Which Type of Procrastinator Are You? (from an Ex-Procastinator)

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If you’re like me, procrastination can be a way of life. You stay up too late; you watch Youtube; you check social media for hours on end (instead, I work, I’m a workaholic); and all the time, important tasks that need to be done, go undone. The result? A busted schedule, an angry boss (or professor, or mother or partner or self), and quite possibly, constant quiet but increased anxiety.

Feeling overwhelmed is a natural response to the pressure of deadlines. But every task is not important. One of the many tricks (as we need to trick the mind before the mind tricks us!) is to be able to tell the difference between important and non-important tasks. If you allow yourself to get CAUGHT UP in [one, after another] unimportant tasks (which, as a procrastinator, you would do in order to forever delay the important ones), they will not only NEVER get done, but they will make you live in a constant state of doom, gloom, underachievement, feelings of worthlessness, unhappiness, anger and, eventually, burnout.

We, procrastinators, know that all our activity is somewhat pointless. We can’t escape from the fact that we’re getting certain (less important) things done because we are postponing something else (more important).

The Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination and Enjoying Guilt-Free Play

“I’m Not a Procrastinator… I’m a Person Who Does Things at the Proper Moment.”

This is an example of how you might describe yourself: “I’m not a procrastinator, or, if I am, I tend to procrastinate on things that don’t really matter, like cleaning the bathroom.”

But if you’re honest with yourself you would easily see that as a procrastinator, you have a tendency to put off tasks until, unfortunately, it’s probably too late.

“I Procrastinate When I’m in a Panic.”

This is an example of how you might describe yourself: “I’m not a procrastinator, I just make decisions very quickly and then get in a panic when it’s too late to change my mind.”

But if you’re honest with yourself you can see it is just not logical to put things off until the last minute. A lot of procrastination can happen when you’re in a panic. You take on more tasks than you can handle and then end up putting them off.

“I’m Not Procrastinating, I’m Just Being Wise and Frugal. I’m Going to Do This Thing Later, When Things Are Less Hectic.”

This is an example of how you might describe yourself: “I’m not procrastinating. I’m really smart and frugal. I do things later when I have more time and energy. It’s not logical to do it now when I’m busy with other things.”

A lot of procrastinators try to convince themselves that what they’re doing is wise, efficient and logical. They convince themselves that they’re being frugal by not doing the things that feel “too big”. It’s not efficient to do something so big right now, so they put it off until later.

You might even convince yourself that you’re being wise: “The longer I can hold things off, the less pressure there will be on me.”

“I Procrastinate When It’s a Bad Time.”

This is an example of how you might describe yourself: “I’m not a procrastinator, I’m an opportunist. I figure out when things are going to be bad and then wait until they’re better so I don’t have to do them when they’re at their worst.”

A lot of procrastinators are opportunists. They weigh benefits against costs and then decide. If the benefits outweigh the costs, they do it. If not, they put it off until later.

“I’m Working on Things as They Come to Me.”

This is an example of how you might describe yourself: “I’m not a procrastinator. I just figure this is the most efficient way to work: as soon as something comes into my head, I do it.”

Operating from impulses. Which means many important tasks never get done. If you’re honest with yourself you would probably see that you will always have some menial tasks in your head, for which there is no urgency. Another trick of the mind to make you delay the important tasks.

“I Procrastinate When I’m Stressed.”

This is an example of how you might describe yourself: “I’m not a procrastinator. Sometimes I feel stressed and then I procrastinate, but usually, it’s because I have a lot of things to do.”

Procrastination and stress are usually connected. If you’re stressed, you’ll find hard things to do difficult. Your stress might make it even harder for you to get things done.

“I’m Not a Procrastinator, I’m Just Lazy.”

This is an example of how you might describe yourself: “I’m lazy. I have no self-control and I never seem to want to do anything that feels too hard.”

Procrastination might be a result of laziness, but usually, it’s more complicated than that. Procrastinators also have a tendency to get depressed. If you’re feeling anxious or depressed, procrastination can make these feelings worse.

