Category Archives: Catalyst Business Academy

How to overcome procrastination

Most people are guilty of procrastination at work for one of a variety of reasons:

  • The task is difficult or unpleasant so you either don’t want to or don’t know how to do it
  • The task is a small one, it won’t take long and can wait until later
  • The task is huge, it’s difficult to know where to begin
  • The task is low priority, you will do it when you’ve finished more urgent things
  • If you delay the task, it might not need doing at all
  • You don’t want to run out of work; you might look expendable.
  • You do your best work under pressure so let’s wait for the task to become a more urgent matter

To deal with procrastination, focus on the result, not on the process. Think about how satisfying it will be to get that monkey off your back and do this any time you start to feel unmotivated or negative about the task.

If you are tempted to leave the task thinking if you ignore it for long enough it will go away then you are taking a risk. It could suddenly become something that needs top priority and you end up having to start from scratch to get it done quickly – meaning the quality suffers. 

Try the following recommended techniques for overcoming procrastination:

  • Tackle the job you least want to do first thing when you get to work. You will experience a great sense of achievement and the day can only get better after that.
  • If you’re not sure how to do the task, analyse exactly what information you need and where to get it. Seek help now rather than on deadline day when no one is around.
  • The task may be simple but sometimes the unexpected happens and you have no contingency time left. Schedule a start time for the task on your ‘to do’ list and get it done.
  • Break down large tasks into manageable chunks; scheduling each with both a start time and finish time, and tick them off on completion.
  • You may believe you do your best work under pressure, but this attitude can convey an arrogant disregard for others whose input or participation is needed. Set a new earlier, deadline to allow for any unavoidable delays.
  • Promise yourself a reward on completion of the task. This works well if you are a ‘towards’ person – someone who is motivated by moving towards the attainment of targets and goals. This is also known as a pleasure motivator.
  • You may, however, be an ‘away from’ person, in which case, the painful consequences of not completing the task may be so dire that they give you a real kick-start to get it done. To activate this kind of motivator, imagine the worst consequences of not doing the task, and then multiply the seriousness of these consequences 100-fold. Not surprisingly, this is known as a pain motivator.
  • Finally, you could set yourself a challenge. Decide how long you are prepared to work on this task for and then use a digital timer to count down the minutes until it alerts you with a ‘ping’ that your allocated time is up. This works particularly well with mundane tasks such as filing or a housekeeping activity on your PC. You will find yourself competing against the clock to see how much you can achieve before the time goes.

There is an unwritten law around the concept that work expands to fill the time available. However, if you do complete all your workload, this leaves you time to be proactive and seek new opportunities that could enhance your career and professional standing.

Post courtesy of People Alchemy – for access to the Alchemy for Managers online resource visit


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Feedback or criticism?

One source of feedback that we all use, when available, is other people. We notice how other people react to what we are doing. Their reaction might be positive, negative, planned or spontaneous.

Whatever their response, or lack of it, we will draw conclusions about what that response means. We are then likely to modify our behaviour based on those conclusions, especially if we consider the other person credible. Feedback drives us to change.

We modify our behaviour based on the conclusions we draw about someone else’s behaviour. How do we know our conclusions are correct? How do we know for sure that their behaviour was in response to ours?

Maybe that smile was a sign of approval for our actions, or maybe our actions just reminded them of something funny, or maybe they were daydreaming about a joke from the pub last night and didn’t even notice what we were doing.


Most feedback we get from other people is unintentional: that is, they don’t have a planned outcome in mind. They just react, and we then react. It is an informal process, but nonetheless very powerful.

As a manager, you need to be conscious of this power, and to be aware of what your body language and behaviour might be saying to people, because they will use it as feedback. To improve your informal feedback to others, you should be consistent in your approach and behaviour. 


A small proportion of the feedback we receive from other people is given by them on purpose. And this kind of personal feedback can be incredibly useful.

In an ideal world, the other person gives us valid and useful information about what we are doing with our best interests in mind. In a less-than-ideal world, we sometimes get criticism.


We all know about criticism and the damage it can do to us – to our confidence and self esteem. But what is criticism and how is it different to feedback?

