems
  • Break through any barriers holding them back
  • Develop greater awareness and understanding
  • Understand and navigate their interpersonal relationships
  • Gain clarity and learn to think creatively
  • Deal with change

That’s a lot of benefits so why wouldn’t you have a coach?  Usually it comes down to time and cost.

Most coaches offer a 30 minute coaching call which most people can fit in somewhere in their working week.

As for the cost – well I agree that it can be a barrier for some. But if you want to discuss going for a promotion which would increase your salary by 10% surely a few sessions with a coach would pay for itself?

Also, many companies will now pay for you to have a coach so it’s worth asking them. If your company isn’t sure then why don’t you remind them of the benefits that they’ll gain from you having coaching?


The benefits to the organisation

  • Greater commitment from employees
  • More creative outlook in business planning
  • Improved management of other staff
  • Improved revenues and profits
  • Improved organisational performance
  • Retention of high performers and greater staff loyalty
  • Less absenteeism
  • Enhanced operational efficiency and flexibility
  • Improved staff morale and motivation
  • More effective development and performance of new team members
  • Unleashing of the potential of teams and improvement in their efficiency and performance
  • So how do you choose a coach?

It’s worth asking yourself a few questions which will help you choose the right coach for you.

1. Can this coach help me achieve my professional growth objectives?
2. What do you want from a coach?  Does your proposed coach specialise in that area?
3. Do you want face to face or Skype?
4. How often do you want to see a coach? Once a week or once a month?
5. How long do you want to see this coach for? Do they have the capacity to take you as a client?
6. Do you feel that you can be open and honest with this coach?
7. Do you want to spend time with this coach?

So now that you know the benefits of coaching for you and your company and you’ve found the right one how do you get the best out of the relationship?


Making it a success

1. Feedback
This is a two way process. So if something isn’t working then tell the coach – they aren’t mind readers. If you feel that you’re being pushed too much or not enough then give them this feedback. The more honest you can be with your coach the more they can help you and the more you will get from the sessions.

2. Commit
Once you’ve put the coaching sessions in your diary commit to this time. Block out time before and after if you can so that you can be in the right headspace for the session. There’s nothing worse than worrying that you need to rush to a meeting straight after.

3. Action
You’ll have most likely agreed what action you are going to take from the session. Commit to doing this so that you don’t just talk about it for an hour and then fail to follow up. This is where you will see the real change so take action!

If you’d like to discuss having an executive coaching programme with me then please feel free to connect with me, drop me an email or phone me.


Caroline Arnold 

Executive Coach

M: 07886 794 742

T: @carnoldcoaching

F: Caroline Arnold Coaching

W: www.carolinearnoldcoaching.com

Get More Productive At Work

I don’t know about you but I think one of my favourite things to do is to book a holiday. I love the excited anticipation of having a few days away – whether with my loved ones or a group of friends to go exploring new places, eating a little too much from the buffet and enjoying a cocktail and ice cream by the pool whilst enjoying a book.

However, there’s always a little part of me that starts to panic at how much I have to do before I go and how much there’ll be to do when I get back. Do you get that as well?

I am at that excited stage now as I have just booked a holiday in June to attend a friend’s wedding in Italy. I know the next few weeks are going to fly by and so I’m already thinking about how best to organize my time so that I can enjoy my holiday.

I started to think about what I needed to achieve before I went and I remembered that I always get so much done on my last working day before a holiday as I know there is no option to leave it till tomorrow. So I thought I’d write a blog on how you can be more productive at work allowing you to get more stuff done every day – and not just on the last day at work before you depart.

1. Turn off social media

Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest are the biggest time wasters ever!  I’m so thankful that they have been created as they really help me keep in touch with friends and grow my business. But I can lose hours if I am not careful in posting pictures, liking friends statuses, retweeting articles that I think my followers might find interesting and congratulating people on their new job.

It’s great to know what’s going on in the world and keep up with everything that’s happening in my friend’s lives but it doesn’t help me to complete my to do list and it won’t help you either.

I now have to keep my phone in the kitchen away from my desk otherwise I find myself just “quickly checking” twitter when it vibrates and then losing focus on what I was doing.

Now, I’m not perfect so I do admit to cheating on this rule if I know a friend is going for an interview or moving house or something equally important to them. In that situation I’ll send them a quick message to ask them how it’s going and kid myself that it will only be a minute.

However research shows that switching tasks can lead to more stress and frustration as you struggle to get everything done. Also, it can take up to twenty-three minutes to become focused again on the task that you were doing before you interrupted yourself. The more complex the task the longer it will take you to refocus.

