How often do you put off doing things you know you’ve got to do? Do you even realise when you’re doing it?
If you’re anything like me, it probably happens more than you’d like to admit.
But, did you know that if you keep putting things off, over time, it creates habit? Your reasons (or excuses) for not doing something become consistent, even normal, and you identify as one (or more) type of procrastinator.
In this 2 part series, I’m going to share with you 9 types of procrastinator, followed in part 2 by showing you a number of ways you overcome this inner demon and get things done.
We all experience it. We know we have something that needs to be done and yet we find any number of reasons not to do it.
It doesn’t matter if its trivial everyday tasks like washing the dishes, or potentially life-changing events like starting your own business or starting a family. You know you need to take action, possibly even what you need to do, but you don’t.
“There is something more important I need to do first".
“I don’t have all of the skills or tools I need”.
“I can’t afford it right now”.
“I’ll wait and see what happens at my next performance review”.
“I’ll do it after this next episode of [insert favourite Netflix show]”
“I’ll do it after I’ve read this blog”.
These are a few of the many things we tell ourselves, and others, why we can’t do something now.
But in fact they are all examples of our making a clear decision not to act.
Once you recognise this, you can start to consistently overcome procrastination and start clearing your ‘to do’ list.
The next time you find yourself putting off doing something, make a note of your reasons (you know, these really are excuses). Start to build a picture of your habits so that you can recognise when you are doing it in the future.
Types of Procrastinator
We’ve established, perhaps unwillingly, that when we procrastinate we make excuses. But these excuses often reflect the way we approach other areas of our life. They reflect our personality.
That’s because we build our personality over time, through learned behaviour. It sets our thought process and our typical response to, well, everything. So, we see similarities in how we deal with different situations.
Let’s take a look at the types of procrastinator - do you recognise which you are? Be honest. How many do you see in yourself, and does it sound similar to other areas of your life? Does it reflect part of your personality?
1. The Perfectionist
But this has to be a good thing, right? ‘Perfect’ is surely the best outcome to aim for in any task? But in reality perfectionists tend to achieve far less, and stress more than other procrastinators.
That’s because perfectionists set very high standard for themselves. They fear failure and want to avoid embarrassment or appearing vulnerable by making sure they get it right first time. They want everything to be ‘just so’ before taking action.
They need to have as much detailed information as possible, and have all of the right tools to undertake a task.
The perfectionist can constantly find reasons why the time is not quite right to take action.
2. The Overwhelmed
Overwhelm is common and can easily make it feel like there is simply too much to do. The overwhelmed feel anxious about the task or tasks in front of them and don’t know where to begin, so as a result they don’t begin at all.
3. The Imposter
The imposter doesn’t want to be found out. They believe they are not good enough or qualified enough to achieve something. They fear being seen getting it wrong or making a mistake and so to avoid this, they avoid doing anything at all.
4. The Comparer
Similar to the imposter, the comparer doesn’t believe they are good enough, but the reason is different. They compare themselves to others, they see other people doing more, achieving more, getting results and believe that they are not as good. So, they let others succeed instead of themselves.
5. The Lazy
The lazy amongst us constantly find excuses for not doing the simplest tasks and struggles with motivation. They can’t be bothered. They find it too hard, too tiring or not interesting. They avoid taking action on things that don’t give them instant gratification because the effort is too great, and not worth the investment. It’s easier to do nothing.
6. The Futurist
The futurist lets worry about the outcome stop them progressing. They are fearful of what will happen next or “what if”? For example, they want to start their own business, but if it goes well, they might have to employ people, or move to premises and they don’t know how to do that. Or don’t want to do that. In this fear, they don’t start at all.
7. The Listener
The listener is easily influenced and discouraged by others. We’ve all experienced the advice of friends and family. “You’re better off doing it this way”, “why do you want to do that?”, “that sounds too good to be true?”. They find the advice that supports not taking action and follow it.
8. The Pressured
These individuals use putting things off to their advantage, but as a result reward their own procrastination. They work best under pressure, the deadline upon them. So, they leave it until the last moment to make a start.
The downside of this approach is that over time they believe that it is the best, and sometimes only, way to get things done. They allow themselves to leave everything to the last moment.
9. The Jumper
Like the pressured, the jumper does at least have the motivation to take action. But I include them because action is very often short lived, and jumpers don’t follow through. They lack commitment. They lose interest. If they don’t see results quickly they move on to something else, leaving their initial task unfinished.
Which Are You?
Have you found yourself anywhere in the list above?
I know I have. I’m a perfectionist. I’ve known it for a long time, and it was evident in my professional career.
But, I recognise myself in some way in most of the list. I can certainly Identify with ‘The Overwhelmed’, ‘The Comparer’ and, if I’m honest with myself ‘The Lazy’.
Don’t despair though, now you understand procrastination and what type of procrastinator you are - there is a way to work around it, and to take action.
In my next post I’ll show you how!
For more, please check out my website www.liveyourultimateself.com