6 Distinct Types Of Procrastination You Should Watch For In Yourself

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Though people have struggled with procrastination since the beginning of time, the digital age has altered the nature of the procrastination beast.

Distractions abound. Diversions call. Entertainment beckons. Then before you know it, the day has gone, and you’re left with this sinking feeling that you’ve accomplished nothing of significance.

Procrastination in the digital age

If you ever needed an excuse to put things off, the digital age willingly provides it for you. Never have there been so many accessible, affordable, appealing, and addictive distractions.

Think about how often your electronic gizmos gobble up your time. Recognize how easy it is for you to get hooked on social networks, blogs, gaming, YouTube, texting, Podcasts, chat rooms, video streaming, and the list goes on.

Add up the hours you spend on stuff that has nothing to do with your personal or career goals. Is it any wonder that you’re tiptoeing at the edge of the Boulevard of Broken Dreams?

Though there are plenty of pre-digital ways to fritter away time (zoning out, napping, junk TV), it’s just so much easier and entertaining in the digital age. You’re just going to read your e-mail, just view a funny YouTube, and just post a few photos to Facebook. And before you know it, just a few minutes have become a few hours, and just a few hours have become the better part of the day.

Don’t live one more day regretting how you spent your time. You deserve better. You can do better.

Understanding what procrastination really is.

Some people believe it’s nothing more than laziness. Sorry, not true. The crux of procrastination is that it’s an unresolved "approach-avoidance" conflict. A part of you knows you need (or even want) to do a task but another part of you resists doing it. You're torn between two impulses: “to do or not to do.” 

Such ambivalence makes it tough for you to choose a clear commitment to action. So what happens?

Perhaps you start doing the task, but lingering resistance results in your working at a snail’s pace and you end up stuck. Maybe you put forth the effort, but believe your results will never be good enough. You may even give up altogether — convinced that you're just lazy and there's nothing you can do. 

Yes, different patterns may fuel your procrastination. It is helpful to know the way procrastination presents itself to get on the road to eliminating it from your life.

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Here are six different styles of procrastination that abound in the digital age:

1. The Perfectionist: "But, it’s not perfect!"

As a perfectionist, you find it difficult to complete a task because you don’t want to do anything less than a perfect job. You may be concerned about satisfying your own high standards or the high expectations you believe others have of you.

Once you’ve started a task, you may spend far more time and energy working on it than is needed. Overworking, paradoxically, is an unrecognized form of procrastination.

Though you work hard, you don’t always work smart!

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2. The Dreamer: "But, I hate dealing with those annoying details!"

As a dreamer, you’re great at championing creative ideas but turning those ideas into full-blown realities is where you get lost.

Soaring thinking without ground-level doing leads to disappointing results. “It’s hard to do” easily morphs into “It’s too tough to do.” Uncomfortable with the practical world, you may retreat into whimsical ways to obtain success, like winning the lottery or somehow, someday you’ll get your lucky break.

3. The Worrier: "But, I’m afraid to make a change!"

As a worrier, you hesitate to leave your comfort zone. You proceed through life with caution, working about “what might happen if.”

Confronting change and dealing with risk are challenging for you, hence you find it tough to make decisions. Even after you’ve made a decision, you tend to second-guess it.

Maximizing the difficulty of a problem while minimizing your ability to cope with it erodes your self-confidence, making it tough for you to continue working.

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4. The Crisis-Maker: "But, I work best under pressure!"

As a crisis-maker, you crave living on the edge.

Addicted to the rush of high emotion, imminent danger, and emergency activity, you delight in pulling things off at the final moment. Though rising to the occasion of a last-minute crisis may initially feel victorious, it does get tiring.

Though you stayed up all night to work on your presentation, you know it wasn’t as good as it could have been had you started working on it earlier.

5. The Defier: "But, why should I have to do it?”

As a defier, you may be openly rebellious, passive-aggressive, or a combination of the two. If you have an openly rebellious style, you directly defy authority.

Procrastination is one way to do this as it lets you set your own time schedule, one that no one else controls.

As a passive-aggressive procrastinator, you’re less blatant with your defiance. You simply say you’ll do things, but don’t. Both types of defiers tend to view routine tasks as impositions on their time rather than as responsibilities to take in stride.

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6. The Pleaser: "But, I have so much to do!”

As a pleaser, you find it hard to say “no” to others; hence your own needs often end up at the bottom of the pile. With so much to do, you feel frazzled by the lack of time, frenzied by your countless commitments. Since it’s tough for you to refuse requests, procrastination becomes your indirect way of saying “no.”

You’ve yet to master the skills of creating priorities, establishing boundaries, and setting limits, which makes you a prime candidate for early burnout.

No matter what you believe your procrastination pattern stems from, always remember that you are more than your label.

Don’t give up on yourself. Believe in what you can do, work at what you must do and one day you’ll reach your goals.

Yes, it’ll take time. And effort. But so what? Your dream is worth it — you’re worth it!

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Linda Sapadin, Ph.D. is a psychologist and coach in private practice who specializes in helping people overcome self-defeating patterns of behavior, especially procrastination, fear, and passive-aggressive behavior.