What Kind of Procrastinator Are You?

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Are you an Adrenaline Junkie? Or a Daydreamer, People Pleaser, Perfectionist or Worrier? About 20% of the population exhibits one of these five common styles of procrastination. And being a regular procrastinator can negatively effect your wellness business.

Everyone puts things off occasionally. But chronic procrastination jeopardizes the success of your wellness business and strains personal relationships.

Are you a procrastinator?

Here’s how to tell the difference between normal re-prioritization of work and true procrastination:

Normal reprioritization: you have more on your plate than you can realistically accomplish. You delay some projects so that you can finish higher-priority work. In this scenario, people often erroneously blame themselves for procrastination when their real mistake was over-committing their time.

Procrastinators, on the other hand, rationalize away their delays. They actively put forth mental effort to avoid doing work, often consciously creating reasons that they can’t do it.

If you have a lifelong pattern of delaying taking care of things that jeopardize your work, finances, health or relationships, you’re a chronic procrastinator.

Still not sure? Take this quiz:

  1. Do I usually delay doing what I need to do until a crisis develops?
  2. Do I routinely sign up to do so many things that I can’t find time for most of them?
  3. Do I regularly hesitate taking action because I fear what could go wrong?
  4. Do I typically dream about wonderful possibilities more often than making them happen?
  5. Do I always do only what I should do instead of what I want to do?
  6. Do I usually delay other projects because I keep seeing more work on my current project?
  7. Do I mostly do the work I want to do, rather than the work I should do?

A single “yes” answer to any of these questions means that you have a procrastination problem.

Following are five common styles of procrastination, with tactics to help you get back to work:

Daydreamer (if you answered “yes” to Question 4 or 7)

Daydreamers love thinking about big ideas and the fabulous payoff if they pursue the big idea, but they rarely take action to make the big idea a reality because the details bog them down.

The key for daydreamers is to understand the difference between doing what feels good right now and accomplishments that will make you feel good about yourself.

Tactics to help Daydreamers get to work:

  1. Keep two types of to-do lists. One is your list of actual goals and what you need to do to achieve them. The other is a list of dreams – things you might someday want to pursue.
  2. Keep a written to-do list with milestones and due dates.
  3. When you put a goal on your list, use the “5 Ws” to help you break the goal down into the details – who, what, when, where, why. Then write down how you’ll accomplish each task.
  4. Get rid of phrases like “I’ll try…” or “I wish…”. Remember Yoda’s advice to Luke in Star Wars: “There is no ‘try’, only ‘do’ and ‘do not'”.
  5. Avoid entitlement thinking. If you catch yourself thinking “I deserve more recognition” or “I deserve a better job”, bring yourself back to reality by writing down the goal and use the 5 Ws technique to think through exactly what you need to do to realize it.

People Pleaser (if you answered “yes” to Question 2 or 5)

Do you find yourself saying things like “I would get started on that project, but I’ve got so many other things I need to get to”? People Pleasers often see themselves as noble and self-sacrificing heroes giving their all for other people. They put off doing personally rewarding things because they’re so overcommitted with work projects and routine chores.

The key for People Pleasers is to understand that you can have it all – but not all at the same time. If you throw yourself into one aspect of your life – work, for example – expect poor outcomes in relationships, health, and finances.

Tactics to help People Pleasers get to work

  1. Understand the difference between “needing” to do something and “wanting” the psychological benefit of agreeing to add another project to your already-overloaded plate.
  2. Learn to say no. Here’s a graceful way to say no the next time someone asks you to take on another project: “That sounds like a really important project and I appreciate so much your thinking of me. For a number of reasons I won’t be participating, but I want you to know how much I appreciate your thinking of me.”
  3. Use a daily to-do list. Make sure you include leisure activities as well as must-do tasks.
  4. Look for ways to streamline your routine work and personal chores. Can you delegate to staff or your kids? Can you group several errands into one efficient trip? Can you pay someone to do some tasks?
  5. Enjoy unexpected free time. Avoid the urge to immediately look around for the next thing that needs doing.

Worrier (if you answered “yes” to Question 3)

Do you find yourself anticipating failure with statements like “What if it doesn’t go well or turn out right?” The Worrier anticipates catastrophe before the work even begins. Worriers breathe a sigh of relief every night when their heads hit the pillow – another day where nothing awful happened.

The key for Worriers is to stop letting unnamed fears freeze their actions.

Tactics to help Worriers get to work:

  1. Do one thing every day that makes you uncomfortable. Get used to feeling out of your comfort zone. You’ll start to see that it’s actually OK to feel uncomfortable – it doesn’t mean failure is right around the corner.
  2. Consciously avoid overestimating the scope of work. Break it down into very small pieces and focus on the very next step.
  3. Every time you think of a reason something’s going to fail or cause problems, identify a benefit, advantage or payoff to counter your potential problem.
  4. Recognize that doing nothing is an indirect decision. Choose to make an explicit decision. Then identify specific steps to make it happen.
  5. Brainstorm possible solutions to your own “what if” worries.

Adrenaline Junkie (if you answered “yes” to Question 1)

Are you known for operating on your own idiosyncratic schedule – you’re two hours late for the party, six hours late leaving on vacation because you didn’t start packing until the day or departure? Adrenaline junkies tend to say that they work best under pressure.

The key for Adrenaline Junkies is to find constructive ways to get themselves to do work they don’t want to do.

Tactics to help Adrenaline Junkies get to work:

  1. Accept the fact that projects may not interest you until after you get started on them.
  2. Avoid over dramatizing and focus on facts. Identify what specifically needs to happen.
  3. Reward yourself for progress on things that aren’t exciting but still need to get done.
  4. Stop relying on excitement or a hyper-intense focus on a task as your primary motivator.
  5. Find things other than excitement or intensity that can get you started – for example, perhaps it’s work that will help your community or that would benefit you personally.

Perfectionist (if you answered “yes” to Question 6)

Projects always need “just one more thing” when they’re in the hands of a Perfectionist.

The key for Perfectionists is to practice techniques that slowly ratchet down their perfectionist tendencies.

Tactics to help Perfectionists get to work:

  1. Strive for “good enough”, not perfection, and focus on what’s realistic rather than what would be ideal.
  2. Avoid negative self-talk. Don’t beat yourself up for falling short of an imaginary standard.
  3. Retrain yourself to think in terms of “something is better than nothing”.
  4. Assign time limits to projects.
  5. Get others involved and back off, leaving them to complete their contributions independently.