We all procrastinate on occasion. But do you ever miss a deadline because you put things off for just a bit too long? Or delay starting on something and then have to rush to get it done, compromising on quality? Or miss an opportunity because you didn’t act earlier?
If any of this sounds like you, you need to break these patterns. And the first step is to understand what type of procrastinator you are. Score yourself 1-5 on each of the profiles below, where 1 is least like you, and 5 is most like you.
Self-doubters lack confidence in their own ability or doubt their own judgement. They happily move forward with tasks they know and understand, but delay or avoid work that is new and unknown. Self-doubt often kicks in with tasks that involve public exposure: giving presentations or writing for publication. The fear of failing becomes so strong that the task is avoided and opportunities are lost. To what extent is this you? (Score 1-5)
We all want to do it right. But ultra perfectionists are idealists and set ludicrously high standards for themselves. They can spend an excessive amount of time and energy trying to complete tasks perfectly. The real problem though is that being an ultra perfectionist can actually become a strategy to avoid failure. They tell themselves they need something more before a piece of work can be started or finished: more time, more information, more creative ideas, etc. And so their goals aren’t achieved. To what extent is this you? (Score 1-5)
The rebel wants to do it their own way, and gets easily bored by doing tasks rationally and methodically. They tell themselves that they work better under pressure and so put off work until the last minute. The rebel likes crises and enjoys the drama of attempting to complete a large task in a short time period, even when there was no need to. Rebels enjoy feeling like they are living on the edge, but actually end up rushing and compromising on quality for no reason. To what extent is this you? (Score 1-5)
The social colleague recognises the importance of people at work, and is often good fun in small doses. They’re always interested in other people and their needs, and genuinely want to help. But as a result they are happy to delay their own work in order to talk, gossip, walk around the office or engage in trivial tasks…. anything to avoid getting on. This means they can easily delay the start or finish of their own work, because they can usually find someone else to be concerned about. To what extent is this you? (Score 1-5)
The fantasist or dreamer is always thinking about new possibilities and this makes it difficult for them to focus on and complete specific tasks in front of them. There is always a distraction to break their concentration. This could be a daydream about the next project, future career, family, friends, social events, etc. Or it could be the search for ideas and opportunities that might be helpful. The fantasist can easily waste hours wandering around the Internet, finding information that is interesting, even if not relevant. For a fantasist, whatever the work, these distractions are always there. To what extent is this you? (Score 1-5)
This is a very common form of procrastination for people who have challenging roles or a wide range of tasks to perform. It is easier to do the minor tasks, which don’t take long, first. Except they always take longer than expected! The priority inverter puts off important work by pretending the minor tasks are important. Or they tell themselves they need to ‘warm up’ first with some easy work before tackling the more important issues. And so the more important tasks are often rushed or aren’t completed on time. To what extent is this you? (Score 1-5)
Look at your scores – if you’ve got 4 or 5 in any section (or more than one section), it’s likely you need to do something to get yourself back on track. You can find out how to develop effective and healthy working practices, and how to stop procrastinating, during our one-day Managing Multiple Priorities programme. Alternatively, call +44(0) 207 978 1516 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to speak to one of our Learning & Development Consultants about how we can offer you support.
Charlotte specialises in leadership development, team facilitation and strategy development. Charlotte worked for over 20 years in the not-for-profit sector. Before joining =mc seven years ago, she created and implemented a...