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Last Updated on July 26, 2018

Types of Procrastination (And How To Fix Procrastination And Start Doing)

Types of Procrastination (And How To Fix Procrastination And Start Doing)

We are all guilty of procrastinating from time to time—there’s always something more interesting than the work in hand. We usually think it’s no big deal since deadline is our biggest inspiration, and we do our best work when we’re inspired. We may even joke about it.

However, procrastination is a massive waste of time as it turns out.

A survey in 2015 found that on average, a person loses over 55 days per year procrastinating, wasting around 218 minutes every day on doing unimportant things.[1] Here’s the maths:

218 minutes/day x 365 = 79570 minutes = 55.3 days

That’s a lot of time wasted!

We must fight procrastination to its core.  And we can do this if we become more aware of ourselves and this bad habit called procrastination. Only then can we succeed to crush it and reach our goals.

5 Types of procrastination (and how to fix them)

There’re mainly 5 common reasons why people procrastinate. To help you identify the reason why you put things off easily, here’re 5 types of procrastination. Let’s see which one you find yourself more relatable to:

Type 1: The Perfectionist

    They are the ones who pay too much attention to the minor details. The perfectionist is afraid to start a task because they get stressed out about getting every detail right. They can also get stuck in the process even when they’ve started since they’re just too scared to move on.

    Advice for the Perfectionist:

    Instead of letting your obsession with details take up all your time, be clear about the purpose of your tasks and assign a time limit to each task.[2] This will force you to stay focused and finish your task within the time frame.

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    For example:

    If you’re going to write a report, be clear about the purpose of the report first.

    If the goal of having the report is to clearly present the changes in data over the past few months, don’t sweat too much about writing up a lot of dainty words; rather, focus more on the figures and charts. Just make sure the goal can be reached, and there’s really no need to work on things that don’t help you achieve the ultimate goal.

    Type 2: The Dreamer

      This is someone who enjoys making the ideal plan more than taking actions. They are highly creative, but find it hard to actually finish a task.

      Advice for the Dreamer

      To stop yourself from being carried away by your endless imagination, get your feet back on the ground by setting specific (and achievable) goals for each day based on the SMART framework. Set a goal and break down the plan into small tasks that you can take actions right away.[3]

      For example:

      If you dream about waking up earlier every day, set a clear goal about it – “In 3 weeks, I will wake up at 6:30am every day.”

      Then, break this goal down into smaller tasks:

      • From tonight onwards, I will go to sleep before 11:00pm.
        • Set alarm to remind me to go to sleep
        • Schedule earlier friends gathering so I can go to sleep early
      • For the 1st week, I will wake up at 7:30am even for non-working days
        • Go jogging or swimming in the morning for weekends

      … and the task list goes on.

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      Also, you should reflect on your progress while you work. Track your input and output for each task, so you can easily tell which tasks are only a waste of time with little importance.[4] This can help you focus on doing the things that bring positive results, which will improve productivity.

      Type 3: The Avoider

        The worrier are scared to take on tasks that they think they can’t manage. They would rather put off work than be judged by others when they end up making mistakes.

        Advice for the Avoider

        I know checking emails seems tempting, but don’t make answering emails the first thing on your to-do list.[5] More often than not, emails are unimportant. But they steal your time and mental energy before you even notice.

        Instead, focus on the worst first.[6] Spend your morning working on what you find the most challenging. This will give you a sense of achievement, and helps you build momentum for a productive day ahead.

        Try to break down your tasks into smaller sub-tasks. Understand how much time and energy is really needed for a given task. Make realistic calculations.

        For example:

        A 2000-word report does seem to take a lot of time and effort, it does seem scary to just start working on it. But is there anyway to break this down into smaller pieces so it’ll seem less scary? What about this:

        • Introduction: around 100 words (15 min)
        • Table of content (5 min)
        • Report on the financial status: a chart with 100 supporting text (20 min)
        • Case study: 3 cases based on the new business model with around 400 words each (around 40 min each)
        • Conclusion: around 800 words (30 min)

        Does it look a lot more easier now?

        Type 4: The Crisis-maker

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          Now the crisis-maker deliberately pushes back work until the last minute. They find deadlines (the crises) exciting, and believe that they work best when being forced to rush it.

          Advice for the Crisis-maker

          Being forced to rush the work will perform better is just an illusion because it actually leaves you no room for reviewing the work to make it better afterwards.

          If you always leave work until the last minute, try using the Pomodoro technique. Literally the ‘tomato technique’ developed by Italian entrepreneur Francesco Cirillo.[7]

          It focuses on working in short, intensely focused bursts, and then giving yourself a brief break to recover and start over.

          For example:

          Use a timer and divide your complex work into small manageable sessions. In between the small sessions, give yourself a break to recover.

          While giving your brain a regular break can highly boost your performance by recharging your brain’s energy;[8] having completed the tasks earlier allows you to have plenty of time to go through your work again to make it even better.

          Type 5: The Busy Procrastinator

            This type of procrastinators are the fussy ones. They have trouble prioritizing tasks because they either have too many of them or refuse to work on what they see as unworthy of their effort. They don’t know how to choose the task that’s best for them and simply postpone making any decisions.[9]

            Advice for the Busy Procrastinator

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            You have to get your priorities straight. Important tasks should take priority over urgent ones because ‘urgent’ doesn’t always mean important.[10] You only have so much time and energy, and you don’t want to waste that on things that don’t matter.

            Identify the purpose of your task and the expected outcome. Important tasks are the ones that add value in the long run.

            Replying an email that’s written “please get back to me asap” seems to be urgent, but before you reply that email, think about how important it is compared to other tasks.

            For example:

            Imagine the email is sent by a client asking about the progress of a project and she wants you to reply her as soon as possible; at the same time you have another task about fixing the logistics problem that is affecting all the projects on hand. Which one should you handle first?

            The time cost for replying an email is as low as just around 5 minutes but the benefit is also very low because you’re just satisfying one client request. Fixing the logistic problem probably takes a lot more time but it’s also a lot more worth it because by fixing the problem, you’re saving all the projects on hands, benefiting the whole company.

            Beat procrastination now!

            You may notice most of the characteristics of procrastinators have to do with their mindset. People keep delaying work because of fear. This is exactly why tweaking our attitude towards work can help us stop procrastinating.

            Changing your mindset may seem a lot of work. But by doing the smallest things every day, you’re getting used to the way you handle works — from setting goals, to breaking down tasks, to evaluating each task’s values.

            There is no tomorrow when it comes to this particular habit.  You just have to beat it now!

            Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

            Reference

            More by this author

            Leon Ho

            Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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            Last Updated on September 20, 2018

            8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

            8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

            You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

            Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

            When you train your brain, you will:

            • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
            • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. No problem for you to pick up a new language or new management skill.
            • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. Alzheimer’s will not be affecting you.

            So how to train your brain and improve your cognitive skills?

            1. Work your memory

            Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

            When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

            If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

            The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

            Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

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            Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

            What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

            For example, say you just met someone new:

            “Hi, my name is George”

            Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.”

            Got it? Good.

            2. Do something different repeatedly

            By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

            Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

            It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

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            And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

            But how does this apply to your life right now?

            Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

            Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

            Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

            So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

            You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

            That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

            3. Learn something new

            It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

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            For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

            Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

            You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

            4. Follow a brain training program

            The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

            5. Work your body

            You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

            Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

            Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

            Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

            6. Spend time with your loved ones

            If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

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            If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

            I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

            7. Avoid crossword puzzles

            Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

            Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

            Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

            8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

            Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

            When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

            So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

            The bottom line

            Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

            Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

            Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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