“I’m Not a Procrastinator, I’m Just Obsessive.”

This is an example of how you might describe yourself: “I’m just obsessive about everything and that’s why I procrastinate so much. I have to be perfect at everything I do.”

Procrastination is usually a result of perfectionism. Perfectionists have a tendency to put tasks off until they’re perfect, so they can spend more time on them, but this is an illusion. Things usually never get done because the time to get them started is forever postponed.

“I’m Not a Procrastinator, I Just Worry About Other Things.”

This is an example of how you might describe yourself: “I’m not a procrastinator, I just have something else that I need to do first. Or maybe it is because I made some other big decision that is really important and I need to wait for the outcome of it before I get this done. Or maybe I’ve been waiting for someone else to make a decision and I can’t do anything until they make it.” Etc.

Procrastinators believe that the more important something is, the more they need to wait. They’ll often wait until the last moment to do something because this thing is really important.

“I’m Not a Procrastinator, I Just Don’t Want to Do this Right Now.”

This is an example of how you might describe yourself: “I’m not going to do this thing now because it’s too big for me to handle. Maybe I can do it later, but I’m not doing it now. Maybe there’s a way to do it differently and save time but I haven’t figured that out yet, or maybe I need someone else to help me with this. But right now, I’m not going to do this thing.”

Most procrastinators are planning on doing something later: “I’ll start working on it right after I finish my other priorities. I’ll do it once I get through my busy period. I’ll take care of this thing when I’ve finished all my other stuff.”

It’s important to realize that procrastinators are usually always planning on doing things later.

And so on.

As you can see, it can be pretty hard to tell if you’re a procrastinator. Where does one draw the line between procrastination and being efficient? You might even build up some arguments convincing yourself why what you do is logical or the best way to go about things.

All the above are examples of how much work it takes for a procrastinator to get started, how much mental energy it takes to overcome these internal struggles and how much time is wasted on just keeping ourselves from doing things.

The Good News

The Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination and Enjoying Guilt-Free Play

The good news is that procrastination is one of the easiest habits to change. You simply need to change your behaviour. You don’t need to go into some deep soul search and figure out what’s good for you in the end. All you need to do is make a conscious decision RIGHT NOW on how you want to act in a matter of hours, days or weeks, and stick with it.

Tips & Tricks for Procrastinators that Have Worked for Me

The following are some tips & tricks that have worked for me. I’ve procrastinated for years on end. I had a moment of clarity one morning, many years ago, when I suddenly realised I would NEVER get anything done. It was truly a horrible moment, I felt powerless over this type of thinking and saw how it was crushing me. I got scared, and I decided to do something about it. I wasn’t sure what exactly, but having seen the “monster” was a beginning. Then, slowly but surely, things started to change. I could make more conscious decisions about changing my behaviour.

I would spot my faulty thinking and that’s when True Healing would start. Over the years I’ve developed ways to get by and overcome my procrastination. These are the ones that have worked for me:

NOTE: The below are action-based methods of changing your behaviour. You must be decisive and willing to make a decision right away, otherwise, you’re not going to change anything. You might be afraid of making some of these decisions but you have to be willing and ready to follow through with them. If you aren’t, then the procrastination monster will always win the battle.

Procrastination is a state of mind and not a fact. If I could do this, you can do this.

We can develop the habit of conquering procrastination by following the above tips & tricks. With consistent effort, you can conquer procrastination. I’m still not perfect and do procrastinate at times, but it’s a far cry from how it used to be.

1. “Get Your Pencil Ready”

This is my favourite one. To this day I do it, I’m REALLY good at it now. The trick is to do the SIMPLEST bit of a task first and then leave it. For example, if I have to study piano, I simply place the piano stool into position. That literally takes me 3 seconds, maybe 5. Then I leave it to go and do something else. The next time the thought “I have to study piano” comes, I VERY EASILY move on to the next step (opening the piano and sitting down). The rest happens almost on its own (my hands start playing, I get 1 or 2 hours done easily).

