According to Leon Ho’s chart, you could be a Chicken, Ostrich, Perfectionist, Daredevil or Self-Saboteur procrastinator.
Whichever one you are, being a procrastinator can easily derail your career (and your life). This is a good time to take action.
1. Identify your triggers: the 5 types of procrastinator
Identifying the type of procrastination you personally experience is an essential step for you to fix the problem at its root.
Take a look at this flowchart here to find out what type of procrastinator you are:
Which type of procrastinator are you? Let’s take a look at the triggers for your procrastination type:
Being perfect is the pleasure perfectionists want. But often this leads to them being too scared to show any imperfections. Because of this, they frequently fail to complete things, as they’re forever seeking the perfect timing or approach. Tasks end up never being completed, because in the eyes of the perfectionist, things are never perfect enough.
Instead of finishing something, perfectionists get caught up in a never-ending cycle of additions, edits, and deletions.
An ostrich prefers to stay in the dreaming stage. That way, they don’t have to work for real, or deal with any negativity or stress.
Dreaming gives this type of people a false sense of achievement, as in their minds, they envision big, ambitious plans. Unfortunately for them, these plans will most likely stay as dreams, and they’ll never accomplish anything truly worthwhile.
A self-saboteur has bought into the line that ‘by doing nothing, bad things won’t happen.’
In reality, self-saboteurs have developed a fear of making mistakes or doing anything wrong. Their way to avoid these mishaps, is to do nothing at all. In the end, they may make few mistakes – but they also see few accomplishments.
Daredevils are those who believe that deadlines can push them to do better. Instead of having a schedule to complete their work – they prefer to enjoy time doing their own thing before the deadline comes around.
It’s most likely an unconscious thing, but daredevils evidently believe that starting early will sacrifice their time for pleasure. This is reinforced in their minds and feelings, by the many times they manage to get away with burning the midnight oil. Often they sacrifice the quality of their work because of rushing it.
Chickens lack the ability to prioritize their work. They do what they feel like they should do, rather than thinking through what they really need to do.
Prioritizing tasks is a step that takes extra time, so chicken will feel it’s not worth it. Because of this, they usually end up doing a lot of effortless tasks that don’t contribute much to a project. They’re incessantly busy on low-impact tasks, but seem oblivious to urgent, high-impact tasks.
2. Face your Procrastinator triggers and get rid of them
Whether it’s fear of failure, overwhelming feelings, avoidance or convincing yourself you’re just too busy to get something done, you can improve your ability to be productive by eliminating your procrastination triggers.
For Perfectionists, re-clarify your goals.
Much of the time procrastination tendencies form simply because we’ve outgrown our goals. We’re ever-changing and so are our wants in life. Try looking over your goals and ask yourself if they’re still what you want.
For Ostriches, do the difficult tasks first.
Even if you feel you’re not a morning person, the beginning of the day is when your brain is most productive. Use this window of time to get the more difficult stuff done.
If you leave your difficult tasks to later, you’re much more likely to put it off because you’re tired and lack motivation.
For Self-saboteurs, write out a to-do (and a not–to-do) list each day.
Writing things down is powerful and psychologically increases your need to get things done. Each day, make a habit of creating a list of the tasks you know you’ll try and avoid. By doing this, it brings these ‘difficult’ tasks to your mind’s attention instead of keeping them locked away somewhere in your avoidance mode.
For Daredevils, create a timeline with deadlines.
Create a bigger timeline then within that, establish deadlines along the way. The beauty of this comes when each deadline completion is dependent on the next. It keeps you on track and keeps you accountable for being in alignment with the overall timeline.
For Chickens, break tasks into bite-sized pieces.
A lot of the time procrastination comes from overwhelming thoughts. If something feels too big to tackle and we don’t know where to start, it feels like a struggle. This is also true if our goal is too vague and lacking direction. Break down larger tasks into smaller ones and turn them into daily or weekly goals. Smaller steps may seem like the slower approach to achieving a goal, but it often leads you much more quickly to where you want to be due to the powerful momentum you get going.
3. Take planned breaks
The human brain isn’t designed to work continuously on the same task and this could be a reason for procrastination. Make sure you take regular, structured breaks away from your task so that you can come back refreshed and ready to be more productive.
4. Reward yourself
It’s important to acknowledge and reward yourself for achieving even the small tasks. It creates a sense of motivation and releases those feel-good, productive emotions that spur you on to achieve even more.
5. Keep track of your time in a smart way
If you want to prevent the bad habit of procrastination from coming back, keep track of the time you spend every day. By having a clear idea of where you spend your time, you can always review your productivity and know which areas to improve.
In his closing comments, he explained
“Procrastination exists for many reasons and only you know for yourselves what these triggers are. Understanding the source of your avoidance tendencies is important in moving them out of the way and help you start the productivity momentum.”