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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

5 Types of Procrastination (And How to Fix Each of Them)

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5 Types of Procrastination (And How to Fix Each of Them)

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

However, procrastination is a massive waste of time and can greatly hurt productivity.

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

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 in reaching our goals.

5 Types of Procrastination (And How to Fix Them)

There are 5 common reasons why people procrastinate. To help you identify the reason why you put things off easily, here are 5 types of procrastination and procrastinators.

Type 1: The Perfectionist

The perfectionist procrastination

    They are the ones who pay too much attention to the minor details. The perfectionist is afraid to start the task at hand 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 to deal with this type of procrastination.[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

    The dreamer procrastination

      This is someone who enjoys making the ideal plan more than taking action. 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 with this type of procrastination, 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 action on right away.[3]

      For example:

      If you dream about waking up earlier every day, set a clear goal for 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 friend gatherings 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

      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. This can help you focus on doing the things that bring positive results, which will improve productivity.

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      Type 3: The Avoider

      The avoider procrastination

        The worriers 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.[4] 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 to tackle this type of procrastination. Spend your morning working on what you find the most challenging. This will give you a sense of achievement, and it 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, and make realistic calculations.

        For example:

        A 2000-word report does seem to take a lot of time and effort, and 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? You can try this:

        • Introduction: around 100 words (15 min)
        • Table of content (5 min)
        • Report on the financial status: a chart with 100 words 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 easier now?

        Type 4: The Crisis-Maker

        The crisis-maker procrastination

          The crisis-maker deliberately pushes back work until the last minute. They find deadlines (the crises) exciting and believe that they work best when working under pressure, which causes them to manage their time poorly.

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          Advice for the Crisis-Maker

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

          If you always leave work until the last minute, try using the Pomodoro technique, developed by Italian entrepreneur Francesco Cirillo.

          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, 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

          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.

            Advice for the Busy Procrastinator

            You have to get your priorities straight when you run into this type of procrastination. Important tasks should take priority over urgent ones because “urgent” doesn’t always mean important. 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.

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            Replying to an email that says “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 to 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 to an email is low, but the benefit is also very low because you’re just satisfying one client’s 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.

            The Bottom Line

            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 like a lot of work, but by doing the smallest things every day, you’re getting used to the way you handle work—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 have to overcome procrastination today. Get more tips in this Lifehack Fast-Track Class: No More Procrastination.

            More on Overcoming the Types of Procrastination

            Featured photo credit: Nick Fewings via unsplash.com

            Reference

            More by this author

            Leon Ho

            Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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            Last Updated on October 21, 2021

            10 Most Effective Apps to Help You Beat Procrastination

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            10 Most Effective Apps to Help You Beat Procrastination

            You sit down at your desk, open your computer, and set out to work on an urgent project. Just, hold on—one more Twitter notification to check before you really get started. If you don’t have a stop procrastinating app, you’ve just entered the procrastination rabbit hole.

            Three hours later, you find yourself scrolling through Pinterest, color-coordinating bridesmaids’ dresses and butterfly-themed table decorations, even though you’re not getting married. Oops.

            Procrastination. It is a scourge most of us struggle with—a hurdle on the way to leading a productive, fulfilling life. Especially now that many of us are confined to makeshift home offices by Covid lockdowns, we struggle to keep distractions at bay[1].

            But how can you stop putting off important tasks? How can you really silence that pesky inner voice of distraction?

            Fortunately, modern technology offers many apps to help you in your battle. Choose your stop procrastination app from the list below to keep you on track and eliminate distractions.

            1. Focus@Will

              Based on neuroscience research, Focus@Will uses music to boost concentration and get you into a productivity flow. You can choose between different channels, ranging from Baroque piano and ambient music to Electro Bach and the funky beats of Alpha Chill.

              According to research, the app can extend your focus periods by 200-400%. It also offers a timer function and productivity tracker. A channel recommender helps you pick the right music for your needs, depending on your personality type, the kind of task you’re dealing with, and whether you’re struggling with mental health issues such as ADHD.

              Focus@Will is available for both Android and iOS and as a web app. Subscriptions start at $69 annually.

              Get the app!

              2. Focus To-Do

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                As a great stop procrastination app, Focus To-Do combines the Pomodoro technique with to-do list features. In case you haven’t come across it before, Pomodoro is one of the most effective productivity techniques. It’s built around 25-minute work sessions interspersed with 5-minute breaks.

                Focus To-Do allows you to define tasks, including subtasks and recurring tasks, and assign deadlines. You can then work through the items on your list one-by-one using the Pomodoro technique.

                The app is available on all major platforms, including smartwatches. Your tasks will be synchronized across devices. The basic app is free, and premium plans start at $2.99 per month, with a lifetime license option priced at $8.99.

                Get the app!

