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The Ultimate Guide - 6 Types of Procrastinators

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A few things that you need to know about procrastination

  1. You can put things off without being lazy. When you put things off, you put off living.

    Neil A. Fiore explains in The Now Habit.

    The problem of most procrastinators is that they never really take time for guilt-free play. They feel guilty for procrastinating and then don’t allow themselves time for leisure. This leads to a precarious situation where very little real work gets done while simultaneously very little play gets done.

  2. Accordingly to Tim Urban in his TED Talk: Inside the mind of a master procrastinator, it's your emotions. You are responsible for procrastinating, not your logic. He calls it the gratification monkey.

  3. The problem is not about the task but how you treat it. Accordingly, to the DUST Model of procrastination by Graham Allcott, there are 4 reasons why we procrastinate. We think of the task that it is too difficult, or unclear, or scary, or tedious.

The Six Styles of Procrastination

1. The Perfectionist Procrastinator

bl-Perfectionist-Procrastinator

Source: lifehack.org

The typical behaviors: You are concerned with meeting high expectations. You work so hard to finish, or sometimes you never start. You wanted improved quality when you didn't work for long enough to optimize. You may waste your time by giving too much time to irrelevant details. You feel dissatisfied and always want to add one more change.

Solution:

  • Focus on progress toward your goals.
  • Engage in positive self-talk.
  • Set time limits for each task.
  • Learn to make mistakes—really—do so deliberately and see what happens!
  • Another solution can be lowering your standards allows you to get started or keep going. Tim Ferris, the best-selling author of The 4-Hour-Work Week, talks about lowering your quota in his interview with Leo Babauta.

The biggest problem is that people bite off too much. Make your quota low so you can “succeed” each day. One hugely successful ghostwriter (50+ books, including NYT bestsellers) told me his secret to success: just two crappy pages per day. That’s all he had to write to “win” for the day, and of course, he often wrote more. Ditto for IBM salespeople for decades. They sold the most because they had the lowest quotas and therefore weren’t intimidated to pick up the phone. They didn’t put it off.

2. The optimistic procrastinator

bl-Optimistic-Procrastinator

Source: Deepstash.com

Accordingly to Dewitte, Siegfried, and Willy Lens in the European Journal of Personality

Optimistic procrastinators put off their intentions and do not worry about it because they are confident they will succeed regardless of when they perform the task.

The typical behaviors: You overestimate your skills and underestimate the challenge. Your goals may be too small, or you didn't break the big goals into daily tasks. You may even tell everyone how easy it is or what you plan to do.

Solution

  • Commit to a deadline, or make it a challenge to get it done as much as possible.
  • Use Implementation Intentions to predetermine how you will behave in a future situation. Peter Gollwitzer, the inventor of implementation intentions, refers to them as ‘instant habits.’ For the implementation intention to work, you need to pick a cue which can be a specific time in the future, a thought, an emotion, and link it to behavior. When such and such happens, I will do such and such. For example, when I book a session in MyFocusSpace, I will write my blog post of 500 words. You program your unconscious mind in this way. Whenever you set up the situation, cue "if," your brain scans the environment for the cues, like the child in the classroom who is dying to be seen by his teacher and raises his hand. Crazy right? Peter Gollwitzer says that it's done almost unconsciously. You just need to set up the cues for your brain o pick. Once your brain links the cue with the action - you create a habitual behavior - automatic and with less willpower. Whenever your unconscious takes over and directs you towards the action without much willpower, this is powerful. If you are not into the science of habits, I would advise you to read Scott H. Young's work.

3. The disorganized procrastinator

bl-Disorganized-Procrastinator

Source: Ideas.TED.com

The typical behaviors: Your poor time-management/prioritization skills are setting you back. You hate routines because you feel they take away your freedom, but then you never have time to do what you love. If you find yourself procrastinating, you will rather finish what you're doing instead of your important work.

Solution: 

  • Use Eisenhower's Matrix, which is a simple tool for considering the long-term outcomes of your daily tasks and focusing on what will make you most effective, not just most productive. It helps you visualize all your tasks in a matrix of urgent/important. All of your day-to-day tasks and bigger projects will fall into one of these four quadrants:
bl-The-Eisenhower-Decision-Matrix

Source: todoist.com

4. The busy procrastinator

bl-Busy-Procrastinator

Source: lifehack.org

The typical behaviors: You're multitasking. You have over-committed and have no time left. Even if you have time, you sometimes don't see the point in spending time on those tasks. You get about 70% done off your endless to-do list but don't see results. You want to spend time will all your favorite projects.

