Do you know what you should be doing to make your business ‘world class,’ but you are not doing it? You may come up with a million reasons why you have yet to act, but actually, you’re putting it off. Procrastinating. Getting in your own way. Ah, we’ve all been there. Indeed 70% of North Americans report procrastinating from time to time, and 20% of us are chronic procrastinators – regularly and habitually putting things off for the utopian tomorrow.
If you haven’t taken action on an important task, project, or business growth strategy its only for one reason – and its not because you are lazy: It’s because you haven’t identified the specific “type” of procrastinator you are (or “types”). By identifying your “type,’ you can begin the find the right solution.
After working with hundreds of people in small businesses, I have identified 10 types of “Action Blockers.” You can see from reading the list that there are very different reasons that set you up to put things off, and the skills you would need to become an “Action Taker” vary accordingly (You can take the quiz to see what type of action blocker you are at www.sharonmelnick.com/actionquiz.)
10 Types of Procrastinators
– Avoider – You don’t ‘feel like doing it’; you think ‘tomorrow’ you’ll be more motivated. You’re great at making excuses why its ‘too complex, too boring, too ____”.
– Pressure Seeker – You are only motivated by last minute pressure and urgency of the deadline; you stay up late and create a crisis for all around you.
– Spinner – You are going in too many directions because you lack a clear strategy. You can’t decide on which marketing tactics or which target market or which networking events to focus on. You move quickly from one project onto the next ‘shiny new penny’.
– Protector – You hold yourself back to protect yourself from other’s perceptions of you, particularly their disapproval: “what if” I fail or others criticize? “What will the other person think of me?”
– Perfectionist – You keep redoing it to get all details right…for you it’s never at the point of ‘good enough’ to send.
– Learner – You are chronically in a state of information overload. You always think you need more research to know “enough” to get started.
– Dreamer – You have great ideas but are “all talk, no action”. You can’t break down your vision into the first step to get started.
– Prioritizer – You are good at putting efforts into ‘priorities’ of the moment but other ‘priorities’ are not tended to (e.g., you might do important projects at work but expense reports, marketing plans, health checkups, or garage cleaning are neglected)
– Distracted – You tend to be disorganized, prone to distraction; You can’t focus on any task for too long so you can’t think systematically. You remain unclear what the desired outcome is and can’t get started.
– Starter – You know how to get started, but don’t know how to finish.
Most conventional wisdom offers generic advice like: “start with the hardest task first thing in the morning”. But if you are an avoider, you know you “should” get started yet don’t know how to motivate yourself, or have the willpower to get it done. If you are a perfectionist, you have already been working on the hardest task first thing in the morning, and driving your team crazy doing it over and over again.
That’s why all the advice you’ve tried to follow may not have helped you make any more than small incremental changes, or why you may have started to make some changes but then fallen back to your old ways within days.
Knowing your type of action blocker will guide you to know the specific tweaks you need to make to become an action taker. For example, if you identify as a pressure seeker, then learn to create your own urgency, impose external deadlines or create a “start by” deadline instead of only a “finish by” deadline. If you are an avoider, know how to get yourself to ‘feel like doing it’ (even when you don’t), solve problems to overcome tasks being too complex or too boring, and figure out if there are other ways to get it done without you being the bottleneck.
If you are a spinner, become more strategic about your unique positioning and use it to determine your priorities, then discipline yourself to get results from one project before moving onto the next. If you are a perfectionist, then develop objectivity so you can determine when you have done ‘enough’ that your deliverable fulfills its intended purpose, and learn to put out a first draft and test the results (or get feedback) rather than waste a lot of time re-doing your work over and over.
No matter what your type, you want to become a better DJ of your own Mental iPod so you can change your inner soundtrack from self critical to self confident, and frazzled to focused.
Sharon Melnick, Ph.D. is a business psychologist and stress resilience expert who helps talented business owners land their biggest client ever within 3 months – all while experiencing less stress. She is the author of the recently released Success under Stress: Powerful Tools for Staying Calm, Confident, and Productive When the Pressure’s On. Discover more at www.sharonmelnick.com.
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