                3. RescueTime

                  RescueTime boasts a rare 5.0 “outstanding” score by PCMag and is one of the most widely-used productivity tools popular with freelancers, designers, and developers[2]. It automatically tracks the time you spend on various websites and applications, and classifies them into categories. Using this information, you can analyze where and when you are productive and what the major threats to your productivity are.

                  More importantly, RescueTime allows you to summarily block out distractions, which is excellent for Pomodoro sessions. You can also set goals, such as spending less time on your emails or social media, and RescueTime will automatically assist you in reaching them.

                  The app is available on all major platforms and offers a free lite version, and its premium plans start at $6.50/month (billed annually). It also integrates with a variety of other productivity tools, such as calendar apps and Slack.

                  Get the app!

                  4. Forest

                    As a gamified stop procrastinating app, Forest is a great way to motivate yourself to stay focused. Each time you start a focus session, you plant a tree in the app. While you work, it will grow on your screen. However, if you leave the app during the session, your tree dies off.

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                    The goal is to motivate you to not use your phone, removing a significant source of distraction.

                    By completing your focus sessions, you can grow an entire forest over time. This isn’t just visually appealing, but an uplifting representation of how much work you’ve managed to get done. Your forest has a real-life impact as well. The larger you grow it, the more “coins” you can earn in the app. And using those, the app team plants actual trees.

                    Forest is available on iOS, Android, and as a Firefox extension. It’s $1.99, with optional in-app purchases.

                    Get the app!

                    5. Rocket 135

                      For those overwhelmed by to-do lists, Rocket 135 allows you to prioritize your tasks. Rather than having to face multiple stressful, anxiety-inducing tasks per day, you pick one important project, three of medium importance, and five of low importance to complete.

                      This app lets you customize basic list types, archive tasks, assign them to themes, and collaborate with other users. It synchronizes across devices and offers a limited free version. The premium version is available at $2.50 monthly or $25 annually.

                      Get the app!

                      6. CARROT To-Do

                        Like Forest, CARROT To-Do is an iOS app that turns productivity into a game to beat procrastination.

                        You can set yourself a simple to-do list and get rewarded with “fortune cookies” and several hundred unique rewards for completed tasks. But beware! Fail to complete your tasks, and you will lose your rewards or be leveled down. A unique feature of CARROT’s is that it is branded as having a personality, with an attitude to match. “I am your new taskmaster,” it declares.

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                        The app comes at a one-time cost of $2.99, with some in-app purchases for different themes and icons.

                        Get the app!

                        7. Freedom

                          If gamification isn’t your style, Freedom is a stop procrastinating app that offers a somewhat harsher approach to battling procrastination. It will block distracting apps and websites—synced across all your devices. It’s even possible to shut the internet out entirely if you have to focus on an offline project.

                          The app can be downloaded for Mac and Windows, or installed as an extension for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. iOS and Android apps are also available. Premium plans start at $2.42/month (billed annually).

                          Get the app!

                          8. Momentum

                            With an aesthetic approach to productivity, Momentum is sure to keep you focused. This browser extension for Chrome, Firefox, and Edge combines beautiful nature wallpapers, a distraction-free time display, inspirational quotes, and a prioritized to-do list.

                            In the free version of the app, you can set yourself daily priorities and other tasks. The premium option, at $3.33/month, also includes a Pomodoro timer and syncs with popular task managers.

                            Momentum is perfect for arriving at work after a stressful commute, or for creating an atmospheric setting in your (home) office.

                            Get the app!

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                            9. Take a Five

                              Breaks are essential. Unfortunately, they are also procrastination pitfalls. A quick five-minute breather can only too easily turn into an hour wasted on Facebook.

                              This stop procrastinating app, Take a Five, helps you avoid that. You set a timer for however long you want your break to be and open a tab. Once your time is up, the app will automatically close this tab and remind you to go back to work. No more going down scrolling rabbit holes.

                              Take a Five is available for free as a web app.

                              Get the app!

                              10. Mindly

                                If a single look at your growing, deadline-laden to-do list sends you into a cold sweat, Mindly is the solution for you. This app helps you organize the deadlines, lists, and reminders cluttering your mind in a three-dimensional manner.

                                You can create an infinite number of circles that connect related ideas and projects. Each circle can be color-coded, tagged with summaries, and annotated with emojis. Harnessing the power of associations, you can keep your inner universe organized.

                                Mindly syncs across devices. It offers a limited free version for Android and iOS that can be upgraded to premium for a one-time $6.99. Furthermore, a desktop app is available for Mac at $29.99.

                                Get the app!

                                Final Thoughts

                                Procrastination, once started, is hard to stop, but these apps can help you get back to being productive and completing all of those to-do lists you’ve been avoiding. Find which one works for you and get started with it today.

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                                More Tips on Stopping Procrastination

                                Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

                                Reference

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