What is procrastionation and what type are you?

Maybe you tell yourself that you are the type of procrastinator who

  • "works better under the pressure of a deadline", or
  • "need to wait until you feel right to get started on that task", or
  • "don't need to do the task now as it is a beautiful day – I'll do it tomorrow."

Such beliefs are potent factors in determining what you do in your life. These beliefs or values often lead to different styles of procrastination:

  • The Chicken might say they don't know where to start, and all the options look good
  • The Daredevil procrastinator may say they "thrive on stress".
  • The Pleasure Seeker procrastinator may say, "life's too short, and they need to live for the moment".
  • The Ostrich may say, "Better safe than sorry".
  • The Perfectionist may say, "It's safer not to stick your neck out".

If you tell yourself these things, you have the hallmarks of a typical procrastinator.

Here are 5 types of procrastinators

1. The Chicken

Do you struggle to choose from the vast array of choices? Do options like buying a shirt or choosing a book from the library post significant problems? 

Struggling with indecision is as enjoyable as being stuck in the mud. A famous psychologist and philosopher, William James, said, "There is no more miserable human being than one in whom nothing is habitual but indecision."

Here are some key mental models underpinning this type of procrastination:

  • I don't know where to start.
  • I don't know what to do.
  • Will they like the blue one or the green one?
  • There is so much to choose from, and I like them all equally well.

2. The Daredevil

If you're a daredevil procrastinator, you like to live dangerously. 

You're most likely to put off your work until the last minute, using the adrenaline rush of a looming deadline to power you through. 

That report isn't due until the end of the day, so where's the harm in starting it at 4:00 pm? 

You may think that you show grace under pressure, but the end result is often rushed and full of errors, and everyone around you suffers because of your crises. 

Here are some of the fundamental beliefs underpinning this type of procrastination:

  • High achievers thrive under pressure.
  • Good salespeople require adrenaline to do the job.
  • Nothing like a tight deadline to get me going.
  • Life is all about beating the odds.
  • I thrive on stress.

3. The Ostrich

Have to write that tedious report? Avoid. 

Do you have to look at your savings to do retirement planning? Avoid. 

Avoidance procrastinators do whatever they can to not do unpleasant things. Looking forward to the task is a little like looking forward to waxing your back.

Avoidance procrastinators are usually concerned with what others think of them and run away from the fear of failure, fear of success, or a comparison with others. 

Avoidance procrastinators would prefer that people see them as lacking effort rather than ability, especially when they feel they don't think they can do it well or feel they have no control over the situation.

For avoiders, it is about giving them the tools to take back control of their time and their life. It is about acknowledging that they have the skills to change.

Here are some of the fundamental beliefs underpinning this type of procrastination:

  • It's essential to know your limits – so why do things I know I'm not good at?
  • I can't do it.
  • I'm not good enough.
  • I suck.
  • Why try it when I know I can't do it? I've tried it before.

4. The Perfectionist

On the one hand, perfectionism can drive you to achieve extraordinary things, even in the face of obstacles. On the other hand, it can be a giant productivity killer.

The perfectionist is driven by how others will view them or how they will view themselves after taking action. Feeding into this is a concern that there is always more information to be evaluated before action can take place and perfection is achieved.

Therefore, taking any action increases their vulnerability. This is because you can never know it all, someone may catch you, and you may fail and look like a fake. 

The underpinning position of this is that I can never be perfect enough. 

Here are some of the fundamental beliefs underpinning this type of procrastination when their is potential criticism from others

  • Flying under the radar is good.
  • Stay out of the limelight.
  • Don't get too big for your boots.
  • Don't stick your neck out.
  • When I try, I might fail, and I will not let anyone see me do that!

Here are some of the fundamental beliefs underpinning this type of procrastination when their is potential for self criticism

  • I must do a perfect job.
  • I can't fail at this.
  • Perfection is a virtue.
  • Give it 110%.
  • Nothing less than the best will do.

5. The Pleasure seeker

For a pleasure seeker, life is meant to be enjoyed, not endured. 

Thanks to the desire for fun and enjoyment, this type of procrastinator sometimes finds themselves working late, apologizing for incomplete work, and/or leaving other people to pick up the bits. 

Here are some of the fundamental beliefs underpinning this type of procrastination:

  • Carpe diem
  • I live for the moment
  • Never do today what you can put off till tomorrow (especially if it is a nice day)
  • Tomorrow's inventions will fix today's mistakes
  • Life's too short.
  • If I enjoy my work, I have a holiday seven days a week
  • Don't be a party pooper
  • Nobody wants on their headstone, "I should have worked more."

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