Another example would be to simply open your laptop (and then go and keep doing what you were doing) or just take the book off the shelf if you have to study or place the pen on the desk if you have to write a note to someone. Etc etc. Hence the “get your pencil ready” remark. Just get the pencil ready. The rest seems to flow on its own. I promise.

2. Start the Most Difficult Task First

Only do urgent and important tasks first. Leave the simple tasks for later. Do the one that feels like the worst one now. Make yourself do it. The first few times it can be REALLY hard, but very quickly you’ll get used to it. I did. Now all tasks seem to have the same level of “hardness”, making it easier for me to get things done effortlessly (without the mind struggle).

3. Talk to Yourself

This one seems weird, but I LOVE IT. Try to “split” yourself into 2 people. One talks to the other in your head. One is the boss, the mother, the father, an authoritative loving figure. The other is your “procrastinating you”. The authoritative figure would tell the “procrastinating you” to get the task done. Lovingly, but firmly. This is the trick. It works. For me, it has been remarkable.

4. Plan Everything in the Morning. Then Forget About It.

Write down your daily plans in the morning. Keep a list of tasks at hand. I used to have the list in my wallet. Don’t worry about them getting or not getting done. Just get the list done.

It’s better to write these items down instead of mentally stockpiling them because writing things down will help you remember at least some of them (and they’re somewhat closer to getting done when they’re on paper). You won’t do all of them, but you will do some of them and that will be more than you would have done in the past. It will make you feel good. It did with me, every time.

5. Take Notice of the Things You’ve Done (and Not the Ones You Haven’t)

When you do some of the tasks, tick them off your list. Once it gets to 1, 3 or 5 items, start noticing them (not all done, but notice them as they happen). The next time the thought “I haven’t done anything” pops up, make a conscious effort to stop and focus on the things you have actually done because YOU DID do them! That’s all you need to do. Simple.

6. Email a Procrastinator Partner

For years I had an email partner (someone I trusted) who helped me. We would email each other at the end of the day with a list of the things we did and didn’t do. I did not always want to do this, but I did. I didn’t procrastinate on this one, I just made it part of a routine. Now I can see how much this helped me.

Doing this made me realise that I was doing something about my behaviour. Yes, I was still procrastinating, but I was also doing things about it. It made me realise that time was passing and things came out of it. This had a big impact on my behaviour and mindset because now I could see there was hope that one day things would change…

7. DON’T Blame Yourself When You’re Procrastinating

Some people blame themselves when they procrastinate. This is WRONG because you’re not to blame. You are human and have flaws. The real problem is your inability to control a bad habit (or multiple habits). However, you can learn to control it.

Above all, don’t be hard on yourself. Be kind and gentle with yourself and don’t judge or reproach yourself or beat yourself up when you’re procrastinating because that will make the problem worse. Forgive yourself and move on. Forgiveness will heal you eventually. Forgiveness is letting go of a thought (letting it be without clinging to it or being a slave to it).

8. Celebrate Every Day Because You Succeeded Just by Trying

Just by saying “I’m gonna write this note” or “I’m gonna go do the dishes” or “I’m gonna fix this little problem in my life…” or even “I’m gonna take a shower” – you did it. Yeah! You’re on your way to change. You no longer procrastinate on the little things because you learnt how to conquer them and they no longer seem like huge monsters. Just by doing the little things, you have succeeded. You have done something out of the ordinary. That was not who you were yesterday and that is who you are today.

Keep cracking at the above tips and tricks. You might learn of other things that have worked for other people. It takes years. I’m still working at it, I’m not perfect, I will never be, but I do know from experience that if you follow those things, you will procrastinate less and less frequently. You will feel more alive and be more productive.

Take care and stay positive!

Love,

Patri ❤️💕

The Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination and Enjoying Guilt-Free Play

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