You have an important assignment due in 12 hours. Fervently, you start “researching” for materials. Before you know it, you’ve fallen into the slippery vortex of reflexive Facebook checking. In between, you just had to do your laundry, organise your socks drawer and clean up your desk because yes, you need the space to work!
If your desk gets tidier as your looming deadline approaches, you’re probably very familiar with the effects of procrastination.
But why do you fall prey to procrastination?
To crack the riddle, you’ll have to first examine your procrastination style. Understanding the reasons behind why you put things off until it’s really crunch time can lead to crucial insights.
Here are five common types of procrastinators, and the best tactics to help zap the procrastination bug!
#1. The Perfectionist
Perfectionists are always knocking themselves out for the best, and hence, are regularly a victim of self-criticism. For some, the fear of failing (read: producing work that is not up to par) can be so overwhelming that it actually impedes them from starting anything.
Even if they manage to get started on work (which the other kinds of procrastinators typically struggle with), they still fail to finish when they can’t attain the idealistic expectations they’ve stamped for themselves.
You’re a “Perfectionist” if…
You often find it gruelling to initiate a task because the thought of getting every detail perfect is so… overwhelming. Once you’ve (finally) started a task, finishing it can be equally tough as you want every detail to be in place.
How to beat it
- Steer clear from waiting for conditions to be perfect to get started. Trust that you have everything that you need to get going in the task, and that you will discover more wonders once you get the ball rolling.
- Try glancing back at the last five tasks you completed. Now ask yourself, were they all perfect? Probably not. Were they sufficient? Most likely yes. Pinning down the times when you didn’t do the perfect job, but the consequences were the same as you did, will help you a long way in crushing your perfectionist routine and bringing procrastination to a halt.
- Hold off from doing everything at once because you’re not a superhuman! Structure your time into clear blocks with the Pomodoro technique. It breaks down work into 25 minutes of productivity, followed by a 5 minute break.
#2. The Dreamer
Dreamers yearn to sail through life with a breeze. For the same reason, they skip out on anything that might prove difficult or distressing, ultimately driving to… yes, procrastination. They may have all sorts of great ideas of what to do but when it boils down to details, they loathe it. This makes their fantasies and dreams difficult to implement.
Subscribing to the musing that they are special individuals, this type of procrastinator sometimes (unconsciously) counts on the wonder of fate to intervene at some point in life for things to be magically sorted out.
You’re a “Dreamer” if…
Whimsical, abstract thoughts are so your thing, and you rather indulge in them than to deal with the real-life actions that need to be taken. You’re great at planning and scheming, but you’re easily frustrated with the reality of having to sit down to follow through with a task.
How to beat it
- Give it a go at spinning your dream into a goal: define what, when, where, who, why and how you will complete it. These goal-setting apps are a good start to help turn your dreams into reality!
- Keep a to-do list and assign yourself a few tasks each day. Check out this list of to-do apps and find one that speaks to you, whether it’s a simple pop-up review of everything you have on your plate for the day, or an app that turns your to-dos into a game.
- Dig out a good old wind-up alarm clock or set a timer as a way to remind you when to get work. But we’re not here to take away all the fun, so do schedule some time for creative dreaming.
#3. The Worrier
Worriers tend to be clocked up with a cascade of “What ifs” day in and day out. Coupled with a lack of confidence in their abilities, they are prone to delay or avoid doing things altogether. Given their worrying nature, worriers are also indecisive and hence, tussle with commitments.
These manners inevitably shape them to be dependent on the people around them for advice, reassurance and help.
You’re a “Worrier” if…
Many tasks seem risky or unnecessary to you. Hence, you prefer to reside in your comfort zone and avoid changes. And because you loathe the unknown, you tend to avoid making decisions and resist change.
How to beat it
- Repeat this mantra: not making a decision about a task or action, is itself a decision. Then turn your nerves into excitement by answering your “what ifs” with multiple backup plans.
- Learn to make realistic judgements about the time and effort required to wrap up a task. Here’s an app that lends a hand in breaking down important tasks into manageable bite-sized steps to reduce anxiety.
- Try batch processing, which encourages you to focus on a specific task as opposed to multi-tasking. This helps to calm your nerves, especially if you feel overwhelmed by the number of things on your plate. Apps like Self-Control are fantastic when you want to stay focused. By customising the list of websites you want to block and the period they’re blocked for, you avoid falling into the black hole of Facebook and email-checking.
#4. The Thrill-Seeker
We all know that one person who piddles around on Facebook until it’s five minutes to midnight before finally kick-starting a task that was supposed to be done eight hours ago. While we roll our eyes in disdain, this type of procrastinator swear by the euphoric rush of last-minute work. Thriving on adrenaline rush to get things done, fear conveniently rules as a means of motivation.
However, when they delay things until the very last second, the stress can occasionally be too distracting and thus, making it unfeasible to focus.
You’re a “Thrill-Seeker” if…
You procrastinate because you actually relish in the rush of wrapping up things at the last minute. You feel that you’re most creative or at your best when your back is up against the wall. Better yet, you love the adrenaline gush from handing in work at the last possible minute.
How to beat it
- Chew over this notion: People who claim that they ONLY work under pressure are possibly emitting an illusion that that’s when they get their best work done. In actuality, they would have done the same, if not better, with more time.
- Draw up a reward system for different milestones in the task and make sure the milestones are significant and personalised for you. Whether it’s munching on chocolate or watching a TV show, you’ll get to enjoy rewards along the way rather than exhausting your adrenaline by racing through the task.
- Avoid counting on last-minute stress as your sole driving force. Get your craving for adrenaline fixed with other activities, like these.
#5. The Overdoer
The overdoers or the busy procrastinators live by the motto “So many things to do, yet so little time”, as they are just too busy to actually get down to the bottom of their to-do list. Everything seems equally important and often, they struggle to decide what to lay their hands on first.
Whether they’ve chosen to take on too much or there’s just too much work piled on their plate, the sheer thought of getting it done shrinks them from doing anything at all. Overwhelmed, they believe choosing only one task would mean forfeiting the others.
You’re an “Overdoer” if…
There’s just too much to do and it’s hard to figure out where to start! You find it difficult to prioritise, and sometimes, you tend to take on too much and procrastinate on one task for the sake of completing other tasks. It’s also possible that you struggle to say no or set appropriate boundaries. In return, there’s never enough time to do it all.
How to beat it
- You’ll need a huge dose of prioritising. Often, the reason we keep flipping back and forth between various things at once is because we haven’t weighed which one is most important. Evaluate the importance of tasks beforehand and throw in most of your effort on the task with the highest priority instead of gravitating towards simple tasks that your brain automatically craves.
- At the start of your day (or even better, the night before), lock down which tasks are the most important. Employ Susan Weinschenk’s 80/20 rule: 20% of the work you do is responsible for 80% of your effectiveness. Single out the 20% and put your mind to it.
- Gizmos like the Kanban board can help you organise your tasks into backlog, current work and future work. The Eisenhower Matrix lends a hand in prioritising your tasks by gauging the importance and urgency of each task.
So what type of
time waster procrastinator are you?
The odds are high that you view yourself in more than one of the aforementioned styles, but you’ll also probably relate with one more than the rest. Now that you are aware of what type of procrastinator you are, you can then start working on how to change your attitude and break free of the procrastination bug!