- Ali Schiller and Marissa Boisvert are the co-owners of Accountability Works, where they coach professionals on accomplishing their goals without sacrificing their health.
- They say that there are four main types of avoidance archetypes, or procrastinators: the performer, the self-deprecator, the overbooker, and the novelty seeker.
- Figuring out which group you’re in can help you break out of your procrastination patterns — and maybe even turn in something early.
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As accountability coaches, we work with highly-driven, accomplished entrepreneurs.
Just in case you have any doubt, highly-driven, accomplished people procrastinate, too. We’ve heard every excuse under the sun. Procrastination is a habit, and if you understand how it shows up for you, you can replace it with a better one.
Here are two clients’ examples:
Brian called in to his weekly accountability call one morning exhausted and disappointed. He had gotten everything he committed to done. But he’d stayed up all night to do it. Although this habit worked well when he was single and doing contract work on his own schedule, now as a successful consultant, husband, and father, he was ready to make a change.
Our client Melinda is at the top of her game: accomplished, polished, and the CEO of a successful marketing company. While she would never claim the title of procrastinator, she had shiny object syndrome and couldn’t finish a project without starting a new one.
How can highly-driven and accomplished people still be such procrastinators?
Let’s be real: We can all fall into this trap. As accountability coaches we’ve learned that what works for Brian doesn’t necessarily work for Melinda.
In our experience, everyone has a favorite avoidance archetype. The key to defeating delay is figuring out which group you fall into so you can break out of your holding pattern and get the project done early, for once.
Here’s a breakdown of the procrastination personality types and how to retrain your brain to finally get any dreaded task done.
1. The performer who says, “I work well under pressure”
This procrastinator forces themselves to focus by shrinking the time they have to tackle a task. For many of our clients, the real reason behind this is perfectionism. If you’re tight on time, there’s no way the task can be done to your unreasonably high standards anyway, right? For others, the issue is simply falling back into old patterns and beliefs that we have about our 11th-hour saves. No matter what, being in the habit of putting pressure on yourself is not sustainable.
Your biggest challenge: Getting started.
Your solution: Flip the script and set a start date. When you focus on when you’re going to begin a task — and not when you hope to end it — you’ll take a tremendous amount of pressure off of yourself.
2. The self-deprecator who says, “I am so lazy right now”
This procrastinator is the opposite of lazy, so when they don’t do something they are extra hard on themselves. We see this a lot with our male clients. They tend to blame inaction on laziness or stubbornness rather than admit they are tired. What they really need is to be more compassionate with themselves.
Your biggest challenge: Taking a break. We already know you are going to say you don’t have time to rest.
Your solution: Recharge. Try taking a walk to give yourself space and to begin to rebuild your energy.
3. The overbooker who says, “I’m so busy”
This procrastinator is a pro at filling up their calendar and is often overwhelmed. “I’m so busy” is probably the excuse we hear most often. Interestingly, some of the busiest people we work with get the most done. When busy-ness comes up as an excuse for not doing something, it’s usually an indication of avoidance. Rather than facing a challenge head on or admitting they don’t want to do something, it’s easier to place the blame on having other important things to do.
Your biggest challenge: Creating chaos to avoid facing what you know you need to face right now (typically this is not a task).
Your solution: Take a moment of introspection. Ask yourself: What am I really avoiding?
4. The novelty seeker who says, “I just had the best idea!”
This procrastinator has a terminal case of Shiny Object Syndrome. They’re constantly coming up with new projects to take on — and then getting bored with them a week later. They’re intrigued by the latest trend and will be quick to implement but not follow through.
They are great at making decisions and taking action. However, they end up inadvertently losing a lot of time and burning out because they don’t take consistent action in one direction long enough to see results. Many of our entrepreneurial clients fit into this category.
Your biggest challenge: Completion.
Your solution: Make it stick. Literally. Write down new ideas or projects on a sticky note — but don’t pursue them until you finish what you are currently working on.
Ali Schiller and Marissa Boisvert are the co-owners of Accountability Works®, a mindfulness-based coaching company that helps highly-driven professionals accomplish their goals without sacrificing their health. Using their five-step process, they have provided the structure their clients need to do everything from tripling their income, getting into a top tier MBA program, losing 100 lbs — and so much more. You can download their Map It! 1-Page Plan to help you organize and achieve your goals.