What Kind of Procrastinator are You? (There are 6 different types, do you know yours?)
Updated: Apr 17
pro-cras-ti-na-tion (noun): a repetitive pattern of ruining your own life for no apparent reason
Kind of funny isn’t it.
If you’re joining in today, congratulations.. you’re one of us. You’re probably struggling or have struggled with procrastination in some shape or form.
Whether your procrastination is a minor issue that’s simply hurting your productivity or a major issue that’s preventing you from achieving your goals, you’ve probably made some attempts to overcome procrastination on your own, and you’ve probably found that it’s not that easy to do.
You may have possibly even done a Google search for some procrastination advice, but then you saw how much information is actually out there about how to stop procrastinating, and most of it for you was either partially helpful or ineffective entirely.
(If you'd prefer to listen to the podcast of this content, click here to check that out!)
So I want to take a different approach today, to the topic of procrastination. I want to start by helping you identify what type of procrastinator you actually are. Because we’re definitely not a one-size-fits-all bunch of world-changers and where some tips and advice may prove super helpful for one person, it will be completely ineffective for another.
So let’s start by identifying the 6 different types of procrastinators, and my best tips for each one of them.
The 6 types of procrastination (and how to tackle them)
1. The Perfectionist
The Perfectionist gets overwhelmed by expectations, wants everything to be perfect and feels there is always room for improvement in their work. It feels impossible for them to complete tasks to their standards. This procrastinator is trying to avoid being embarrassed by or judged for substandard work.
My best tip for The Perfectionist: The Perfectionist needs clear deadlines so they don’t spend too much time on a task, and needs reminding that getting something done is better than spending days, weeks, or months making something perfect because perfection does not exist.
The Perfectionist should also try to celebrate completion and reward themselves for getting tasks done rather than trying to make everything perfect. Done is better than perfect.
2. The Dreamer
The Dreamer underestimates how long things will take and often gets bored, usually because they need variety and fun in their life and daily tasks.
My best tip for The Dreamer: The dreamer needs to give themselves a short list of small, very clear, and very doable actions to take each day, and be realistic about how long the task will actually take to complete! (Because dreamers also often misjudge and mismanage their time)
They should also make a clear plan of how to tackle the task and stick to it and make themselves accountable by telling peers or colleagues what they are working on and what the deadline is where appropriate. The Dreamer might also want to reward themselves once they have completed small tasks, just to simply give them something to celebrate and be excited about!
3. The Worrier
The Worrier seeks safety by procrastinating because they tend to be driven by fear. This can be fear of failure, judgement or even fear of success. They’re afraid of all the what-ifs. Another common trait of the worrier is imposter syndrome, which we all know can be debilitating.
My best tip for The Worrier: Unfortunately there’s no quick tip for a worrier. If this is you, you need to get really honest with yourself about your fears. What are you actually afraid of? If you’re not sure how to get to that answer, I challenge you to apply the process of the ‘5 Whys’.
If you’ve never heard of the 5 whys, it is very simple. First, you identify clearly what your problem is in one sentence. Then you ask yourself why you're facing that problem. That’s why #1. Write down your response to that first why and be honest with yourself. Based on that response, you’ll have the opportunity to ask why again. That’s why #2. Repeat this process 5 times and you are all but guaranteed to get to the real answer for the struggle you are facing.
With one client I took through this process, the problem that she identified was that she was too busy to work on the important aspects of her business that she knew she needed to do. After 5 whys, we uncovered that she didn’t believe success was possible for her so she was intentionally keeping herself busy with busy work so she could use busy as an excuse.
You’ve got to get to the root.
4. The Adrenaline Junky
The Adrenaline Junky feels like they work better under pressure so they leave things to the last minute, which results in them panicking and rushing whatever is supposed to be done. The thing is about The Adrenaline Junky though, they enjoy the rush of working in that panic position because otherwise, they find task work to be a bit boring.
