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Last Updated on June 26, 2020

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

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 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!

            Learn more about how to stop procrastinating: What Is Procrastination and How to Stop It (The Complete Guide)

            Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

            Reference

            More by this author

            Leon Ho

            Founder & CEO of Lifehack

            Learning Methods to Help You Learn Effectively and Easily How to Take Advantage of the 80 20 Rule to Succeed in Life How to Find a Sense of Purpose to Live a Full Life How to Set Professional Development Goals for Success Social Learning How Social Learning Helps You Learn Faster and Easier

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            Last Updated on September 30, 2020

            Effective vs Efficient: What’s the Difference Regarding Productivity?

            Effective vs Efficient: What’s the Difference Regarding Productivity?

            When it comes to being effective vs efficient, there are a lot of similarities, and because of this, they’re often misused and misinterpreted, both in daily use and application.

            Every business should look for new ways to improve employee effectiveness and efficiency to save time and energy in the long term. Just because a company or employee has one, however, doesn’t necessarily mean that the other is equally present.

            Utilizing both an effective and efficient methodology in nearly any capacity of work and life will yield high levels of productivity, while a lack of it will lead to a lack of positive results.

            Before we discuss the various nuances between the word effective and efficient and how they factor into productivity, let’s break things down with a definition of their terms.

            Effective vs Efficient

            Effective is defined as “producing a decided, decisive, or desired effect.” Meanwhile, the word “efficient ” is defined as “capable of producing desired results with little or no waste (as of time or materials).”[1]

            A rather simple way of explaining the differences between the two would be to consider a light bulb. Say that your porch light burned out and you decided that you wanted to replace the incandescent light bulb outside with an LED one. Either light bulb would be effective in accomplishing the goal of providing you with light at night, but the LED one would use less energy and therefore be the more efficient choice.

            Now, if you incorrectly set a timer for the light, and it was turned on throughout the entire day, then you would be wasting energy. While the bulb is still performing the task of creating light in an efficient manner, it’s on during the wrong time of day and therefore not effective.

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            The effective way is focused on accomplishing the goal, while the efficient method is focused on the best way of accomplishing the goal.

            Whether we’re talking about a method, employee, or business, the subject in question can be either effective or efficient, or, in rare instances, they can be both.

            When it comes to effective vs efficient, the goal of achieving maximum productivity is going to be a combination where the subject is effective and as efficient as possible in doing so.

            Effectiveness in Success and Productivity

            Being effective vs efficient is all about doing something that brings about the desired intent or effect[2]. If a pest control company is hired to rid a building’s infestation, and they employ “method A” and successfully completed the job, they’ve been effective at achieving the task.

            The task was performed correctly, to the extent that the pest control company did what they were hired to do. As for how efficient “method A” was in completing the task, that’s another story.

            If the pest control company took longer than expected to complete the job and used more resources than needed, then their efficiency in completing the task wasn’t particularly good. The client may feel that even though the job was completed, the value in the service wasn’t up to par.

            When assessing the effectiveness of any business strategy, it’s wise to ask certain questions before moving forward:

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            • Has a target solution to the problem been identified?
            • What is the ideal response time for achieving the goal?
            • Does the cost balance out with the benefit?

            Looking at these questions, a leader should ask to what extent a method, tool, or resource meets the above criteria and achieve the desired effect. If the subject in question doesn’t hit any of these marks, then productivity will likely suffer.

            Efficiency in Success and Productivity

            Efficiency is going to account for the resources and materials used in relation to the value of achieving the desired effect. Money, people, inventory, and (perhaps most importantly) time, all factor into the equation.

            When it comes to being effective vs efficient, efficiency can be measured in numerous ways[3]. In general, the business that uses fewer materials or that is able to save time is going to be more efficient and have an advantage over the competition. This is assuming that they’re also effective, of course.

            Consider a sales team for example. Let’s say that a company’s sales team is tasked with making 100 calls a week and that the members of that team are hitting their goal each week without any struggle.

            The members on the sales team are effective in hitting their goal. However, the question of efficiency comes into play when management looks at how many of those calls turn into solid connections and closed deals.

            If less than 10 percent of those calls generate a connection, the productivity is relatively low because the efficiency is not adequately balancing out with the effect. Management can either keep the same strategy or take a new approach.

            Perhaps they break up their sales team with certain members handling different parts of the sales process, or they explore a better way of connecting with their customers through a communications company.

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            The goal is ultimately going to be finding the right balance, where they’re being efficient with the resources they have to maximize their sales goals without stretching themselves too thin. Finding this balance is often easier said than done, but it’s incredibly important for any business that is going to thrive.

            Combining Efficiency and Effectiveness to Maximize Productivity

            Being effective vs efficient works best if both are pulled together for the best results.

            If a business is ineffective in accomplishing its overall goal, and the customer doesn’t feel that the service is equated with the cost, then efficiency becomes largely irrelevant. The business may be speedy and use minimal resources, but they struggle to be effective. This may put them at risk of going under.

            It’s for this reason that it’s best to shoot for being effective first, and then work on bringing efficiency into practice.

            Improving productivity starts with taking the initiative to look at how effective a company, employee, or method is through performance reviews. Leaders should make a point to regularly examine performance at all levels on a whole, and take into account the results that are being generated.

            Businesses and employees often succumb to inefficiency because they don’t look for a better way, or they lack the proper tools to be effective in the most efficient manner possible.

            Similar to improving a manager or employee’s level of effectiveness, regularly measuring the resources needed to obtain the desired effect will ensure that efficiency is being accounted for. This involves everything from keeping track of inventory and expenses, to how communication is handled within an organization.

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            By putting in place a baseline value for key metrics and checking them once changes have been made, a company will have a much better idea of the results they’re generating.

            It’s no doubt a step-by-step process. By making concentrated efforts, weakness can be identified and rectified sooner rather than later when the damage is already done.

            Bottom Line

            Understanding the differences between being effective vs efficient is key when it comes to maximizing productivity. It’s simply working smart so that the intended results are achieved in the best way possible. Finding the optimal balance should be the ultimate goal for employees and businesses:

            • Take the steps that result in meeting the solution.
            • Review the process and figure out how to do it better.
            • Repeat the process with what has been learned in a more efficient manner.

            And just like that, effective and efficient productivity is maximized.

            More on How to Improve Productivity

            Featured photo credit: Tim van der Kuip via unsplash.com

            Reference

            [1] Merriam-Webster: effective and efficient
            [2] Mind Tools: Being Effective at Work
            [3] Inc.: 8 Things Really Efficient People Do

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