It seems like more and more people are complaining about and suffering from procrastination. For a long time, I could easily be termed a classical case of a procrastinator. But then I identified what was really happening and decided to correct it.
Tim Urban, whose blog ‘Wait But Why’ garnered millions of unique page views, thousands of patrons and famous fans like Elon Musk, gave an interesting TED Talk titled ‘Inside the mind of a master procrastinator’. It presents a very simplistic view of why procrastinators procrastinate and is a must watch.
A closer look at procrastinators will demonstrate that all of them follow a pattern that is often hard to miss. Identifying your own patterns and motives is the first step in beating procrastination (a topic I’ll cover in another blog post). So, read on and figure out which procrastinator personality you fall into. If you’re someone like the person I was a few years ago, you will definitely be guilty of fitting into more than one of these types.
I can’t work in a messy room. I’ll have to clean it first” or “It would be a good idea to take a shower and dress up before I sit down for work”. These procrastinators use an empty cabinet or room as an excuse to not work while actually they are only avoiding a task that pushes them out of their comfort zones. Ironically, they generally only end up making a bigger pile of mess as they indulge into old photos they find in a drawer or letters from a friend they want to read again.
These procrastinators feel the constant urge to plan things out. They spend way too much time in listing down tasks and end up doing nothing but making elaborate lists. They plan out minor details and in the process often miss the first few deadlines identified in their plan. They then put it aside and take a break so they can start more efficiently next time. Starting from scratch, of course means planning all over again.
Fusspots whine and complain about lack of time, unfair competition, the weather, their family and what not. They are classic worriers (but what if nobody comes to my event? I’d rather not do it at all). They panic over deadlines and do not like being forced out of their comfort zones. These procrastinators avoid making decisions, resist change and are fearful of the unfamiliar. That’s the reason they catastrophise over “What if?” qualifiers, and negative statements are the biggest mental blocks for them to achieve their goals.
The indecisive perfectionist
A perfectionist procrastinator doesn’t just want perfect results, but also perfect beginnings (I can’t start recording podcasts till I have the perfect mic for it). It is also why many of them are painstakingly indecisive (Let’s research on the perfect mic – a very difficult decision when the mic’s colour depends on what colour you will have your studio painted the next year).
They usually set unrealistic expectations for themselves resulting in fear of being unable to complete a task perfectly or being held responsible for an unacceptable outcome. Out of fear that failure will invoke criticism or ridicule either from internal voices or external audiences and peers, they put off the task and / or the decision for as long as possible.
These procrastinators dive into indulging activities like excessive eating, watching TV shows, shopping and what not – just about anything to avoid work. Sometimes these activities are as absurd as refreshing e-mail every 5 minutes or opening the fridge door every hour to see if something new magically showed up. They may go on a stalking spree on social media, update numerous tweets and posts about their busy life or just keep hopping from one website to another.
The over-occupied dreamer