The simplest way to tell the difference is to consider whom the comments will benefit. Are they for the benefit of the giver or the receiver?

Feedback is for the benefit of the receiver. Its purpose is to help them grow and develop, and reinforce positive behaviour or actions.

On the other hand, criticism always benefits the giver. In most cases, it is done to make the giver feel in some way superior to the receiver. It is often negative and judgemental. It is in many cases subjective rather than objective and it is usually destructive.

Types of feedback

  • Purposeful feedback can be divided into two types:
  • Positive feedback
  • Constructive feedback.

Positive feedback

Positive feedback is also known as ‘praise’. This type of feedback is mainly used as a motivator. It recognises the good work that someone has done and rewards them for it.

Constructive feedback

Constructive feedback is letting someone know that they did not do something in an appropriate way, or that they did something incorrectly. The message is constructive and helps the individual to improve, rather than just being a message about what they shouldn’t do.


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Time Management – how you can be more efficient at work

Time is something we all have and that, famously, waits for no one. “I just haven’t got the time” is a common workplace complaint and it can be frustrating when everybody wants a piece of your time, tasks start to build up and it can become overwhelming.

So, here are some tips and on how you can better manager your time, get more things done and ultimately feel more satisfied at the end of your working day.

Group and prioritise your activities

  • Use lists. Create a list of all the activities you are involved with and put them into groups/categories
  • Prioritise. Think about what your main objective is and which group is most important in terms of achieving that goal

Make a daily To Do list

  • Get into the habit of updating it at the same time on a daily basis. Remember, human beings are habit machines so do this regularly and it will become second nature.

Set your priorities 

  • Label them as High, Medium and Low Value and keep the list in a prominent place  where you will always see it and it’s always accessible.

Tackle each item based on its value, starting with the High ones

  • It is also a good idea to have a list of small tasks to be completed for when you need a break or you have some spare time – which you are sure to have when you follow these time management tips!

Make sure you limit your To Do list to one that is achievable for that day

  • That way you will have that overwhelming sense of achievement when you finish work at the end of the day.

Don’t put off the things

Don’t be tempted to postpone the tasks that you dislike and, by the same token, include things you do enjoy. It will help give you the juice to keep going.

Allow for unexpected interruptions

  • Have a contingency plan in place for those interruptions which are unavoidable. If you deem any of them unnecessary then see what can be done to minimise them or at least the chance of them happening.

Set time limits

  • For when people ask for your time such as a meeting request, and be firm about it. If it’s not suitable offer up an alternative solution such as a different day.

What do you find works well when it comes to time management? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.


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The role of the manager in employee engagement

Employee engagement is not only affected by how the organisation as a whole treats and values its staff, but by all the interactions an employee has in the work place. Managers have a significant impact on employee engagement; they play a key role in sustaining it and undoubtedly can also turn it off.

Think about two roles that you have had: one where you loved going to work and performed at your best and one where you didn’t want to go to work, underperformed and frequently looked for another job.

What was it in each case that supported the way you felt about that role? Was it a great manager or a poor manager? Was it the role itself that you felt passionate about and were interested in? What did the organisation do to support staff? Was there anything else in the role that was affecting your performance?

Armed with the answers to these questions, you’ll have a clear view of some of the key requirements for employee engagement.

Below are some more practical tips for ways to support employee engagement and maximise your team’s performance. So that you can decide where to concentrate your energies, take time to consider in which particular areas there is room for improvement within your department or team. There is plenty of more detailed information in several topics.

The following tips are by no means exhaustive. These are just some ideas about what managers can do to engage with their staff as a team. This can be expanded to all your interactions with other staff in the organisation and your customers too.


Talk to your team about what’s happening in the business, about work in the team and, importantly, them as individuals. Get to know your team members and what is important to them; don’t just play lip service to this – they will know if you are faking an interest, so be genuine!

Remember they are all unique, just as you are, so they might not like the same things, feel the same way or want the same things! Failures in communication can often arise because it’s too easy to assume that everyone else thinks as we do.

Hear them – listen to what they say, seek their thoughts and don’t just dismiss their views, opinions and ideas. 

