08/09/2013 02:29 pm ET Updated Oct 09, 2013

5 Reasons Your Anti-Procrastination Efforts Aren't Working

The other week, I attended a wedding and sat next to a very handsome (and very single) medical resident. He told me tales of pulling 16-hour shifts (normal for a resident) and how, as a result, things like cooking or life errands just weren't on his mind. For example, several times, he noticed the water in his apartment wasn't as hot as it used to be. Weird, he thought, but he continued to pull through his days. And then one day, he found himself showering in ice cold water. Only then did he realize that he had forgotten to pay the bills!

I tell this story because it illustrates how unaware we may be when it comes to spending our time effectively on the job. By spending your time without mindfulness, you may find yourself overwhelmed and running out of time, well, all the time. You may not find yourself standing under an ice cold shower, but you could be running late more often or passed up for promotion because you're not focused and it shows. Next thing you know, you bring the stress home and it's ruining your love life (or the potential for one!).

Whether it's to prepare for that promotion or to find your dream job, here are some things you may be doing wrong -- and tips for getting yourself back on track!

You focus on the big vision and not on bite-sized tasks
Overwhelm happens when we're not sure how to take the first step because we're not focusing on the exact tasks that need to be completed. And so we shut down and do nothing instead. Breaking the big vision down into manageable tasks that are ridiculously easy can make it easier for you to get started. An example of a vision is, "I want to find a meaningful career," whereas an example of a task is, "Reach out to five people by email to talk about what it's like to work in their industry." When you focus on the tasks, your vision will become clearer over time and overwhelm will be less of an issue.

You are a planner and doer all at the same time.
Planning and executing tasks takes up time and energy, so to save both, write down the tasks in the order they need to be done ahead of time. One of my clients, a creative visionary, found that writing down his to-do list ahead of time helped him because he didn't have to spend energy coming up with the tasks the day they were due. Are you planning your day ahead of time?

You aren't specific as to when you will do something.
Someone once told me, "If it's not scheduled, it's not real." The more specific you get about when you'll complete the task, the more likely you are to do it! Commit to a specific day of the week and time.

You wait until you "feel like it" to do it.
If we waited till we felt like it, we would never get anything done! You can write down all the thoughts that hold you back and respond to these thoughts with productive ones. You can respond to, "I don't feel like it," and, "I'm too tired," with, "I'll feel good after I'm done," and "Getting started is the hardest part, but once I start, it will get easier." Motivation is not a feeling, it's really a thought coupled with action.

No one is holding you accountable.
Having a coach to hold you accountable increases the likelihood of actually following through with your goals. If you want to hold yourself accountable, ask yourself, "What would a top performer do?" Pick someone you would like to be. It could be that partner in the firm or someone who has attained a level of success that you look up to. If you find yourself trying to weasel your way out of your commitment, ask yourself, "What would (insert name of top performer) do?" Would she, at her level of achievement, not follow through?

By breaking your vision down into manageable tasks, planning your day the day before and having someone hold you accountable, you will begin to follow through with what you set yourself up for. Interestingly, it's not so much time management that we all need, because everyone has the same 24 hours in a day. Rather, it's by bringing our intention and awareness to the time that we have now that frees it up. You may find that you have more time than you think you do.

Catherine Chen, Ph.D., is a Health Coach who believes that you are important, no matter what you achieve. She works with high-achievers to move past the guilt, frustration, and overwhelm that prevents you from living a life of passion and purpose. Sign up here to get a video series on finding your awesome at

This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post in conjunction with our women's conference, "The Third Metric: Redefining Success Beyond Money & Power," which took place in New York on June 6, 2013. To read all of the posts in the series and learn more about the conference, click here. Join the conversation on Twitter #ThirdMetric.