There are a multitude of reasons why we procrastinate. Those moments you find yourself doing something – anything – apart from the job you are meant to be doing. When you will find any excuse, even tidy up the house, to avoid that task. The things you do can also be an indicator of what kind of procrastinator you are.
Perhaps you are a social scroller, or a house cleaner, or an avid reader, a course taker, or an over thinker. While these can be worthwhile and productive activities, they can also be a sign that you are procrastinating.
Working from home does not necessarily mean you will procrastinate more. But there may be more distractions or jobs that you can busy yourself with, so recognising and overcoming procrastination is especially helpful for your productivity.
In the Time issue of The Homeworker magazine, neuroscientist, Dr Lynda Shaw spoke with us about why we procrastinate and gave us so many insights into how to overcome it. There are ways to trick your brain into not procrastinating.
Here we look at some of the different kinds of procrastinator. See which one(s) you identify with.
Shiny object chaser
Whether it’s a new file to organise your paperwork, a new course to help you in your business, or setting up a new meeting to talk some more on a topic, you are constantly looking for the next new thing. It may be that you are constantly buzzing with ideas and jumping from one new project to the next. All of these can be positive, the trick is to recognise when it is procrastination. Organising your paperwork can be really helpful for your productivity, a course can supercharge your business, new ideas can be incredibly beneficial for your progress. But are they a way of avoiding digging into the task?
If you are constantly looking outside for a new challenge, a new object, or find it hard to settle and focus, a chaser shiny objects may be the kind of procrastinator you are.
You struggle to see anything you do as good enough. There is always something that could be improved, and your work is never finished to a high enough standard (in your view). When perfectionism rears its head, it can derail your day and your deadlines.
If you procrastinate due to perfectionism, you often find you will put things off, believing they will be judged harshly. Usually, the worst critic is yourself, but it can mean you never complete a task, or you struggle to start because you worry about the outcome. Perfectionism and procrastination are a common pairing.
To read more on overcoming perfectionism without lowering your standards, check out our article in the On Your Mind column with Dr Stephanie Fitzgerald. Read here
The busy busy bee
Form some people, it can be hard to determine when you are procrastinating because you don’t avoid doing the work, it just may not be the right work. You are always busy. You are always in the middle of something and feeling the pressure.
Busy people often don’t look like procrastinators but sometimes it is because they are avoiding a specific task that they will turn to anything else to keep them occupied.
If you recognise yourself as a busy person, but you aren’t always working on the most important tasks, you may be a procrastinator hiding in plain sight!
To help with overcoming this type of procrastination and to read more on how to prioritise effectively along with different tools and techniques, make sure you read the articles in The Time issue of The Homeworker magazine.
Are you prone to being a little last minute? Thrive under pressure? Don’t get started until one week/day/hour from the deadline? The deadline challenger may be the kind of procrastinator you are. Leaving things until the last minute might give you a sense of urgency but it can also raise those stress levels!
If you often feel stressed or pressured, and often see deadlines as “ages away” then you may find yourself putting off work and then rushing things through or pulling an all nighter to get it done.
Neuroscientist, Dr Lynda Shaw shares some valuable tips on how to tackle this kind of procrastination in the Time issue of The Homeworker magazine. Find out how to subscribe to read here.
This kind of procrastinator, similarly to the busy bee, can be hard to notice unless you really probe into how you work. You want to feel accomplished and productive. You want to get a little dose of happy hormones.
To achieve it, you start looking for the quick wins. You are prone to finding the low-hanging fruit and easy wins in terms of tasks. Maybe a social media post, or researching holiday flights is the quick task that makes you feel good right now but ultimately keeps you from the more pressing or arduous task.
While getting these easy wins done can, at times, be a good thing, there are also times when it can lead to more detrimental procrastination.
Not all procrastination is bad. There are times when we might deliberately hold off on taking action. The key is that you are aware that this is what you are doing. You are deliberately putting something off in order to take future action, rather than to avoid it altogether.
There can be a fine line between taking this deliberate considered time to mull on ideas, read more, and let thoughts percolate, and using it as an excuse. In fact, there are certain things you can do to ensure you still take the needed action after this time.
For expert tips on how to help with all kinds of procrastination, read the feature inside the Time issue of The Homeworker magazine.
It includes articles and expert interviews on planning your time, prioritising techniques, useful apps and tools, as well as looking at how to overcome procrastination.
Dr Lynda Shaw explores: Why we procrastinate, how it can be damaging, when it can be helpful, and how to overcome it when you need to. She shares different ideas depending on the kind of procrastinator that you are.