Make time for your team – ensure you are available to members of your team when they need you and help them to find their way around the organisation.

Have fun!

This might sound odd, but having fun at work breeds excitement and energy and these are some of the key signals of engaged employees. Imagine an excited employee talking to a customer versus a disheartened employee talking to one – which customer do you think would come back again?


An important part of your responsibility as a manager is to take an interest in developing the individuals in your team, making sure they feel valued, they have the opportunity to hone their existing skills, acquire new ones and generally feel a sense of purpose.

  • Actively support them in their development, seek opportunities and ways to help them grow and reach their goals. If you don’t know what their goals are, find out!
  • Empower them to make decisions and take ownership of projects
  • Trust them to do the job and to come to you if they need to
  • Ensure they have everything they need to do the job and do it to the best of their ability
  • Be flexible, open to new ideas and ways of working

Post courtesy of People Alchemy – for access to a the Alchemy for Managers online resource visit


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We could be heroes: Self coaching and how to go about it – Part 2

Self coaching is a very useful tool and if used correctly and appropriately can be very effective in helping you take the initiative and make a positive change. If you missed Part 1 of this blog post, it can be found here.

Now we will continue to look at what tools you can use for self coaching. 

Action Learning Sets

An action learning set is a group of individuals who gather together over a period of time to explore a particular topic. Between meetings, the members of the set go away to explore issues back at work that are related to the topic. They then bring their experiences to the next meeting and discuss them with the whole set. Coaching yourself can assist you in getting the most out of an action learning set and vice versa.

During a 360 degree feedback process

Some organisations use either ad hoc or regular 360 degree feedback processes. If you are actively coaching yourself, this is likely to assist you in completing the 360 degree questionnaire, getting the most out of the feedback from the whole process and acting on it to further develop yourself.

Mentors (real or virtual)

This might be someone within or outside the organisation that can act as a mentor. You can test out with them the ideas and reflections that have come from your self coaching. Nowadays, mentoring can be face to face, on the phone or via email. 

You might be asking what virtual mentors could be. Well, even if you don’t have an actual mentor, or if you cannot contact them when you need to at a particularly challenging time, there is an exercise that can help you to tap into a mentor’s wisdom. Virtual mentors are people who you call on in your mind, rather than in reality. They could be dead, alive, fictional or real, mythical, historical, known to you or famous. Your mentor could even be an animal: for example, some people have a courageous lion or wise owl as a mentor.

The following exercise works well if you have a decision to make or are facing a difficult problem. You can do it either in your head or on paper, and it can work very well if you walk around and step into the different mentors’ shoes. The latter tends to be the most effective way of doing this exercise, so you will need a private space for it.


Step 1 Think about the issue or question you are facing.
Step 2 Think of three virtual mentors whose wise words about this particular issue you would like to hear. Perhaps mark a space with paper on the floor where they would stand.
Step 3 Take one of the mentors and step into their shoes, onto the piece of paper on the floor. As you stand in their shoes, imagine you are them. From their perspective, look at you, back where you were first standing. From their shoes, give yourself some words of wisdom, encouragement, support and/or inspiration to help you in the situation you are facing or the decision you are making.
Step 4 Step back into your shoes and take on board these wise words.
Step 5 Repeat steps 3 and 4 with each of the other two mentors.
Step 6 When you are back in your shoes, take on board the wise words from all three of your mentors. Then look up and visualise yourself acting on these wise words.
If you want more information on our coaching courses, or indeed any of our leadership and management seminars and workshops, visit our website or you can speak to one our team on 0207 436 3636.
Post courtesy of People Alchemy

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NLP – how can it help you succeed? Part 2

NLP, or neuro-linguistic programming to give it it’s more intimidating title, is all about changing the way you approach situations, they way you think about them and then your behaviour in dealing with them. Ultimately, the end goal is use certain techniques in order to be more successful in everything you do.

Part 1 can be found here for the first six presuppositions of NLP or remaining six.

7. People are not their behaviours.

This means that you accept the person, even if their behaviour is unacceptable to you, given your map of the world. If the behaviour is not useful to them, you can support and assist them to change that behaviour.

