Procrastination is the archenemy of productivity. Some people waste hours and hours just avoiding the task they will eventually have to do anyhow. This goes from students who delay the moment they start working on their homework, up to top professionals who are overwhelmed by the amount of work in front of them. The purpose of this article is to provide helpful advice to better understand procrastination and how to overcome it.
The five typologies of procrastinators
There are lots of reasons why people put off work and choose to spend their time involved in more pleasurable activities. However, most of these reasons can be categorized into five main typologies. Keep reading and see if you can identify yourself in one of them.
1. The perfectionist
The perfectionist type tends to procrastinate because they are never satisfied with their work. They are mostly afraid of failure and of being judged by others, which makes them mismanage their time. Trying to get everything right, they spend too much time on one component of their project, leaving everything else for the last moment, or avoid starting the task at all until it’s too late.
In the end, they rush to meet the deadline, which makes them more prone to making mistakes and seeing their fears becoming reality.
2. The impostor
Greatest fear of the impostor is for others to realize they are not as good, or smart, or intelligent as they seem. People who fall under this category tend to have low self esteem and live their lives with the feeling that others have a good opinion about them because they posed into someone they are not.
So, when it comes to work and projects, they delay the moment as much as possible so they wouldn’t have to face the moment when those around them will see them for what they really are.
3. The disagreeable
These are the people who usually have no problem getting work done, unless it’s something they find boring or disagreeable. Simply put, they avoid doing things they don’t like, even when there is no way out of doing it. It’s in the natural state of human beings to resist activities that create discomfort.
4. The fatigued
Overwhelmed by the amount of work they have to do, the fatigued doesn’t really know where to start, or how to manage their time. So they put off the moment when they will actually need to make a decision and get things going.
5. The adrenaline seeker
Believe it or not, some people need to feel a high level of adrenaline pumping in order to work at their best. These are most often characterized as smart but lazy. Being aware that they are smart and having a history of pulling off difficult tasks at the last moment, the adrenaline seeker tends to procrastinate until the last day before the deadline. Getting away with it every time encourages them to follow the same course of action over and over again.
Once you have discovered the category of procrastinator you fit into, it should be easier to find solutions tailored for your specific problems.
How to defeat the procrastination monster
Each of the typologies described above can find the right tools to defeat their personal procrastination monster. Here are some strategies that might suit some types better than others but should, in the end, help anyone fight procrastination.
Learn to prioritize
This skill is particularly valuable for the fatigued. Prioritizing your tasks correctly will take off some of the pressure that makes you feel overwhelmed and leads to procrastination.
Use the Eisenhower Matrix to classify tasks into 4 main categories:
- Urgent and important -> must be dealt with ASAP
- Not urgent but important -> can be done later
- Urgent but not important -> delegate it
- Not important and not urgent -> don’t do it at all!
This will help you take things one step at a time and guide you into the right direction.
Break it down
The perspective of a big project with a lot of work attached to it can be a huge source of anxiety for anyone. You can, however, trick your brain into seeing less of it by breaking your tasks into smaller chunks. Treat each of these pieces as a separate phase of a project, with its own deadlines.
This strategy will make even the most fanatic adrenaline seeker have their work ready on time.
Align your goals
Perfectionists, more than anyone else, need to feel a strong motivation to push them ahead. Making sure that your work is aligned with your medium- and long-term goals can give you the right motivation.
You need to remind yourself why you are doing what you are doing, and how it is going to affect your life.
Eat a frog
Mark Twain used to say that if you eat a frog every morning, nothing worse can happen to you for the rest of the day. In the world of productivity, the frog is the equivalent of the most disagreeable task.
Push yourself to solve that task first thing in the morning and anything else that would follow that day will seem pleasant in comparison.
Enjoy small victories
The impostor needs small and often accomplishments to remind themselves that they can actually do the job. One way to do that is by scheduling your day to add small victories among longer and more difficult tasks.
This will keep your self confidence up and get you through the day with a minimum of procrastination.
Never give up
Most importantly, you should remember that for most of us procrastination is a bad habit. And no one can get rid of bad habits overnight. Replacing the bad habit of procrastination with one of the strategies discussed might be the safest bet.
In the end, you should keep pushing yourself and celebrate every time you manage to do better than before.