vPsychology for Business

We are dedicated to bringing out the best in you and your employees

Volume 4,  Number 2                                                                                         January 24, 2003


Psychology for Business is a free e-mail newsletter written by Dr. Lynda DahlkeDr. Paul Glass, and Dr. John Weaver,  business psychologists and independent consultants. It is published bi-weekly. You’ve received this newsletter because you’ve subscribed to it or it was forwarded to you by a friend or colleague. To subscribe sign up at our website, http://www.psychologyforbusiness.com/.  If you wish to unsubscribe, please see the end of this e-mail for easy instructions

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by Dr. Lynda Dahlke, Business Psychologist and Executive Coach 

I have recently discovered the secret of how to get me to accomplish tasks that I do not want to do.  And I must say that as a psychologist I am not proud of what I found out!!  If I need to clean out a closet, just give me a task that I want to do even less.  When faced with a deadline on a difficult task, I end up engaging in activities that while needing to get done, are not a priority.  I am a PROCRASTINATOR!  Why is it that as a deadline approaches, I sometimes find myself organizing my desk or cleaning a file cabinet, rather than focusing on the project that is my “priority”?  I delude myself by thinking that these diversions are important tasks to accomplish as well, but why now


Most of us engage in some form of procrastination, at least occasionally, and some of us are “pros”.  The reasons for procrastination are many, but it is important to note that procrastination costs our organizations and us lots of money, time and emotional energy we could be using for better purposes.  So, as we begin this New Year, let us take a few minutes to see how procrastination affects us and as we increase our awareness of this problem, we can decrease its cost to us as individuals and to our organizations. 


The most common form of procrastination is waiting until the last minute to do something.  However, there are other signs that may not be so obvious.  These include getting sick when facing an unpleasant task, being hesitant to try something new, avoiding decisions or confrontations, blaming others or the situation for your unhappiness or being “too busy” to get tasks accomplished. 

Procrastination can lead to feelings of guilt, inadequacy, depression and self-doubt.  It has a high potential for painful consequences.  Procrastination inhibits success. 


The root causes of procrastination can be overt or fairly complex.  The dynamics of putting off an important task can vary from individual to individual and from task to task for the same person.  Do any of these sound familiar? 

There are many causes, as we can see, however, an overlying cause is fear.  Each procrastinator responds to their own constellation and interpretation of their fears.  Procrastination serves as an escape, albeit a temporary one, from doing unpleasant or threatening things.   


If we consider the idea that the basic issue is not “procrastination” per se, but rather procrastination is our response to perceived fears, then our path to a cure becomes more sharply focused.  Addressing irrational beliefs, underlying fears and poor attitudes will provide an important place to start taming our problem.  

Key to this process is to change procrastinating ways of thinking to a more productive style.  In his book “The Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination” by Neil Fiore, he recommends change phrases such as: 

“I must” or “have to”…                         to         “I’d like to” or “choose to” 

“This task is overwhelming”                to         “When can I start” and “how can I divide it” 

“I must do this well”                              to         “I’ll do fine” 

“I have no time to relax”                        to         “It is important to relax one hour” 

“I see life and work as a grind”            to         “Life and work can be fun” 

Listen to your own self-talk and come up with more productive, helpful phrases to replace the critical, counterproductive ones. 

Other strategies include: 

v     Identify what is necessary to accomplish a task in a given amount of time. Get a sense of the whole project. 

v     Set goals for what is to be accomplished and break these down into smaller, manageable “chunks”. 

v     Try the “30 minute plan”—Work on an unpleasant task for 30 minutes and then see if you want to continue.  Reward yourself and try to initiate as many 30-minute periods as possible. 

v     Acknowledge previous successes. 

v     Focus on your own needs and expectations rather than those of others. 

v     Examine your standards and evaluate how realistic they are 

v     Set realistic goals. 

v     Keep a record of your avoidance of important tasks. Learn about your patterns in order to set a plan to change them. 

v     “Workaholics” need to learn the value of setting aside time each day for relaxation, socialization, exercise and play. Productive, creative people need to take vacations and play (without guilt)! Schedule some fun. 

v     Modify your environment.  Minimize distractions. 