There is a distinction between self, intention and behaviour. We often get these muddled up. Take the time to separate these, especially in difficult situations with other people.

Consider how you would want others to view you. How many times have you done something and thought later ‘I don’t know why I did that. It just wasn’t me’?

8. People have all the resources they need.

People do not lack resources. They can, however, experience  less resourceful states where the resources are out of reach. This means that in a different and more resourceful state, they can accomplish whatever they choose.

9. If someone else can do it, then I can do it.

If someone can do something, then, barring physical limitations, it is possible for anyone. There are no limitations to a person’s ability to learn. 

10. The part of a system with the most flexibility will have the most influence on the system.

This is the sometimes called the Law of Requisite Variety. It means that the more choices you have, the more options you have and therefore the more likely you are to be successful within the system you are operating in.

11. There is no failure, only feedback.

If a person does not succeed in something, the key is to learn something; treat what’s happened as feedback and thus do something different next time around.

Consider failure as simply meaning that you have not succeeded yet, and make it an opportunity to learn. Failure is just a label for the result you did not want, but it is a label with a sense of finality and dead end. Feedback is another label for the result you did not want and it offers hope of eventual success.

12.If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got.

So if what you’re doing isn’t working, do something else!

And remember, it is easier to change your own behaviour than anybody else’s.


Remember, we are not saying that all these are true, though they might be. We are simply saying that they are a useful set of beliefs that offer you a more successful approach to life, an approach that will bring improved results if you act as though they are true.


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NLP – how can it help you succeed? Part 1

NLP, also known as Neuro-Linguistic Programming, essentially is just a way of thinking. NLP has identified a set of beliefs that have proved useful; in other words, it has been observed over time that you and I will get better results if we act as though these beliefs are true.

Have you noticed that some people get consistently better results in their lives than others? Ever wondered how they do it?

You probably already realise that it is largely about their approach to life, their way of thinking about life. So, what do they do that is different?

Presuppositions of NLP

1. The other person’s model of the world deserves respect.

In NLP, the set of beliefs we develop over time is called our ‘model of the world’. Since we each develop our own model of the world, based on our own experiences, our model is true for us.

Another person’s model is equally true for them, and just as valid as ours. It thus deserves respect in the same way that we would wish them to respect our own model. It is not our responsibility to change another person’s model of the world through an attempt to convince them that ours is better. 

2. The meaning and outcome of communication is in the response you get.

We are generally taught that if we clearly communicate our thoughts and feelings through words, the other person should understand our meaning. We know from experience, however, that this does not always happen. The only way you can determine how effectively you are communicating is by observing the response you get from the person you are communicating with. If you get a response that indicates that they did not understand, then your communication was faulty. You therefore need to find a different way to get the concept across.

Acting as though this is true means that you accept 100 per cent of the responsibility for effective communication. You cannot ‘blame’ somebody else if your communication does not succeed.

3.The map is not the territory.

The model of the world which we create is what we use to navigate through life. We use it like a map to navigate through our reality. The map we use is not the actual reality, any more than the map in your car is the real countryside. It is simply an incomplete representation, which includes inaccuracies and errors, just as your road map can get out of date and not show absolutely everything that is there.

Each of us acts according to our personal map of reality, not reality itself. We operate and communicate from our maps. Most human problems are caused by the maps in our heads. Think about this; it is easier to change the map than the territory.

4. The mind and the body affect each other.

The mind and the body are one unit, fully interconnected. It is not possible to make a change in one without the other being affected.

5. People are doing the best they can with the resources they have available.

People set out to do well, not poorly. We do the best we can with what we have at the time in the way of resources.

6. Every behaviour has a positive intention.

A person’s behaviour has a positive intent for them at the time of the behaviour. From the perspective of their map of the world, the behaviour makes sense and seeks to provide a benefit.

The intention behind a behaviour may not be obvious to others or may not be considered positive by others.

Consider how things would be different if you assumed that everything anybody did was for a ‘good’ reason. Good by their standards that is.

I will post Presuppositions of NLP 7-12 later in Part 2

Post courtesy of People Alchemy


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