Solution:

To determine the right activities for achieving your A-goals, you must (1) list the possible activities for each A-goal, and (2) set priorities to allow you to select the most effective activity right now. When you have a list of so many activities and not enough time for all of them, the time has come to set priorities for all of them.

First, you can eliminate the low-priority tasks. Ask yourself: Am I committed to spending a minimum of five minutes on this activity in the next seven days? If the answer is "no," cross that activity from the list. Pick a priority for now. Each day select one activity to work right away towards your goal. Make that activity as short and as feasible as possible. Once you've singled out and defined this one task, you've given yourself a clear priority for the day.

5. The guilty procrastinator

bl-Guilty-Procrastinatinator

Source: NJlifehacks.com

The typical behaviors: Your interpretation of failure is preventing you from working. You accept distractions because you already lost, but then think things will eventually fix themselves. You feel people are mad at you or don't understand your limited position.

Solution: 

  • Forgive yourself. Without a doubt, procrastination is something that accompanies us for many years on certain tasks, projects, goals in the future, and no matter how hard you try to fight it, we will set face setbacks. Choose self-compassion over self-criticism.

NJlifehacks wrote a compelling article on this.

Self-compassionate people are more oriented toward growth and more likely to get real about their goals by creating specific plans to achieve them. Their self-compassionate attitude helps them preserve their self-efficacy beliefs, allowing them to quickly set sails on new ventures after failure. They also have more intrinsic motivation and pursue learning rather than performance goals, meaning they’re driven by the healthy desire to learn and grow rather than an unhealthy desire to escape self-punishment or get external validation. Because they are not terribly afraid of failure, they engage in less self-handicapping behavior (e.g., procrastination).

Furthermore, because they don’t beat themselves up after falling off the wagon, they are more likely to stick to health-related behaviors such as exercise, weight-loss goals, or quitting smoking. Last but not least, self-compassionate people can acknowledge areas of needed improvement, admit mistakes, and take responsibility for past actions, enabling them to learn and grow.

Next time when you want to criticize yourself after you procrastinate, please stop and forgive yourself.

6. The distracted procrastinator

bl-Distracted-procrastinator

Source: waitbutwhy.com

The typical behaviors: You may love your work, but other tasks seem more appealing because you gravitate towards the path of least resistance. You spent most of your day on minor tasks. You never feel like being 100% present at work or play.

Solution: 

  • Block your distractions. Plan days where you reward yourself generously to make smaller temptations less attractive.
  • Use the Unschedule: An Effective Time-Planning Method to Beat Procrastination, which was invited by Neil A. Fiore. Instead of scheduling in the calendar the things you procrastinate (work - e.g., tasks, projects, etc.), you first schedule the fixed commitments (e.g., sleep, meals, showering, etc.), guilt-free play (hobbies, reading, recreation, meeting your friends), self-care activities (e.g., exercise, meditation), including at least one hour of play a day and one full day off per week. I wrote a full article on how to apply The Unschedule Method.
  • Reward Yourself Every Time You Overcome Procrastination. When you combine effort with rewards, you can teach yourself to associate work with something that you like. Getting rewarded for the efforts leads to high effort in the future - this is called "learned industriousness."

Conclusion

Neil A. Fiore explains in The Now Habit.

The problem of most procrastinators is that they never really take time for guilt-free play. They feel guilty for procrastinating and then don’t allow themselves time for leisure. This leads to a precarious situation where very little real work gets done while simultaneously very little play gets done.

Stoic philosopher Seneca says it perfectly.

“People are frugal in guarding their personal property, but as soon as it comes to squandering time, they are most wasteful of the one thing in which it is right to be stingy.”

When you look at procrastination from the point of view that we waste our time, this becomes scary. Stop putting living off. Start pursuing your dream now. Be the person you want.

After all, what if tomorrow never comes? How would you see your life in the moment of death?

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I would love to hear your personal stories of procrastination. What strategies do you use to get motivated and beat procrastination?

Leave a comment below, and as always, thanks for reading!

Other Resources:

How to stop procrastinating - https://www.njlifehacks.com/how-to-stop-procrastinating/

6 kinds of procrastinators - https://www.reed.edu/academic_support/pdfs/handouts/6 kinds of procrastinators.pdf

Optimistic vs. Pessimistic Procrastinators- https://understandingprocrastination.wordpress.com/category/optimistic-vs-pessimistic-procrastinators/

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