Do you feel like you are always playing catch up, missing deadlines, or putting off activities you planned to do for things that are less important? If so, you are not alone. Twenty percent of individuals identify themselves as procrastinators.
According to researchers, procrastination has more than quadrupled in the last 30 years! Procrastination has become so common for some that they shrug it off and simply describe procrastination as a way of life.
The problem with procrastination is more than just not getting things done, or only done at the last minute, it is what it does to our lives overall:
- 40% of procrastinators have experienced financial loss, missing professional opportunities or paying extra in the long run in late fees after putting off paying bills, tickets or taxes.
- Our relationships are hurt and impacted resulting in higher rates of divorce.
- The accompanying stress and anxiety contribute to headaches, sleeplessness, lowered immune system function, depression, heart disease, and high blood pressure.
- Our self-confidence, satisfaction and happiness have a negative impact
As a trained Nurse Practitioner and ADHD Life Coach for over 15 years, I can honestly say one of the most common challenges for my clients is procrastination… putting important tasks off…not being able to start a task…thinking there’s more time to complete a task. One client once said to me as we were exploring her procrastination: “I’m not a procrastinator… I am a time optimist!” In fact, she was not too far from the truth.
There are many different reasons people procrastinate and I call these your “procrastination style”. Following are seven procrastination styles, their pitfalls, and simple solutions. Which one(s) describe you?
The Optimist: This style of procrastinator truly believes they have plenty of time to complete a task. You can spot an optimist procrastinator because they seem upbeat, relaxed; even carefree in the midst of a looming deadline. That is until time runs out. The pitfall for many optimist procrastinators is that they have a different perception or sense of time than other people. To them, time is a vague intangible concept. One way to know if you are an optimist procrastinator is to consider how you currently keep track of time. Most optimist procrastinators will have few if any external tools, like clocks or alarms in their environment to help them keep track of time. If they do, often these will not be set accurately, or not in working order. One time optimist proclaimed, “I love clocks. I have lots of beautiful clocks in my home, I just don’t think they are working.”
I call this difference in the perception of time, being “time blind.” Similar to being color blind, optimist procrastinators may not even realize they experience time differently than most. Optimist procrastinators will also have difficulty accurately estimating time. For example, optimists will underestimate the amount of time needed to complete a task or be overly optimistic about how much they can complete in a small amount of time. Optimist procrastinators are known for “five-minute-itis”: thinking they can accomplish a list of tasks in only five minutes. They also can experience the passage of time differently. For instance, if they are innately interested in a task, two hours can seem like five minutes. However, if they are innately uninterested in an activity, five minutes can feel like two hours.
If this is you, here are strategies to improve your likelihood of success:
- Increase the environmental cues that remind you of time and the passage of time. Have analog clocks in every corner of your environment, including the bathroom and garage.
- Track how long common tasks or activities actually take you to complete. Most often, there is a huge “aha” when you discover realistically how much you can accomplish in a given time.