Which type of procrastinator are YOU?
Perhaps you don’t ever procrastinate, but if you’ve identified with either of my last two posts, you may have a procrastination issue or elements of the typical mind-set.
There are many reasons why someone puts things off, but studies have found common habits amongst different types of procrastinators. Here are a few of them – do you recognise yourself at all?
With the rebel it’s all about control. Tasks that are self-generated are done with ease, but if duties or projects have been handed over or delegated by someone else, an automatic rejection kicks in and the job continually slips to the bottom of the pile. Anger or resentment is at the root of this procrastinator’s actions: ‘I’ll do it when I’m ready, not when I’m told!’ Unconsciously, they may want to prove a point but it’s unlikely their stance will be recognised, which causes more resentment and anger next time. Far better they choose behaviours that will serve their career, not sabotage it. Finding the root of the anger or resentment would also help.
Perfectionism may seem like a strength, but as this procrastinator’s mind-set is rooted in fear and anxiety, you’d be wrong. Terrified that they won’t be able to complete the task, or that they’ll be judged as a result, they’re averse to starting it in the first place. The standards they fear they won’t meet are commonly self-imposed, as they demand such high results. Because they fear doing only an average job, their belief is that they’re more likely to remain ‘excellent’ if they don’t attempt it at all. Remembering that it’s okay to fail, and that sometimes, we have to prove ourselves is key. Irrational beliefs and assumptions prop up this mind-set; patience and constructive feedback from someone they trust may help dilute it.
This procrastinator feels at home putting off tasks and challenges. They spend a lot of time in denial, almost in alternate realities, as they daydream their way through life (which is too short, in their mind). Often seen by others as self-indulgent and only interested in fun, these procrastinators don’t distinguish in what they put off, as it can be ‘everything’. Work is boring, and therefore, the most tedious tasks in particular will languish, incomplete, or they’re never attempted at all. Combatting this mind-set is learning to find stimulation and fun in your work. Because life is unhurried and meandering to the serial avoider, it’s often only when they get a good dose of reality or an immovable deadline/boss that they make an effort to address their ways.
The harbinger of doom
It’s going to fail; everything’s a crisis; making mountains from molehills are all thoughts and actions of the doom-monger. Cynical and anxious, they believe there’s no point starting a task because it’s doomed from the outset. They’re similar to the nit-picker; however, they don’t own their fears, instead, they project them onto others with wild, sweeping statements about what’s going wrong and a continual need to find fault. Often contributing to some of the very problems they fear, the harbinger of doom needs encouragement to see the bigger picture and other points of view. Learning how they’re negatively impacting a task may help them see how their behaviour comes across.
Stress doesn’t just feature with this procrastinator, it gobbles them up! Though they fear failure, like the nit-picker and harbinger of doom, they don’t often get to consider a project in its entirety as they’re too bogged down by the finer details, and the pressure, pressure, pressure they bring. Dread floods the pressure-cooker before a task is even started that, unsurprisingly, sees procrastination occur. This isn’t a help to the pressure-cooker, however, because if stress is avoided, guilt sets in and the pressure exacerbates. This procrastinator’s confidence needs to be built up in little measures, as a result of small successes. Strong support and breaking tasks down into bite-sized chunks will help alleviate the pressure they feel.
These procrastinators collect work until it’s overwhelming. They never say no and love to people-please, to their detriment when they wake up to a desk creaking under the amount of work they’ve voluntarily taken on. An incapability of knowing where to start, or who to let down first, paralyses them, and they instead choose random tasks to feel as if they’re still helping whilst ignoring the meatier, more relevant work waiting for them. Too fearful of admitting they’ve taken too much on, as deadlines loom, they appear calm on top of the water but underneath they’re thrashing about wildly in panic. This procrastinator needs help to recognise the trap they fall into, and support with polite refusal.
So, do any of my interpretations sound like you? Or are you a mix of more than one type of procrastinator? Does procrastination hinder the progress of your career?
If you’d like help with procrastination, do not hesitate to get in touch with me on 01302 220021, or email me via firstname.lastname@example.org.