Wait a minute! Hold on! Just a second! I’m coming! My children honed their procrastination skills at a very early age when it came to cleaning their room, getting to the dinner table, doing their homework, mowing the yard, or carrying out the garbage. Certainly, I could sympathize with them; I was young once too. I couldn’t wait until I grew up so I could be the boss and tell my kids what to do. (Silly, silly girl.)
What drives us to resist getting things done? Larry Kim, Founder and CTO of WordStream wrote an article called, Three Types of Procrastinators and What Motivates Them, based on the research of Dr. Joseph Ferrari of DePaul University. Dr. Ferrari’s research reveals procrastination is a time-waster driven by negative emotions. In his research, he notes, “Three fourths of workers believe negative emotions such as stress and boredom are the leading contributors to time-wasting. The key to fixing your procrastination habit is understanding what drives you to put things off. Gaining an understanding of the motives and negative emotions behind your procrastination can help you combat it.”
Dr. Ferrari identifies three types of procrastinators: the Thrill-Seeker, the Avoider, or the Indecisive. Thrill seekers feel they can procrastinate, as they enjoy the feeling of working against a deadline. Avoiders prefer to procrastinate to avoid being judged, whether it’s from success or failure. Indecisive people are often perfectionists but procrastinate to shift responsibility from themselves. After answering questions on Dr. Ferrari’s flow chart included in Kim’s article, I found my procrastination type to be the Avoider.
After procrastinating about how I can alleviate my procrastination, I came across Henrik Edberg’s article, How to Stop Procrastinating: 7 Timeless Tips that you may find helpful:
- Stop thinking and start doing. The perfect plan does not exist. Initiate the plan by taking action in small increments.
- Don’t blow a task out of proportion. Don’t make mountains out of molehills. The more hours and days you put something off the worse it grows in your mind.
- Just take the first step. Martin Luther King, Jr. said it best, “You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” Make plans for the future, but remember to shift your focus back to today and the present moment.
- Start with the hardest task of the day. Whatever it may be, get it out of your way the first thing you do. If you start your day this way, you will feel relieved it’s completed or at least further along.
- Just make a decision. Any decision. “In a moment of decision the best thing you can do is the right thing to do, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.” Theodore Roosevelt
- Face your fear. “Procrastination is the fear of success. People procrastinate because they are afraid of the success that they know will result if they move ahead now, and because success is heavy, carrying a responsibility with it. It is much easier to procrastinate and live on the someday I’ll” Denis Waitley
- Finish It. Take the first step and move forward on a task or project. “Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task.” William James
Do yourself a favor, if you don’t know whether you’re a procrastinator, ask someone around you at home, the office or at school. Barring any threats of bodily harm to them, they may laugh hysterically or dramatically roll their eyes. Come to think of it, that’s exactly what I plan to do, (cough), next week.
Originally published in the Bay City Tribune on Sunday June 4, 2017