We’ve all experienced at least one of the types of procrastination. A deadline looms on the horizon, the to-do list item never disappears, and we never accomplish the task.
Why do people procrastinate? Logically, being a procrastinator makes no sense. It’s a behavior that induces anxiety and shoots us in the foot during the long run. Avoiding doing necessary things brings relief in the short-term, but can be catastrophic in the long run.
We’ve broken down the causes of procrastination into four general types. Read on to understand these four flavors, and how to deal with procrastination.
Types of Procrastination #1: The Lucky Optimist
Some people are optimists. They believe everything will work out – and it often does.
Putting off a task causes them little stress since they expect it to be simple. Why get started now when you could wait until the last minute if it’s all going to work out? Instead of starting early and putting a check in the box ahead of schedule, they wait until the last moment (and hope for the best).
This strategy works for some (until it doesn’t). After all, unexpected problems can come up. Sometimes a task proved to be far more complicated than expected. The sheer terror an impossible to-do item induces when a deadline is just around the corner is enough reason to beware of your optimism.
Types of Procrastination #2: The Overloaded
Have you ever looked at a massive to-do list? How does it feel to see so many items, and not be able to wrap your mind around them? Did you find it hard to get started?
You might have experienced one of the common types of procrastination: being overwhelmed. With too many things to pay attention to, you pay attention to none – and nothing gets done. To make matters worse, this type of procrastinator is never able to relax fully or fully work.
This inability to entirely focus or rest leads to psychological burnout, since there’s never any time for enjoyment. Exhaustion leads to less productivity, and this spins into a vicious cycle of fatigue and unproductive procrastination.
Types of Procrastination #3: The Pleasure-seeking Avoider
As humans, we’re hardwired to avoid pain. This avoidance leads to procrastination.
This type of procrastinator comes in two flavors that sometimes overlap. The first has a difficult time forcing themselves to do something uncomfortable. They shy away from the pain of anything unpleasurable – which can lead to other problems in life.
On the other side of the same coin is the second flavor. This type of person chases pleasure. They may not be consciously avoiding the task. Still, when something more appealing is available, they choose to do that instead (and begin to fit the stereotype of a digital nomad perpetually on vacation).
Types of Procrastination #4: The Perfectionist
How does it feel to do a task, but know it’s not the best you could have done? Do you have a list of partially completed (but never finished) projects? If it bothers you, you’ve probably fallen into the trap of procrastination by perfectionism.
This perfectionism is a typical flavor of procrastination since many of us spent our lives being told by parents, teachers, and society to do the best job possible. There’s nothing wrong with that – it’s best to live up to our full potential.
However, it becomes a problem when it causes us to avoid starting and finishing a task. The fear of not being perfect, and the overwhelming effort required to make something as perfect as possible makes it impossible to get started.
How to Overcome These Types of Procrastination
Do any of these procrastinator types sound familiar? Try these tips to make your time more productive and stop putting off tasks.
- Don’t schedule in more work than you can handle. Set aside time for enjoyable activities to recharge you, while also setting aside time to focus on work.
- If you find yourself often getting distracted, set a timer for a few minutes before starting a task and take this time to check your social media, emails, texts, or whatever else you find distracting. Then, throw on your best noise cancelling headphones and get started on your work with profound focus.
- Do you still find yourself procrastinating? Instead of watching TV or doing other unproductive things, procrastinate on your primary task by knocking a few other productive items off your list.
- Set deadlines for yourself. Even better, tell someone else about it. You might let yourself down by procrastinating, but it’s more difficult when we feel that we’re failing someone else’s expectations for us.
- Don’t worry about doing the perfect job. Focus on accomplishing the goal. Make a list of the last five things you did that weren’t perfect – but they were sufficient. Be efficient and work smart.
- If something only takes a couple of minutes, do it now. Go make that phone call you’ve been putting off (and use Krisp to ensure the clearest call quality). Don’t let small items pile up and mentally overwhelm you.
- When you find yourself facing a task that you can’t bring yourself to start, set a timer for fifteen minutes. Commit to working on what you need to accomplish. Once you’ve gotten started and built momentum, you might find that fifteen minutes effortlessly turns into an hour or longer.
- Accept that (at least) half of the things you do in a day won’t be things you particularly want to do – but you’re going to do them anyway.
- Visualize the end benefit of your task. Will you earn money? Learn a new skill? Focus on the reward instead of the pain of the job.
- Break larger projects down into smaller tasks to avoid being overwhelmed. Knock each item off your list one by one.
- Start a task with a “quick win” – a small, rewarding, simple portion of the project that only takes a few minutes. This easy victory builds momentum.
- Make sure the task really does need to be done. What is the one job you can do that makes the other tasks irrelevant? Maybe your procrastination is your subconscious telling that the task at hand isn’t that important.
- Imagine procrastination is a villain that’s coming to your bank account every day and taking your money. It is. Fight it.
Why Are You Still Waiting? Get Started Beating These Types of Procrastination.
Some have said that pain comes from the knowledge that you’re not reaching your full potential. Procrastination is one of the easiest (and most common) ways to fail to accomplish your tasks and achieve your goals.
Did you find yourself in any of these types? Consider these types of procrastination, and use these tips to create the best version of yourself that you can be.
Next section: Best Tools and Resources to Work from Home