How does procrastination affect you?  You could be one of the few persons who is organized and consistently tackles problems on your own terms, however most of us engage in some form of procrastination that limits our productivity, effectiveness, and happiness.  Try one new behavior to limit the effects of procrastination—you may be surprised at how much it helps and be encouraged to do more.

As for me, cleaning closets will have to wait…I’ve got 30 minutes to put in on my next project and then I’m off to play with the dog!!


About the Author

Lynda Dahlke, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist and business consultant with over 20 years of practical experience working with individuals and groups from diverse backgrounds and levels of responsibility. She excels at delivering concise, actionable guidance and recommendations. Lynda specializes in pre-employment assessment, professional coaching, conflict management, assisting organizations to work with difficult individuals and personalities and organizational diagnostics/consulting.

Based in Waukesha, WI, Dr. Lynda Dahlke is available for consultation or coaching by phone, e-mail or in person. She may be reached at (262) 789-2728 (office), by e-mail at

Lynda Dahlke, Ph.D.
Psychology for Business
200 South Executive Drive, #101
Brookfield, WI 53005-4216

Did you know that executive coaching is not geographically limited?  Coaching by telephone is effective.  It is also an efficient use of time and resources.  You never need to leave your office to travel, nor do you need to pay travel expenses for your coach. We offer coaching either onsite or by telephone. To find out if coaching is right for you, contact us to schedule a FREE 1/2 hour consultation.  Or request a price sheet to determine the best value for your organization.  Call us at: (262) 789-2728 or email us at mailto:ldahlke@psychologyforbusiness.com.


10 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Coach
is now available for download at no charge to readers of PSYCHOLOGY FOR BUSINESS by clicking on the title or visiting http://www.psychologyforbusiness.com/questions.htm.

Also receive your copy of  9 Ways to Motivate Your Workforce by clicking on the title or visiting http://www.psychologyforbusiness.com/motivate.htm

If you are interested in having Dr. Weaver speak for your organization, contact him at mailto:jweaver@psychologyforbusiness.com?subject=SPEAK .


To order your copy of the book, MANAGING DIFFICULT PERSONALITIES IN THE WORKPLACE: A Manager’s Practical Guide, by Dr. Paul Kenneth Glass, send your name, address, number of copies desired and a check made out to Dr. Paul Kenneth Glass for $12 per book (plus $2 shipping per book).  Or order 10 or more copies for $10 per book and $6.95 for shipping (up to 50 copies).  No fluff, this book gets right to the point. Send orders to:

Dr. Paul Kenneth Glass
Psychology for Business
2717 N. Grandview Blvd. #303
Waukesha, WI 53188   

Email: mailto:pglass@psychologyforbusiness.com

To order the booklet: 41 WAYS TO IMPROVE THE EMOTIONAL HEALTH OF YOUR WORKPLACE, by Dr. John Weaver send a check for $6 and a self-addressed, double stamped business size envelope to:

Dr. John Weaver
Psychology for Business
2717 N. Grandview Blvd. #303
Waukesha, WI 53188

If you would like to order multiple copies, send an email to mailto:jweaver@psychologyforbusiness.com to request a price sheet.  Order in quantity and save.


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If you would like to learn more about Dr. Lynda Dahlke (mailto:ldahlke@psychologyforbusiness.com), Dr. Paul Glass (mailto:pglass@psychologyforbusiness.com), and Dr. John Weaver (mailto:jweaver@psychologyforbusiness.com) please visit us at our website: http://www.psychologyforbusiness.com/.

© Copyright 2002. All rights reserved. Lynda Dahlke. Distribution rights: The above material is copyrighted, but you may retransmit or distribute it to whomever you wish as long as not a single word is changed, added or deleted, including the contact information. If you would like to reprint part of this newsletter please contact me at mailto:ldahlke@psychologyforbusiness.com to make arrangements.


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Dr. John Weaver publishes another newsletter, co-authored by Darlene Weaver, THE CENTERED PENDULUMIt is our firm belief that lifelong patterns of “being” (personality, attitudes, emotions) and “doing” (lifestyle, adaptability, coping skills) interact with our genes and environment to create conditions of a healthy or a diseased brain.  If you would like to read previous issues of the Centered Pendulum newsletter or to subscribe, please visit the archives at http://www.centeredpendulum.org/newsletters.htm.