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Five Uncommon Perspectives on Procrastination

Understand your own approach to getting things done

Some local guys I know play in an indoor five-a-side soccer league staged at a nearby gym.

They seem to have a lot of fun and don't take their participation too seriously. For example, this season so far they have only suffered three broken bones between them.

Although they have a lot in common as far as sports are concerned, in other ways they are very different. These differences are reflected both when they are in the gym playing their five-a-side games and outside of that sports arena.

For example, they all differ in their approach to getting things done...

Darrell is the creative playmaker

He often delays doing things until the last minute because he likes as much time as possible to think through his options and weigh the alternatives.

On the five-a-side court he often waits until the very last moment to make a decisive pass. He is patient. "You can't rush creativity," he says. "I'd rather delay doing something until I know that I have given myself a chance to fully consider my actions. People can wait," says Darrell.

Jack is another procrastinator

He needs the stimulation of a deadline to get his brain in gear. The nearer Jack gets to the deadline the more stimulated he is.

"All good work is inspired by emotion, and the extra pressure of the looming deadline helps stimulate my brain," Jack freely admits. An approaching deadline means better focus resulting in better work.

"I'm useless in training," says Jack. "I need the stimulation of a real game to play my best. I also can get bored if the game we're playing is too one-sided. I need a challenge."

Bill the goalkeeper is different

Bill doesn't share the views of his two teammates, Darrell and Jack. His thoughtfulness and preciseness are uncommon. He's always the first to practice, actually, the first to everything.

He has a very specific pre-game routine and starts to get frustrated if he can't start it on time. He likes to consider all his options in advance. This goalie is all angles. He thinks of procrastination as indecision, doubt and weakness.

"In a game I can't be thinking too much about when to come out of my goal. I have to make a quick decision and once I have, I commit to it," says Bill, who has a reputation for racing out of his goal to make timely tackles and interceptions.

"You can give all the reasons you want, but in the end putting off doing stuff is just avoiding the issue. Just deal with it," Bill says.

Mac is the team's striker - a free spirit

He has scored some outrageous goals with some outside-the-box shots. As a self-employed writer, his lifestyle is much less structured than the others.

He freely admits that he loses track of days of the week, and his teammates have taken to calling him on game days to remind him that, indeed, he has a game to play today. His procrastination is more to do with absent-mindedness than conscious delay.

"I admit it," Mac says, "I have Calendar Confusion Syndrome."

Sam is an enigma

He's a great player -- when he has the energy. Then, he is all over the gym, making tackles, chasing down every ball and being an inspiration to his team mates.

When he is high energy his team mates call him 'Swirling Sam.' Sometimes, however, Sam doesn't have that level of energy and he looks almost lethargic. Those are the games his team are more likely to lose. Sam is like that off the court, too.

"There are days when I'm full of energy and I get a ton of stuff done. But there are also days when I feel so drained that I can barely think about what I have to do, let alone tackle it," he says.

How can this team help you stop procrastinating?

These guys make a good team. Their individual differences reflect how they each tackle life. They have a common goal but different ways of achieving it and you couldn't convince any of them that their way doesn't work.

Think about these five different approaches. Do you flit between them or favour one approach more than another? They can all be useful or destructive depending on context.

Sometimes procrastination is just you harnessing your creativity before you make a start, sometimes it's cowardice in the guise of 'wanting to be sure'. Knowing your different types of procrastination can be the first step to living more successfully.

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Published by Mark Tyrrell - in Personal Productivity