Procrastination, is there anyone who doesn’t get to deal with it? According to Tim Urban: no. As he explains in his TED-talk (also the most amusing TED-talk I’ve seen), we all procrastinate on something, even the most disciplined planners among us. Why? Because there’s a lot of important stuff in life that doesn’t come with a deadline. Think about adopting healthy habits or spending more time with family and friends. Most of us fail to follow through on our ideals in our everyday lives, here and now instead of the ever tomorrow.
A refreshing look on procrastination was shared by @fairygoldmuva on twitter. She explains that procrastination is really an attempt to avoid negative emotions by seeking temporal relief: “You avoid the task by doing other tasks that don’t bring you those emotions, therefore it is not laziness. To rid yourself of procrastination tendencies, you must find ways to address, and manage, those emotions. The emotion isn’t always stress – it could be grief, anger, traumatic, etc. You’re not lazy. You’re just sad.”
So, now we know that procrastination is more complex and can have many different reasons. Let’s zoom in at six types of procrastinators: what makes them tick and what tips and tricks might help them change their ways? You’ll most likely recognize yourself in more than one type. I for one recognize myself in all types to a certain extent, but especially in the overworker and dreamer.
The perfectionist procrastinates finishing off her tasks to protect herself against possible failure. To overcome procrastinating, this type has to switch striving for “perfection” to work towards “excellence”.
Ask yourself: What am I trying to prove?
Your challenge: learn to decide on how much effort is fitting for a specific task. How?
- Define your own time limit within which you’ll finish a task: when you don’t finish within this time, ask others to (temporarily) help you
- Practice imperfection: make a mistake on purpose every day
- Make a list with practical, executable things to do daily
- Prioritise: what’s most important comes first
The overworker procrastinates her own wishes and needs, because she always says “yes” to what others ask her to do. This type has to acknowledge her limitations: just as anyone else, you cannot do everything.
Ask yourself: Why do I feel the need to always do more?
Your challenge: Learn the difference between priorities (what you want to do) and demands (what you think you should do). How?
- Keep a schedule of what you do in a day
- Every day, make a first list of all the tasks you can think of: then, cross off the things you don’t really want to do, place a ‘P’ for things you’re likely going to procrastinate (pay extra attention to these), and make sure that there are also fun, relaxing tasks on the list
- Learn to take breaks in order to relax and try to enjoy unexpected free time
The dreamer procrastinates the actual living out of her ideas, because she’s stuck in her dream world of endless possibility and bliss. To tackle procrastination, this type has to train herself to make the distinction between dreams and goals.
Ask yourself: What is keeping me from acting on my dreams?
Your challenge: Become more concrete by changing dreams to specific goals that can be reached by taking specific steps on a specific time. Start planning! How?
- Write down a timepath on paper
- Buy or make a big calendar and learn to use it
- Use two lists: one for daily tasks you have to do and one for things you have to think about
- Every day, plan one special task you’ll execute, next to your usual tasks
- Start doing more active things instead of passive (like watching Netflix – ouch, I know) to get used to doing stuff
The challenger procrastinates putting energy in her own goals, because she’s focused on rebelliously rejecting what others want her to do. It seems like the challenger is pretty good at standing up for herself, but her behaviour often doesn’t give her the outcome she wants.
Ask yourself: Why do I feel resistance?
Your challenge: Shift the attention from what others do to you to what you do to yourself. How?
- When someone asks you to do something, learn to see it as a request instead of a demand
- Teach yourself to recognize when you feel indignant
- Stay away from using language that has to do with guilt or attack
- Get used to taking your own decisions and follow-through on them
- Follow assertivity training and learn how to negotiate
The adrenaline seeker
The adrenaline seeker procrastinates until the very last moment, because she’s focused on the kick and doesn’t set clear goals. This type is most congruent with Tim’s TED talk: she is motivated by stress and has to learn to focus on the positive, active aspects of tasks.
Ask yourself: Why does starting on things feel boring to me?
Your challenge: Seek other motivating factors outside of stress by making working on tasks more enjoyable. How?
- Make a game or bet out of a task
- Think about how a certain task can teach you something or help you reach other things that are important to you
- Exercise! Get that adrenaline flowing
The overthinker procrastinates taking decisions, because she doesn’t like change and has low confidence in herself. This type has to challenge herself to stop thinking negatively and think about possible positive outcomes.
Ask yourself: What am I afraid of?
Your challenge: Simplify things for yourself. How?
- Every day, do at least one small, doable thing you’ve been putting off for a long time. Doing this will help you remember how it feels to be content about doing something well.
- Pick up your own motivational slogans. Give yourself that peptalk, girl!
- Spend more time with optimistic people
- Divide big tasks into smaller tasks in order to keep overview
What type of procrastinator reminds you the most of yourself? What type do you want to hear more about or what questions do you have? And what tip are you looking forward to trying out first? Let us know!