Source | FastCompany : By GWEN MORAN
If your desk gets tidier as your looming deadline gets closer, you’re probably familiar with the effects of procrastination. Putting off ‘til tomorrow what you can do today isn’t just a harmless act—a February 2016 study in the journal PL0S One found it was associated with higher levels of stress, anxiety, depression, fatigue, and even unemployment.
And while there may be benefits to using procrastination wisely, the main motivation is to avoid something painful—and that can be detrimental, says psychologist Neil Fiore, founder of Albany, California-based Fiore Productivity, Inc. and author of Awaken Your Strongest Self. In the workplace, people who are chronic procrastinators may find that their lives are unbalanced because they’re avoiding doing things that are necessary, he says.
Examining your procrastination “style”—the reasons behind why you’re not doing what you need to do, can lead to important insights. Here are five common types of procrastinators, and the best tactics to help them get unstuck.
This procrastinator is trying to avoid being embarrassed by mistakes or judged, Fiore says. They may spend too much time on one component of a project, failing to manage their time properly, or avoid the project altogether, then rush to finish it at the last minute. Of course, this may increase the likelihood of making mistakes.
Afraid of being revealed as unqualified or inferior, this procrastinator puts off doing anything to avoid that risk, Fiore says. Often this type of procrastination is learned when the person is surrounded by people who are difficult to please. “If I cannot please my partner, my parents, my teacher, my boss, it creates what behaviorists call ‘learned helplessness.’ Learned helplessness is a pragmatic definition of depression,” Fiore says.
When work is boring or unpleasant, we may procrastinate just to avoid doing it, says Nicole Bandes, founder of the consultancy the Productivity Expert. If you hate what you’re doing or you find it mind-numbing, it’s tough to get motivated to take action.
Sometimes, there’s just too much to do, and it’s hard to figure out where to start—so we don’t do anything, Fiore says. Whether they’ve chosen to take on too much or a supervisor is piling on the work, the sheer thought of getting it all done makes us avoid doing anything at all.
The Lucky One
Some people believe they do their best work under pressure, so they procrastinate until their back is up against the wall. If they have a history of doing this without consequence, they’ve essentially been rewarded for procrastinating, Bandes says. “In school, if you tended to be the kind of person that waited to the last minute to turn in a report, but you still got a really good grade on it, that would [create a belief that] ‘Oh, I don’t have to do it right away because I’m going to get a great grade even if I wait until the last minute,’” she says.
So, what do you do if you’re a procrastinator and it’s hurting your work? Spotting the underlying issue is the first step to changing your behavior, Bandes says. And the approaches to managing and overcoming procrastination are similar for each type.