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What Kind of Procrastinator Are You?

WhatkindIf you are tired of putting off decisions or taking action in life and want to overcome procrastination, you need to understand in depth how you become a procrastinator. Only when you understand what might be happening with you can you consider real change. Some of this material may be challenging for you and I want you to remember that self-growth only arises out of self-challenge.

Looking at your procrastination style is not a judgment on you as a person. It is simply an examination of the archetypes (typical types) of the way people think. You may fit an archetype exactly or only elements of each archetype may apply to you. You may even stretch across one or more archetypes.

I have profiled 10 types of procrastinator styles that I have seen in my clients over the years. They are not the only procrastinator styles; there are more. You may have a procrastinator style that I have not mentioned. We all have some of these styles operating in our behaviours at some point in our lives. In some people, however, they may have predominately one particular style of procrastination.

The complainer

The complainer has a lifelong sense of dissatisfaction. Nothing is ever good enough for them. They judge everything in their life by measuring it up to their list of disappointments in the past.

They also believe everything in their future will produce a disappointment. They are the ultimate pessimist. So they avoid decisions and tasks because they do not anticipate any kind of good outcome. Their major motto is, “Why bother?”

This wreaks havoc in their life and the lives of others because they fail to engage sufficiently in a positive way to produce any positive outcomes from any decision.

The avoider

The avoider never volunteers for anything. They hide at the back during the taking of a group photograph. Being noticed and put on the spot, being asked to make a decision is their worst nightmare. Facing people, decisions, tasks and being judged is terrifying to the avoider. They might start many tasks but often do not follow them through. The avoider may sign up for a project but drop out suddenly.

The avoider has a very deep-seated sense of not being good enough. They exhibit absolutely no self-confidence. However, sometimes avoiders fake it by seeming very self-confident and even gregarious to cover up their inner lack of self-belief. It becomes a charade.

They are afraid that any decision they make will not be the right one and everyone will discover that they are incompetent. They agonise about decision making and may go on for years, putting up with something that is uncomfortable for them rather than speak up.

The deceiver

The deceiver plays a very dangerous game and sooner or later they always get burned. The deception works on two levels. They constantly deceive themselves about reality. Reality is way too scary for them and as soon as they are presented with reality they try to cover it up with major lies.

When it comes to making a decision they pervert the facts of the choices inside their mind, get overwhelmed by the confusion, and then run away from the truth. So they are constantly unable to make decisions, and instead procrastinate.

Any tasks they do end up never to be what was intended. They constantly make things up as they go along because, they believe, there is more chance of them succeeding if they are conning everyone. Since they are making up the rules, they think it is more likely they will succeed. Their problem, however, is that they are not working in reality so they rarely succeed and everything ends unfinished so they procrastinate as an excuse.

The lazy one

The lazy one is the champion of excuses. If there is a task that may take 10 minutes to do, they will spend one hour devising an excuse about why not to do it.

Making decisions can be difficult for them because they know if they do actually make a decision, they may have to do a task, and that is to be avoided at all costs. The lazy one actually makes a good diplomat because they never commit themselves to anything. They will skirt around issues but never get into depth.

The fearful one

The fearful one really wants to have made a decision but part way through they get nervous about their ability to cope. They can be very jolly people at times but it is a practiced mask.

They avoid making decisions for fear of getting something wrong. They frequently ask other people what they think. It is their ‘get out of jail free’ card. If you ask them what they think, they will more than likely answer, “I don’t know” and to turn the question back on you for an answer. They attempt a decision but procrastinate about whether they have the right solution.

If you ask them to do a task they do often do it well because they are so worried about being seen as not doing the task. They can be quite conscientious about their work but the fear they may get something wrong stays with them. They make very good and loyal friends and prefer to be told what time to meet rather than decide for themselves.

The angry one

The angry one will do anything but what they were asked to do. A request is seen as a draconian order and they are resentful that another person should ask them to do anything. They procrastinate as long as they possibly can before complying, often not complying at all.

Their whole life is consumed by anger. They may complete a task but with a sense of resentment towards others. Often they will avoid a task because other people might want it doing. They believe they are right and everyone else is wrong and cannot understand why other people cannot see that simple plain fact.

There is never a good day to ask the angry one to do something for you or make a good decision as they will procrastinate about any reason not to do that because you asked them.

The fantasist

The fantasist does not live in the same world as the rest of us. They have their own separate world where they live most of the time. It is a form of dissociation. They may have been hurt or ignored as a child and they simply find the real world too hard and confronting so they spend a great deal of life in their inside world.

To try and get them to do things can be quite hard because they feel that they are on the clock and want to get back into their own inner fantasy world. When you talk to them their eyes glaze over, they zone out and go into a dissociated trance.

Decision making is very hard for them so they put off making decisions. They are unable to cope with a large number of facts. Their mind becomes scrambled when they have to be pinned down to make precise, accurate decisions and they retreat into their internal world.

The irresponsible one

This procrastinator is complex because they have two main drivers. The first driver is that, like any task or decision, it is just not important. They have no sense of consequences of their actions. Their focus is always in the present and they never think of the consequences of their actions through into the future. In their mind there is no connection between what they do or do not do today and any outcome in the future.

The more dangerous driver inside their mind is, “It has nothing to do with me so I won’t deal with it”. Even if your arm dropped off in front of them they would procrastinate about how it was nothing to do with them. Their irresponsibility is deeply egocentric. Everything in their world has to relate to them to register. They would probably be very good long distance travellers in outer space as they have the alibility not to have to relate to others.

The projector

The projector only has one world view. Everything in their world is coloured by their world view. They do not have any other perspectives to colour the way they think or act. This means that their perceptions are incredibly limited. They take to religion, philosophies, and specific social practices very easily and swallow the whole dogma absolutely and completely. The projector only has one way of looking at things.

If you ask them to do something that even questions their belief system, they will shut down and recite dogma to quantify not having to carry out the task. They will stand there and procrastinate and quote all day long rather than complete the task.

Decision making is very difficult for them because all decisions are filtered through their very rigid belief systems. To make decisions that are relevant to the outside world is near impossible for them as their whole world is very subjective and they are unable to be objective. In other words, they can only see things through their own eyes. Therefore they avoid a whole host of decision making.

The rusher

The rusher wants to get through everything as fast as they possibly can. They have no time or patience for any detail. The end result is not that important for them as long as they have finished a task. They live only in the future and do not have time for the present. Anything that requires a person to take their time and pay attention to detail is boring and even frightening to them so they avoid all such tasks. They make lots of excuses to get out of anything that needs their attention in the present.

Their decision making skills are very poor because they pay little attention to the present situation so they are unable to plot a good way forward to the future. They have very poor patience. They can get very annoyed and dismissive if people explain that they have not got a good grip on the present.

Exercise: What procrastinator style are you?

1. Take a pen and piece of paper or use a computer.

2. List the kind of procrastinator style you are. You can even list another style.

3. Describe how that procrastinator style is operating for you in your behaviours.

4. Try and work out what drives your procrastinator style. What are the drivers (drivers are the motivations that fuel a behaviour) that are feeding your procrastination behaviour?

5. How does that affect your decision making skills?

6. How does it stop you engaging in tasks and following them through?

The good news is that once you have identified your procrastination style or styles, you can take steps to overcome them and engage in goal directed behaviour.

For more help in overcoming procrastination, see my Stop Procrastination Hypnosis downloadable program.

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