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How to beat procrastination: which type of procrastinator are you?

I really need to get that task done, but first I’m going rearrange my sock drawer. We all procrastinate, but why? And how can you stop stop procrastinating to be more productive?

We love to procrastinate. Putting off those big tasks until we’ve crossed something less pressing off our to-do list. You’re not alone, procrastinator - 88% of us admit to procrastinating for at least 1 hour a day.

Why do we procrastinate?

Tonnes of reasons, depending on the task at hand. It could be the fear of failure, the dread of the process or because it has to be perfect. Some researchers say procrastination isn’t always a bad thing. Procrastinating for a short period of time whilst the task is in the back of your mind, can actually generate more creative thoughts. But that tends not the case for the most of us.

The main reasons we procrastinate

  • Fear of failure - you’d rather not do it, than do it badly
  • The task is boring - you don’t believe in its value or the process is uncomfortable
  • You work better under pressure - leaving it to the last minute will get better results
  • The task is too hard - you have to learn how to do it first, or you’re not confident in your ability
  • You’re surrounded by distractions - Slack, BBC news, or that group chat keeps popping up
 
 
The slope of procrastination. Credit: https://dariusforoux.com
The slope of procrastination. Credit: https://dariusforoux.com

What type of procrastinator are you?

Procrastination is a killer of productivity and is said to waste 55 days a year for the average worker. Yikes. There are 5 different types of procrastinator:

1. The perfectionist

It has to be perfect, or it’s not done. You obsess over the minor details or the process being executed perfectly. The fear of doing the task to a low standard (usually to your own unreachable standards) means you’d rather not do it.

2. The under-pressure procrastinator

You work better when you have a strict deadline, so you’ll leave things to the last minute so you can focus better. You end up rushing, feeling stressed and promising “next time I’ll start this earlier”.

3. The dreamer

You enjoy the process of planning for a task, or love the novelty of a new one. You’re highly creative but you struggle in following through and tick it off to-do list.

4. The fun procrastinator

Life is for living and that dreaded task can wait because this YouTube video is much more interesting. You find the task boring or uncomfortable to complete so you’d rather do something more interesting.

5. The busy procrastinator

You find it hard to prioritise tasks, so fill your calendar with things everything and anything to fill your time. You’re postponing tasks because you don’t know which is best to tackle first.
 
The sweet spot to beating procrastination. Credit: https://dariusforoux.com
The sweet spot to beating procrastination. Credit: https://dariusforoux.com

Steps to beat procrastinating

Whatever type of avoider you are, there’s plenty of habits to build that can help you overcome task-avoiding.

Work in short intervals and reward yourself for completing

The Pomodoro technique. Set a timer for 25 minutes of uninterrupted work. When the timer goes off, reward yourself with something for 5 minutes. Try using the Promodor web timer instead of your phone.

Remove distractions

Set up your workspace without distractions. Turn off notifications, leave your phone in another room and turn off the TV. Close all your tabs that you don’t open or even copy and paste information from an email chain into a document. Better yet, take total tech free time on a digital detox.

Set a deadline

If you work better to deadlines, set one for yourself and stick to it. Even better, set that deadline in a public setting. Add it to a shared calendar or tell your colleague you’ll deliver the first draft by a certain date.
 
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Done is better than perfect

We say this a lot at Unplugged. Just do it. Done is better than perfect. It’s also better for your stress and anxiety levels. Procrastinating makes us stressed, and stress isn’t good for our health. Work out what type of tasks you’re procrastinating on, then talk to your future self and acknowledge how much better you’ll feel about getting it done.
 

 
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