Raise your hand if you’re guilty of procrastination. Don’t feel bad, we’ve all been there. You’ve put off that big project that you’ve known about for months. You haven’t gone to the grocery store until you’re left with nothing but that bag of lettuce that always seems to go bad before you can eat it. Maybe you’ve put off that hobby you’ve wanted to start years ago.
Procrastination is the act of avoiding or delaying a task that needs to be done, often by a specific time. While procrastinating may feel good at the time, it usually ends up making us feel worse when we inevitably do whatever it is we’ve been avoiding. So if we know it’s better to get a task done now, why do we wait until later to do it? Understanding what type of procrastinator we are can help us work through this not-so-great habit to accomplish everything on our to-do lists.
What Type of Procrastinator Are You?
When you procrastinate, you’re unnecessarily postponing an action or a decision. Procrastination can cause anxiety, hinder success, and lead to unwanted stress. Understanding why you’re putting something off is the first step to actually getting it done.
The imposter has a big case of (you guessed it) imposter syndrome, in which a person doubts their talents and abilities and fears they’ll be seen as a fraud. They don’t want to begin because it puts them at risk of being unqualified or exposed. If you find yourself procrastinating because you’re afraid to start, know that the feeling is entirely normal. Start by separating fact and fiction. Remind yourself of your accomplishments and the facts and rest assured that it’s OK if you don’t know what you’re doing. Often, we’re all just figuring it out as we go. The hardest thing to do is to take that first step.
Are you procrastinating because you’re overwhelmed? Maybe the task sounds too daunting or requires you to get outside of your comfort zone. Whatever the reason, start by writing down everything you have to do. Sometimes tasks can feel like a lot in your head but become more manageable once they’re down on paper. Once you have your to-do list laid out, start small. Break the tasks or projects into smaller tasks. Take what’s overwhelming and make it more manageable to nip procrastination in the bud.
To avoid making mistakes and being judged for them, the perfectionist may choose not to do them. Alternatively, they may spend too much time on one part of a project or task trying to get it right, which leads to poor time management or rushing to get it done. If this sounds like you, understand that there is no such thing as perfect. Keep in mind that done is better than perfect. Do your best, because your best will be good enough.
The “Yes” Woman
This type of procrastinator doesn’t have the word ‘no’ in their vocabulary. They jump at the chance to help, and they say yes before understanding the magnitude of the task. They overload their schedule and then struggle to prioritize. Switching between items on their to-do list isn’t productive, and they’re left feeling busy all the time. If you’re the “yes” woman, stop procrastinating by prioritizing your to-do list. You can choose to prioritize by importance or by the deadline; pick whichever works best for you. Since you’ve already made the commitments, the only way out is through, so start chipping away at the tasks. Then in the future, make sure you’re only saying yes to things that excite you or help you achieve your goals.
The Two-Minute Rule
Whether or not you resonate with the procrastination styles above, a helpful tip for everyone to live by the two-minute rule. This means that if a task will take you less than two minutes to complete, do it now. When you put off a lot of small tasks, they add up in your head and can feel paralyzing. Things like paying a bill, sending an email, or opening your mail, while all small things, can feel like a lot when you’re trying to knock them all out at once.