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What's Your Preferred Procrastination Style? (and How to Overcome It)

White clock on a yellow background with words associated with procrastination including next day, tomorrow, after, later

What’s your procrastination style? Are you a dreamer who enjoys planning more than doing or revels in possibilities? Or are you a busy bee who is in a constant flurry of activity or always has something to do (but it's not necessarily important or significant)? ⁠Maybe you are a crisis connoisseur who needs a deadline to get motivated (crisis cleaning, crisis cramming for an exam, crisis dieting, crisis filling out paperwork).

Most people procrastinate at some point in their lives. In fact, author Piers Steel's research shows that approximately 95% of people admit to procrastinating at some point (and he jokes that the other 5% are lying). James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits, said something that resonated with me: “...being in the middle of procrastination is often more painful than being in the middle of doing the work.” Does this resonate with anyone else? So it seems everyone does it, and it's uncomfortable while it's happening. Procrastination can lead to regret; and long-term, chronic procrastination can morph into guilt or shame.

Recognizing my procrastination style helped me tame it

I ran across a book from1996 called It's About Time: The 6 Styles of Procrastination and How to Overcome Them by clinical psychologist Dr. Linda Sapadin and psychology writer Jack Maguire. This was fascinating and eye-opening information that I haven't seen before. Dr. Spadin's practice helps people overcome self-defeating patterns. As I read this book, I found myself nodding in agreement because I've used all of these procrastination styles at different points in my life.

Procrastination Style #1: Dreamer

Do you enjoy planning more than doing? Do you revel in possibilities? You may be a dreamer! And there is nothing wrong with dreaming until it keeps you from actually reaching for your dreams.

Procrastination Style #2: Busy Bee

Imagine you have a big project due. Instead of working on the project, you decide to sort your sock drawer and then proceed to alphabetize your spices. You might even decide to clean out your email. You are busy! ⁠

But this flurry of activity is not actually moving you towards finishing your project!⁠ If this sounds like you, then you might identify with this Busy-Bee procrastinating style. There is always something to do (but it's not necessarily important or significant). ⁠

Procrastination Style #3: Crisis Connoseur

✔ Crisis cleaning

✔ Crisis researching

✔ Crisis project planning

✔ Crisis writing a paper

✔ Crisis dieting

✔ Crisis cramming for an exam

✔ Crisis gift wrapping

✔ Crisis house cleaning

Do any of these resonate with you? Do you tell yourself that you need a deadline to get motivated, and "I never miss a deadline"? In the midst of not missing a deadline, do you cause yourself unneeded stress on my part or feel like you burn yourself out to meet a deadline?

Procrastination Style #4: Perfectionist

If you don't finish or start because it's not the perfect time or you won’t be able to complete a task to your standards, you may be a perfectionist. You might find that you keep researching before you start something. You may find that when you are in the midst of something, you keep working and re-working something to get it flawless; in essence, you are never completing the task or you are giving it way more time and attention than it needs. You may find that you get lost in the details - "let’s wait another week until I get my website perfect".

Procrastination Style #5: Worrier

Do you catastrophize or what-if yourself? Do you tend to go to the worst-case scenario? You might find yourself listing all of the things that could go wrong or what could happen or undesirable outcomes when you need to complete a task or activity, so you never start something or you keep dragging out a project all while worrying about the outcome.

Procrastination Style #6: Rebel

Do you find yourself saying “I’ll get to it in a minute” and the minute never comes, or if it does, it’s many days, weeks, months later? Do you willingly take on tasks or projects because you want to be perceived as nice and helpful? Meanwhile, you are slow to start, late to finish, or never actually start at all? Do you find yourself labeling tasks or projects as “stupid” or blaming someone else for causing problems?

You might have a rebel procrastinating style. Some rebels are proud to procrastinate in this way. They revel in individuality. Others take a more passive-aggressive approach because they want to be viewed positively, so they say yes. Meanwhile, they never finish what they said “yes” to or they are late completing the task.

Tools to Manage Procrastination

Tool #1: Procrastination is about managing negative emotions

So, why do I procrastinate? In a phrase: an immediate need to manage a negative mood. In other words, I am frustrated, bored, angry, lacking meaning, self-doubt, etc. This revolutionary research from Dr. Pychl and Dr. Sirois paves the way to "why" we procrastinate by looking at how our current needs take precedence over our future needs. Take a peek at this article I wrote on the topic:

2: Motivation comes from taking action

Unless you are a medical professional, most first actions aren't life-or-death, thankfully. These first actions provide momentum to keep going. Getting motivated before acting is a falsehood. Action brings motivation. This article explores the topic in more depth:

“...being in the middle of procrastination is often more painful than being in the middle of doing the work.” James Clear, author of Atomic Habits

I'd love to know

What resonates with you? Leave me a comment or visit me on social media and comment!

Are you interested in discovering your procrastination style and figuring out how to work with it? Let's schedule a 15-minute discovery call! Click here to find a time that works for you!


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