The English word “Procrastination” comes from the Latin word “pro crastinus” which means “for tomorrow.” When we procrastinate, we delay and put off what we should be doing now and believe we will do the task tomorrow. Of course, when tomorrow comes, we again push the task off for another day. In this manner, important activities that we must do are postponed and often never accomplished.

The terrible effects of procrastination are many. Some examples are poor grades at school because of a lack of studying, financial problems related to putting off required activities such as saving or an analysis of one’s portfolio, and bad health due to putting off exercise.

Why do we procrastinate? At one level, in our minds, we know that certain tasks are essential and need to be completed. Yet something seems to prevent us from starting and doing what is necessary. Why do we act in such an irresponsible manner?

Four Types of Procrastinators

Ali Schiller and Marissa Boisvert coach business people to overcome procrastination. They categorize procrastinators as being one of four types.

1. The performer 

Such people believe that they only work when under immense time pressure. They put off key activities until the very last moment. They believe that they are so clever that they can “work under pressure and get things done even with very little time left.” In reality, the work is often only half done, and not enough time is spent doing a great job.  Schiller and Boisvert advise such people to just make a start. Even if they are to start doing the required activity for just 5 minutes – they should start – and soon they find they are engrossed in work, and the result is a superior output.

2. The self-deprecator 

Such people have a low level of self-esteem. They blame their inactivity on their laziness. For such people Schiller and Boisvert suggest they should be less harsh on themselves. They suggest taking a break and re-charging mental batteries before attacking with energy the work to be done.

3. The overbooker 

This type of person keeps saying – “Oh, I am so busy doing other things.” These people fill up their days with tasks that are easier and less important and leave the main activities aside. “Busy-ness” becomes an excuse for inaction. The suggestion for such people is to pause and introspect. These people need to look inwards and ask themselves – “Why am I avoiding doing the most important work now?”

4. The novelty seeker 

Such people are always chasing after something new. They allow themselves to become distracted by a novelty item. Then when the novelty ends, they jump on the next new thing. These people are full of action, but fundamental issues are left unaddressed. The advice for such people is to complete a task thoroughly, to not do a new thing until the previous task is completely solved.

The secret of success

Alexander Graham Bell, the great inventor who created the telephone, wrote, “The only difference between success and failure is the ability to take action.”   

© Kaikhushru Taraporevala