Procrastination is deferring tasks. Sometimes this is because we underestimate the complexity and the time it will take to complete, sometimes it is because the task is boring, but most likely because we just don’t want to take it on.
People who study these types of things have come up with two main classifications:
- Passive – They delay because they have difficulty making decisions
- Active – They purposefully procrastinate because it gives them a sense of excitement that they claim makes them feel challenged or motivated.
There are other more detailed descriptors:
- Perfectionist – This person has a fear of not completing the project or task without error.
- Dreamer – This person doesn’t pay attention to details.
- Defier – The rebel that doesn’t feel anyone should tell them what to do or when to do it.
- Worrier – Doesn’t like to work outside the safety zone of their current knowledge
- Crisis maker – Someone who enjoys working under pressure. If this is someone in authority they also tend to change the criteria at the last minute. They enjoy putting out fires and if there is not one to extinguish, they will light something on fire…figuratively.
- Overdoer – Can’t or won’t say no to anything and as a result has difficulty fitting everything into their timeframe.
Procrastination becomes a serious issue when it is chronic and can have an impact on their lives or the well being of others. This happens when bills are not paid in a timely manner, children don’t have the proper supplies or clothes for school, or a company is impacted by missed deadlines. This can result in:
- Increased illness due to stress
- Difficulties with social relationships
- Irritation and frustration from family, friends, and coworkers
- Financial consequences from unpaid bills and income tax returns
Recognizing this as a problem, there are some ways to help combat procrastination.
- Keep a list of tasks and adjust daily based on due dates
- Take that to-do list and break it down to smaller, manageable tasks
- Identify thoughts of procrastination and force yourself to work a few minutes on the task. Set a timer if necessary.
- Remove sources of distraction like social media
- Reward yourself for completing an odious task with something you find enjoyable but also put a limit on that reward
If you are trying to manage a procrastinator at work, try some of these ideas:
- Keep deadlines short and firm
- Don’t reduce the workload, just dole it out sequentially
- Create accountability
While procrastination is not classified as a mental illness, it is a condition that is often associated with ADHD and can be a reflection of someone suffering depression, anxiety, or even eating disorders. If you feel you may need some counseling, make an appointment with a licensed, qualified mental health provider.