We have all begun a new school year or quarter at work and told ourselves, “this time I am going to be on top of my work. This time I am not going to procrastinate”. Fast forward one month and you are rapidly cramming the night before the due date.
We all procrastinate but most of us do this without ever considering why we do it. But not everyone procrastinates for the same reasons, or in the same style.
We suggest there are five main types of procrastinators :
- The Plenty of Timer
- The Fun Seeker
- The Novelty Seeker
- The Perfectionist
- The Procrasta-Cleaner
Everyone has their favorite avoidance archetype. The way to successfully stop delaying your work is to figure out which archetype you fall into and learn skills to break your procrastination habits.
Which one are you? Read on and find yourself in one of these five styles:
The Plenty of Timer: “I work better under pressure”
This type of procrastinator feels alive under pressure. We have all believed that we would be saved in the 11th hour at some point, but this is not sustainable. You may feel more concentrated once you have put yourself in a time bind and in that rush all distractions leave your mind. But you may frustrate easily and snap at someone who interrupts - such as your poor dog who just needed to go pee. That's working under pressure, not working better under pressure. There is a key difference. There is nothing wrong with a little pressure to ignite creativity and workflow but an unhealthy amount of pressure due to procrastination can lead to burnout, irritability, and long-term stress.
Your biggest challenge: Getting started.
Our solution: Set an earlier due date. Pretend your work is due one week before the deadline and write it in the calendar as such. Even though you technically know the 'real' due date, having an earlier date in writing might help trick your brain! You can create a Workspace for your project in Shift, making it easier to jump in and out of the project so that you can work distraction free any time before the deadline.
The Fun Seeker: “Just one more Youtube video and I’ll start”
“Once I get back from that hike with friends I will feel nourished and energized to get my work done.” Sound familiar? Ever heard of FOMO? (The fear of missing out.) Most of us have felt it at some point in our lives. How could you possibly make yourself sit down and complete that boring project when there are so many fun and exciting things to do?! Bad news, FOMO never goes away, and there will always be something more exciting to do. There is always one more cute video to watch, one more get-together to attend.
Urban refers to this as The Dark Playground, where leisure activities happen at a time that leisure activities are not supposed to be happening. The fun you have in The Dark Playground is not actually fun, because it is unearned and the air is filled with guilt, dread, anxiety, and self-hatred. Getting to go out with friends knowing you're already done, not having work in the back of your mind - well, that’s a whole new level of freedom.
Your biggest challenge: Staying in and getting to work.
Our solution: Give yourself timed fun breaks. Work for two hours and then allow yourself to go for a thirty-minute coffee at that cool coffee shop you've been eyeing with a friend.
You, like most professionals, are constantly navigating between your personal and professional worlds. Bouncing between devices, such as your personal laptop and your work computer it can easily get messy and things can get lost. By using Shift and syncing your calendars, you give yourself one easy location to see everything. You can add multiple accounts to your dashboard and easily toggle between them, assuring you don't miss professional or personal meetings.
The Novelty Seeker: “ I have a great new project idea!”
“The grass isn't greener on the other side, it's greener where you water it.” - Neil Barringham.
The novelty seeker is guilty of this thought pattern. Constantly coming up with new ‘better’ ideas/projects but getting bored easily and not taking the time to foster them through to success. The Novelty Seeker procrastinator tends to have a never-ending case of Shiny Object Syndrome, focusing all of their attention on new and fun trends, yet drop it as soon as something new and more interesting comes up.
Your biggest challenge: Completing a project.
Our solution: Use a notes app such as todoist to write down all of your creative, innovative, and new ideas so you don't forget them while you finish your current task. New ideas are awesome, but what’s even more awesome is making creative ideas come to life, and that means completing the project!
It can be difficult to not be distracted when we have constant notifications from our technology. Shift has a “mute notifications” feature to help you focus on your task at hand.
How to enable Shift's Mute Notifications tool
- Click on Options (lower-left corner)
- Click on the bell icon
- Choose from the options list or type in a time and click "Mute"
The Perfectionist: “It is not quite done yet, I can do better”
“Your harshest critic is always going to be yourself” - Michael Ian Black.
Perfectionists heavily criticize their work, setting unrealistically high bars for themselves which leads to disappointment and frustration. The perfectionist tends to procrastinate when they fear producing a low standard of work, believing that by having a little extra time they would perfect their task, or the fear of failing.
Your biggest challenge: Letting go.
Our suggestion: According to Medium, try looking at the five most recent tasks you completed. Was every one of them perfect? Most likely not. Were they sufficient? Most likely yes. You’re already working at a high standard, try being kinder with yourself.
The ‘Procrasta- Cleaner’: “But the kitchen did need cleaning, I shouldn't feel guilty”
It's not bad if you're tackling something else on your to-do list, right? Avoiding your task at hand by doing another task is still procrastination. But hey, you may get a clean kitchen out of it.
By starting a completely different project we can feel less guilty about avoiding the task we have been dreading. But unfortunately, that work will still be waiting for you, clean kitchen or not.
Your biggest challenge: Staying on the right task.
Our suggestion: If you're working from home, try setting up a clean designated workspace that has minimal home distractions. If possible, try not to face your kitchen (or whatever mess is calling your name) as this will help reduce the clean-up thoughts and keep you on track.
Take the plunge and stop procrastinating!
So, now that you know you are a: “Plenty of Timer”, “Fun Seeker”, “Novelty, Seeker”, “Perfectionist”, or a “Procrasta-Cleaner”, what do you do with this information?
Well, that's completely up to you. There is no right and wrong when it comes to procrastination.
Maybe you are in the 'it works for me, just leave me as I please' - camp. If you're going to find yourself procrastinating, procrastinate by watching Ted Urban, the founder of the blog Wait But Why’s Ted Talk Inside the Mind of the Master Procrastinator. Where Urban dives into the science of procrastination, as a master procrastinator himself.
Or maybe you are thinking, "Yikes, I see some destructive patterns in my life and I am ready to follow a schedule to help keep me on track. Let's do it!"
Whether you’re a:
- Plenty of Timer who would benefit from creating a Workspace to allow for you to easily jump in and out of your project
- A Fun Seeker who may need a little help managing multiple calendars
- A Novelty Seeker who simply needs a pause from their notifications to allow for them to work without distractions
Shift is here to help you shift out of your procrastination habits no matter what kind of procrastinator you may be.
Or then, maybe you are thinking, “Yes, this is me and I am going to change things up ………. tomorrow.”
Ten Tips to Overcome Procrastination
- Learn what type of procrastinator you are.
- Start with your least favorite task.
- Mute your notifications.
- Create a clean workspace.
- Set earlier due dates for yourself to trick your brain.
- Work when you feel the most energized ( not a morning person? That's okay!)
- Ask for help.
- Prioritize one key task a day.
- Take small breaks and get fresh air.
- Don’t wait for the perfect time to start, the perfect time will never come.