Busy but not succeeding? Are you a procrastinator or a go-getter?

Do you find yourself a spectator of your own life or a non-starter? Full of grand ideas, but never quite seem to get the ball rolling?

Perhaps you get most things done, but then tend to put off others. If there is a deadline looming and your career or studies depend on it, you eventually knuckle down and get the work done. But when it comes to health, happiness, dreams and relationships, not so much?

Well, you’re not alone. I think all of us have the potential to procrastinate.

What is a procrastinator?

A procrastinator is someone who frequently (often repeatedly and unnecessarily) delays or puts off tasks until the last minute, or even past the deadline. Either the tasks are difficult or something you may not want to do (like the dentist or household chores). Someone repeatedly delays working on assignments until right before their deadline for no reason, even though they know that it would be better for them to start earlier.

Does this sound familiar? Maybe you or someone you know is a procrastinator.

There are different ways to procrastinate, I know I am guilty of a few of these:

  • Someone who skims through social media when they should be working, often losing hours to TikTok, YouTube or other largely unhelpful but entertaining stuff. Then belittling themselves and get frustrated for it and wish they never started — Me!
  • Someone who stays up long after they should at night, watching videos, social media, etc, despite knowing that this makes them exhausted — Me
  • Someone who often does useful things (busy work), such as cleaning the kitchen, when they should be doing more important things, such as work assignments — totally Me
  • Someone who keeps promising themselves that they’ll get started on ‘that’ project “one day” or “soon,” but never actually makes any progress, and instead just dreams about their future success.
  • Someone who makes lists of things to do, but never actually gets them done
  • Someone who postpones dealing with unpleasant tasks (e.g., paying bills or going to the dentist), even though the issue becomes worse the longer they wait — Me
  • Someone who fails to ask someone else for something they want (e.g., a promotion, favor, or date) every time they have the opportunity to do so, even though they wish they could just ask and get it over with — Me

Is procrastination really all that bad?

Some research I read claims that 20% of us are chronic procrastinators (see more busy work). But there are different types of procrastinators, some are worse than others. This is by no means a full list, just ones I seem to know or see in myself.

  • Anxious — worried or stressed about the outcome
  • Perfectionists — they get the work done, but then revise and revise as they are concerned it is not perfect
  • Over planner — spend so long researching something but not actually starting it or leaving it mostly to the last minute
  • Overwhelmed — not sure where to start, so they don’t
  • Introvert — don’t want to deal with people
  • Extrovert — too busy being with people and having fun
  • Lazy — it’s easier to do nothing than get started
  • Impulsive — too easily distracted by other tasks
  • Thrill-seeker — lives on the adrenaline from rushing to finish tasks on time

What is a go-getter?

A go-getter is the complete opposite of a procrastinator, or so they say. But I don’t think it’s one or the other. I am often considered a go-getter. People say all the time, “Wow how do you find the time, you always have so much on the go?“

The truth is I often find myself making lists or doing busy work but not actually doing the tasks I SHOULD be doing. I am a planner and an overthinker. To this extent, it forms a type of procrastination, not real work as such. Sure I can knuckle down and get loads of work done, but running my own business I have to.

Can a go-getter procrastinate? I think so, yes.

It boils down to the reason and the type of procrastination, I think.

Sometimes it’s just easier to do something more fun like hanging with friends or watching TV than doing boring household chores, taxes or even going to the gym or dentist. We know we should do those things but they are boring.

It’s our drive versus delay. Can we do ‘something’ later and not pay a penalty for it? Sometimes we delay for fear of avoiding the outcomes. It might be better for us in the long term but we worry about pain or embarrassment.

How to stop being a procrastinator?

  • Set small but specific and achievable goals — and set an end date/time
  • Identify the type and reason for the procrastination — knowing why can help you overcome it
  • Create an anti-procrastination plan — or give yourself tangible rewards for completing your tasks

I don’t claim to have all the answers but perhaps you might have found this article helpful.

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Jabeen Panchaya
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