Types of Procrastinators


How to identify your procrastination type and learn to manage it. Adapted from It’s About Time: the 6 Styles of Procrastination and How to Overcome Them by Dr. Linda Sapadin with Jack Maguire, Penguin Books, 1996.

Perfectionist

I often find it difficult to begin a task because the thought of getting every detail perfect is overwhelming.

Once I’ve started a task, finishing it can be hard as I want every detail in place.

  • Focus on what’s realistic rather than what’s ideal; work toward excellence rather than perfection.
  • Seek support from others before you’re under too much pressure.
  • Make daily to-do lists with small, broken-down tasks that you can complete on a given day.
  • Commit to rewarding yourself for setting and achieving realistic goals.
  • Admit that you choose what you do with your time; work on self-acceptance skills.

“Never put off till tomorrow what may be done day after tomorrow just as well.” ― Mark Twain

Worrier

Many tasks seem risky or unnecessary.

I prefer to stay in my comfort zone and avoid change.

  • Learn to make realistic judgements about the time and effort required to complete a task.
  • Remind yourself that choosing not to make a decision about a task or action is itself a decision.
  • Don’t allow “what if” thinking to take you out of action.
  • Break down tasks into manageable parts to reduce anxiety.
  • Every day, do at least part of one thing you’ve been putting off because you’re uncomfortable about it.
  • Consider the aspects of a project that are exciting to you, rather than just the challenges.

“Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.” ― Pablo Picasso

Crisis-Maker

I feel that I work best under pressure.

I enjoy the rush of working under a deadline on a task that might otherwise seem boring.

  • Strive for moderation: avoid speaking and thinking in dramatic, emotional language.
  • Remind yourself: you may not be interested in a task until you start.
  • Identify motivators for a task and use them rather than using stress as a motivator.
  • Keep a record of your crises: what triggered them, how you reacted.
  • Create deadlines for yourself as a way to use your natural adrenaline rush to complete tasks earlier.
  • Regularly engage in activities that will give you an adrenaline rush: play competitive sports, go out with friends, or take up a new hobby.

“Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.” ― Marthe Troly-Curtin, Phrynette Married

Dreamer

Abstract thoughts are more pleasant to think about than the real-life actions that need to be taken.

I find it difficult to plan details and/or to follow through with a task.

  • Try to differentiate between dreams that are vague and goals that are specific and measurable.
  • Make your dream into a goal: define what, when, where, who, why, and how you will complete it.
  • Keep a to-do list and assign yourself a few tasks each day.
  • Use an alarm or timer as a way to remind you when to get to work.
  • Schedule time for creative daydreaming.
  • Plan out projects and tasks in writing.
  • To counteract mind-wandering, get active—explain things aloud, teach the material to someone, or tackle a small part of your project.

“Procrastination is the art of keeping up with yesterday.” ― Don Marquis

Over-Doer

I find it difficult to prioritize and say no to other demands on my time.

Sometimes I take on too much and then procrastinate on one task for the sake of completing other tasks.

  • Recognize and respect your personal limitations.
  • Rank your priorities in life and post this list somewhere. Make choices about your time in accordance with this list.
  • Incorporate time to relax into your schedule—and learn to enjoy it. Don’t feel guilty about taking time for yourself.
  • Focus your thoughts on how to gain personal control, rather than how tasks control you. Learn to say “no” to tasks when appropriate. Try saying a pleasant “no” each day.
  • Envision life as an adventure in making choices, not a struggle to do everything.
  • Make daily to-do lists based on true priorities.

“Procrastinate now, don’t put it off.” ― Ellen DeGeneres

Defier

Many tasks seem like an unfair or unnecessary use of my time and energy.

I prefer to maintain control over situations and retain a sense of individuality.

  • Rank your priorities in life, and devote your energies accordingly.
  • Reflect on the ways you could potentially respond to a task before acting.
  • Be aware when you’re choosing defiance. Ask yourself whether long-term regrets are worth short term pleasure.
  • Strive to act, rather than react.
  • Learn self-calming strategies.
  • Own up to your actions—especially if you did not complete a task you agreed to.
  • Choose one task every week that you will complete in your own way in order to satisfy your need for individuality.

“Procrastination is the thief of time, collar him.” ― Charles Dickens, David Copperfield