My best tip for The Adrenaline Junky: The Adrenaline Junky needs to identify healthier challenges and motivators for their tasks so they’re not continually trying to use stress as a motivator. For example, they could create competition with themselves to complete a task better or faster than they did before. Or to beat a deadline.
Put simply, The Adrenaline Junky needs a way to introduce excitement into their work. They need a rush.
5. The Rebel
The Rebel doesn’t like to be told what to do, even by themselves. They do not like to feel controlled. Tasks for The Rebel may sometimes seem unfair or an unnecessary use of their time or ability. Rebels like to maintain control and they also like to maintain a sense of individuality.
My best tip for The Rebel: The Rebel should strive to act rather than react. They should reflect on ways they could potentially respond to a task before reacting and be aware of when they are choosing defiance.
They could also ask themselves whether long-term regrets are worth short-term pleasure or choose one task every week to complete in their own way to satisfy their need for individuality. Because some stuff just has to be done whether you like it or not.
6. The Over-Doer
Last but certainly not least is The Over Doer. The Over-Doer usually takes way too much on their plate and then procrastinates because they feel overwhelmed with all that they have to do.
The Over-Doer finds is often a people-pleaser, has a strong need for significance, and finds it difficult to prioritize and say no to things, which results in too many demands being made on their time.
My best tip for The Over-Doer: The Over-Doer needs to acknowledge their limitations and begin using the word ‘no’. They have to be very intentional about recognizing when they are taking too much on their plate. And when their plate gets full and they have the urge to take on something else, they need to ask why. What’s the root of the urge. Who are you trying to please? Why are you afraid of saying no? If they’re honest with themselves about those questions, they’ll have the fuel they need to make some lasting changes.
Here are just a few more tips that apply to all procrastinators, no matter who you are:
Don’t overschedule yourself. Build in time in your calendar for the stuff that you enjoy that recharges you. This is so important. (Just don’t forget to build in the time for your high-priority work activities as well.)
If you find yourself often getting distracted, use a timer. Try giving yourself 10 minutes before starting a task to check your social media, emails, texts, or whatever else you find distracting. Then, set a timer for 60 minutes. Turn off your phone, throw on your noise-cancelling headphones, and knock out some real undistracted work.
Set deadlines for yourself. Even better, tell someone else about it. You might let yourself down by procrastinating, but it’s more difficult when we feel that we’re failing someone else’s expectations for us. Accountability is powerful.
Keep a distraction hit list at your workspace. When all of those random distracting thoughts pop in your brain while you are trying to work (like “I need to mail that letter” or “I need to call mom” or “I need to order more dog food”) quickly jot them down on your distraction hit list to get them out of your brain and down on paper. Then maintain focus on the task at hand until it is done. When you have a break in your day, you can then knock those quick items off of your hit list instead of letting them disrupt your focused work.
When you find yourself facing a task that you can’t bring yourself to start, set a timer for fifteen minutes. Commit to working on it for at least 15 minutes. You often find that once you’ve gotten started and built momentum, fifteen minutes can effortlessly turn into an hour or longer. It’s Newton’s Law; objects in motion stay in motion. Most people don’t procrastinate on finishing something. It is almost always the start.
Lastly, imagine procrastination is a villain in your life story.. and it’s coming for your bank account every day and taking your money. It is. Fight it.
That’s what I’ve got for you today y’all.
If you’re stuck and you know it, I challenge you to reach out to me.
If I had the opportunity to go back in time and tell myself one thing in the early stages of my business, all I would say is “Get help sooner.”
I didn’t. I tried to do it all myself. And listen, there’s nothing wrong with being a do-it-yourselfer. I think that’s a natural trait of an entrepreneur.
The problem comes when you are a do-it-yourselfer AND. IT. SHOWS.
Get help sooner. Invest in the tools, training, and support you need to accomplish the things that you’ve been unable to do on your own.
I guarantee it’ll change everything.