The Six Styles of Procrastination

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Hey, it’s like a quiz! Don’t you love taking quizzes? Identify your particular procrastination style and try the suggested solutions. Or try any of the solutions that appeal to you, even if you don’t match the style. If it works, it works.

These definitions come from the book It’s About Time, by psychologist Linda Sapadin, condensed by me. You may have characteristics of several types; that’s okay. Pretty normal, actually.

The Perfectionist
These people don’t want to finish, or even start, a project that they fear won’t be perfect.  They waste time refining and honing their work, but adding no value.

How to overcome:

  • Set absolute deadlines.
  • Devise other criteria and adhere to it.  Remember that anything can be improved infinitely.  There’s no ending point for improving something.  You have to pick an end point and stick to it.
  • Most of the details you’re worrying about won’t matter in the end
  • Keep in mind how much effort you can afford, given everything else that’s going on in your life.

The Dreamer
These people are better at ideas than execution.  Actually doing the work seems tedious and boring.  They are vague about how to make things happen and tend to believe they’ll be magically rescued.

How to overcome:

  • Make plans in writing
  • Talk to others regularly to “test your reality”
  • Give yourself specific tasks to do, some routine and some that make your dreams reality
  • Use a timer to keep yourself on track and honest.

The Worrier
These people fear risk and always worry “what if?”  They put off acting if it means doing something unfamiliar or uncomfortable

How to overcome:

  • Remember that avoiding decisions is still deciding
  • Motivate yourself by focusing on the positive outcome you desire
  • Break down your tasks as small as possible to circumvent fear

The Defier
These people hate feeling controlled by others.  The feel oppressed by mundane chores.  “You can’t make me” is their line.

How to overcome:

  • Realize that people are requesting you to do something, not demanding it
  • Don’t take it personally!
  • Do what you know is right, even if it means “giving in.”

The Crisis Maker
These people are adrenaline junkies.  They thrive on and even create near disasters because they’re exciting.

How to overcome:

  • Don’t wait to feel excited about a project.  That might not happen until you get involved in something.
  • Satisfy your need for speed in more benign ways, like speed cleaning your kitchen.
  • Before you act, focus on how you’ll feel later, not just in the moment.

The Over Doer
These people are indecisive and unassertive.  They say yes to everyone and then get stuck.  They over commit and burn out.

How to overcome:

  • Realize you aren’t superwoman, and you’re fine the way you are now.
  • Don’t let the priorities of others take precedence over your own.
  • Remember that you are already in control of your time.  You are choosing what happens to you.  Let that empower you to make positive decisions.

Still stumped? You could get a few customized tips to deal with your particular brand of procrastination during a free 20 minute consultation. I’m offering this for another week or so. Jump on it!

4 thoughts on “The Six Styles of Procrastination

  1. I think I’m somewhere between the perfectionist and the over-doer. Working on curbing both tendencies though! Great distinctions though. Perhaps we all have a little of all of them in us at different times! So different advice depending on what “persona” we are living in at that moment is perfect!

  2. Yes, I think we all procrastinate for different reasons at different times. I think I’m mostly a dreamer, though, with a bit of worrier and a bit of perfectionist. I definitely prefer thinking up ideas!

  3. Thanks for the post there must be some other types. I know I’m a procrastinator but I couldn’t identify myself in any of those six. How about the self saboteur? This person is an over achiever, get’s tons of things done but tends to procrastinate those most important things which would equal his or her ultimate success.

    How to overcome this: Realize the world doesn’t need you to play small.
    Understand your responsibility to be absolutely the best you could be.
    Face those things you fear, your greatness, take them head on by recognizing the fearful thing, the risky thing, and doing it BECAUSE it’s risky.

  4. Don, I like your list addition. It’s true, that one is a recognizable type and should be included. Lots of people are very productive, yet what they spend all that time doing ultimately isn’t that important. Thanks for your comment!

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