I’m going to take a guess that you’re probably like me so I recommend that you only check your phone at a specified time such as a lunch break and on your bus ride home. Otherwise leave it in your handbag in your draw at work and don’t look at it.

2. Action list

Get into the habit of doing a brain dump and writing a list of everything that you have to achieve and then order it from what’s urgent and important to it “would be nice but not critical to get done”.

I write my list on a Friday afternoon so I’m clear on what I’m doing when I sit down at my desk on Monday morning.  I then find that I don’t suddenly remember on a Sunday morning as I watch Sunday Brunch about emailing someone or changing a meeting time and can enjoy my weekend.

3. Block out time

Once you have made your list schedule these activities into your diary.  It may be that the first and last hour of every day is best for clearing your email inbox and making any phone calls.

The morning is the best time to do any strategic or big project work as you’ll feel more alert then. Towards the end of the day you may do more administration tasks when feeling less creative.

When I was doing a lot of recruitment in my last corporate HR job I use to schedule a whole morning on a Friday to make briefing calls with recruitment agencies. It really helped me block out my diary and clump tasks together so that I could be focused on that one task that needed to be done and it helped my colleagues know that on Friday mornings I would usually be on the phone and wouldn’t be able to help them till lunch time.

4. Eat That Frog

If you haven’t read the book “Eat That Frog” then I highly recommend that you do. It has some great tips that you can quickly action to become more productive. The book talks about getting the hard things done first so that you’re motivated and focused to do everything else knowing that you’ve  accomplished the most difficult/unpleasant tasks of the day. Here’s an Amazon link to the book.:http://amzn.to/1SnksWn

5. Take breaks 

If you don’t take a lunch break then you may want to check out my blog about “Why You Need To Take That Lunch Break”. By taking a break you will feel more focused and energized for the afternoon’s work and you’ll find that you get a lot more done.


6. Change your mindset

If you ’re someone that tells yourself that you’ll leave work when you’ve completed everything then I would take a guess that you probably don’t leave the office before 7pm.  But try changing your mindset and saying to yourself that you’re going to get all your work done by 5.30pm every night because you’re going to meet friends, go home and see the kids or go to the gym. That way you’ll make an extra effort to get everything done and be out of the office by 5.30pm.

Research shows that we can make work expand to fill as long a day as we want. And I think that we can all agree we don’t want to be in the office at 8pm every night.  So start telling yourself you’re leaving at 5.30pm.

A favourite tactic of mine that you might try is treating every day as if you’re going on holiday the next day for a month and everything has to be done that day. Whenever I do this I always manage to cross off so much on my to do list!

7.  Environment 

Your working environment can make a big difference to your productivity at the office. Take a few minutes to assess your current office set up and see if there are any changes that you need to make.

  1. Make sure that your chair and desk are at the right height and if you can work at a variable desk try standing for a few hours every day – you will really notice the difference. I tend to sit at my desk in the morning and then stand in the afternoon which helps me stay more alert especially at 3pm when I find my energy levels are at their lowest.
  2. If you’re allowed pictures in your office then have one of a nature scene as research shows this will help calm you.

3. Try and shut out noise as much as you can or have a white noise playing in the background. This will help you zone out of the other noise in the office.   I use Calm wesbite  https://www.calm.com and have the Mountain Lake noise playing on my computer. It has the added benefit of being nice to look at on your screen when you’re on the phone.

8. Personal well being

Looking after your self will make a big difference to your wellbeing, which in turn will help you to be more productive at work.

1. If you’re new to mindfulness then check out my blog “Benefits of Mindfulness” which gives practical tips for practicing mindfulness.


2. Get exercise – if you can, get at least thirty minutes of exercise every day then you will really notice a difference in your work productivity.. As the weather gets nicer why don’t you grab your colleagues and go for a walk together at lunchtime? This way you’re getting exercise while building stronger relationships with your team.

3. Read Miracle Mornings by Hal Elrod, this is a great book, which will help you start the day on a really strong footing.   http://amzn.to/1XEFlxC

4. It’s important to get up and move occasionally so set a reminder on your computer and every 90 minutes get out of your chair even it’s only  to walk to the printer or top up your water glass.

9. Nutrition 

Looking after your body by being aware of what you are drinking and eating will help you maintain your energy and concentration levels.  Try drinking at least 2 litres of water, eating a great brain boosting breakfast and having healthy snacks by your desk such as fruit, cut up vegetables and nuts.


