Three main types of procrastinators and the evils that befall them.
Procrastinators fall into three main types: Delayers, Perfectionists and the easily Distractible. They’re all different but they all suffer the same kinds of dire consequences from the “thief of time” when they put things off.
I used to think that procrastination was a function of poor time management. I thought we put things off simply because we didn’t know how to use time well. It isn’t true.
Oh, it’s true that time management problems play a part in procrastination, but the chief culprit is a lack of self-knowledge, just as time management is a function of self-knowledge.
If we knew ourselves better we could create firm goals and priorities and act on them. We would be able to say “No” to things that stopped us from achieving our goals and we would reduce procrastination immeasurably.
Procrastination is the art of putting off today whatever we might do later. In the hazy future. The top theorists, although they disagree on the causes, believe it is inherently natural. All humans everywhere, in every era, have suffered the consequences of procrastination.
However, as natural as it may be, it is not without consequences, most of them unpleasant. In fact, we get into a hell of a lot of trouble when we put off important things.
In its simplest terms, procrastination is the avoidance of a task that we need to accomplish. We call it the “thief of time.” It can become a significant enough problem to handicap one’s progress in life personally, academically and professionally.
Recent studies indicate that between 84 and 87 per cent of people procrastinate (and most of the other people just haven’t gotten around to reporting it. I absolutely agree that doesn’t include you!).
We all procrastinate to some degree. For a few people, it’s a minor issue. For most, it is a source of considerable stress and anxiety. It is a huge thing standing between them and the lives they want to live.
THREE MAIN TYPES OF PROCRASTINATORS
There are three main types of procrastinators. (See if any of them do describe you.)
DELAYERS. These people have a hard time getting started on any task. They put things off for all kinds of reasons such as…
- Fatigue (“I’m too tired”)
- Busyness (“I don’t have time to do that right now”)
- Self-indulgence (“I need to relax”)
- Misplaced self-regard (“I need a break!”)
- Wrong frame of mind (I don’t feel like doing that now; I’ll feel more like it later”)
- Late day blues (It’s too late to start that today; I’ll do it tomorrow when I’m fresh”)
PERFECTIONISTS. Those who get bogged down in details. These folks start a task but they can’t finish it because it isn’t perfect. It’s not considered ready to be seen or judged because…
- People will think it’s incomplete.
- People will think I’m incompetent.
- They won’t trust me to do that again.
- I can do a better job with two more revisions.
DISTRACTIBLES. Those who are too distractible. These people always find something else to do that offers them immediate gratification rather than the satisfaction completing the task would bring. The distractions often involve…
- Tech toys (games)
- The computer (MSN, trolling, Googling, etc.)
- Going to the mall
- Seeing a small thing that hasn’t been done that grabs their attention
- Email etc.
WHERE DOES IT ALL LEAD?
Even in small doses, procrastination can lead to feelings of
Often in that order.
Not only is the required task not getting accomplished (a feat, by the way, which would produce feelings of success, pride, relief and accomplishment), but the procrastinator is also harboring the painful and troubling feelings mentioned above even as he “enjoys” playing video games or watching some dumb reality show instead of doing the task.
These feelings increase proportionally according to how long we delay the task and they are damaging to the sufferer’s self-esteem and sense of peace.
In other words, if you have something important to you hanging over your head, you cannot really enjoy anything.
Procrastinators are most often aware of what they are doing, but that rarely makes it easier to stop. We tell ourselves we will get to it tomorrow, or after the holidays or after a particular stress is passed; in other words, “when we are more able to do the job.” Of course, this magical time never presents itself, and the struggle continues.
NEXT: the two main types of procrastination.
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