If you’ve found this blog helpful then why don’t you come over to my website and sign up to my newsletter so that you don’t miss the next blog.


Caroline Arnold 

Executive Coach

M: 07886 794 742

E: info@carolinearnoldcoaching.com

T: @carnoldcoaching

F: Caroline Arnold Coaching

W: www.carolinearnoldcoaching.com

Why You Should Take That Lunch Break

The other day I looked out of my office window and thought how lucky I was to live in such a beautiful city as Bristol.

So taking advantage of the gorgeous spring day I threw on my trainers and went for a quick twenty-minute walk along the harbour. I came back had a salmon and avocado wrap followed by a banana and then sat down for the afternoon feeling more energized and focused than I had 45 minutes earlier.

So ladies I have a question for you. Do you take your lunch break?

“No, of course I don’t” is the usual reply. Followed by “I’m far too busy”, “It’s not encouraged in my office” or “I will be at work even later at the end of the day if I take a break”.

If you are the 1 in 5 who does take a lunch break then well done you. I hope that your colleagues learn from you as I can imagine that you are a lot more focused than they are in the afternoon.

If you currently aren’t taking a lunch break then it’s time to reassess and claim back your break. If you’re thinking to yourself: “I’d like to but I just don’t have time” then check out my latest blog for why you need to do it.

The benefits of a lunch break, even if it’s only for twenty minutes, can make a huge difference to your afternoon’s productivity. So it’s a shame that so many people work in a culture where lunch breaks are frowned upon. Or, worse still, not taking them is seen as something commendable – as saying ‘I’m far too busy and important to have a lunch break.’

I’m sure you don’t really need me to tell you that no one is that important. Nor how beneficial taking a break is. But if you’re reading this blog it’s likely that you don’t – so let’s remind ourselves:


1. Increased energy 

By taking a break, especially if you’re able to get some fresh air and exercise, you avoid that afternoon slump so common at about 3pm. This is when the typical lunch of sandwich, crisps and a chocolate bar results in energy levels plummeting and a struggle to stay awake rather than getting work done.

2. Higher productivity 

As you benefit from an increase in energy you’ll find that you’re more productive because your concentration levels have increased making it easier to focus on your work. If you’ve been lucky enough to get a walk around a park you may find this a good time to do any creative work.

3. Team building 

Should you go out for lunch with your colleagues then this gives you an opportunity to build on your relationship with them and form stronger connections with those that you share the office with.

If you’ve been working on a project in the morning that you’re struggling with then you could ask for their help or opinions and perhaps brainstorm some ideas that you hadn’t considered. They may have experienced similar problems and you could find that, when you return to your desk, you have the solution.


4. Fresh perspective 

By taking a break you can return to your desk with a fresh pair of eyes. That way you’ll find it easier to spot any mistakes that you may have made on any drafts you were working on. Plus you’ll have a clearer idea of what decisions need to be made to complete your work that afternoon.

5. Try new places

If you’re going out with your colleagues, as well as building a stronger team relationship, lunchtime might be a good opportunity to try new any new restaurants near the office. Plus there’s the additional benefit of taking the time to enjoy your food. Isn’t that better than a hastily eaten BLT at your desk? Or worse still devouring the contents of the biscuit tin. There’s a road to piling on the pounds if ever there was one.

6. Back to nature 

If you’re lucky enough to work near a park then lunch is the perfect time to get some fresh air and exercise. It will help improve your afternoon mood and levels of concentration and reduce your stress levels.

Invite your colleagues along with you and you can get fit together.  Getting outside will also top up your Vitamin D level, which encourages the production of serotonin (a hormone that plays an important part in the regulation of mood). Taking a break from your desk and moving around also prevents the onset of musculoskeletal disorders.

If you’re managing a team then encourage everyone to take a break. You may find that you notice reduced sickness and lower turnover as you have happy staff and an increase in customer service. With these benefits can you afford not to take a lunch break?

Still not convinced?  Why not give it a try every day next week and see the benefits for yourself. Go for lunch with colleagues, go for a walk together (ideally in a park), read a book, do a spinning or yoga class if there is a gym nearby and enjoy taking a break and the benefits that come with it in the afternoon.

So, put it in the diary and start on Monday. Don’t feel guilty that you’re taking a break and grab your whole team so that you can all benefit.

If you have found this blog helpful why don’t you come check out the website and you can sign up to the weekly newsletter.

Caroline Arnold 

Executive Coach

T: @carnoldcoaching

F: Caroline Arnold Coaching

W: www.carolinearnoldcoaching.com