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Pro-Actively Manage & Encourage a Procrastinator

These 4 Ways Can Help Pro-Actively Manage & Encourage a Procrastinator

You might not be a chronic procrastinator (studies have shown that 20% of American fall into that category) but we all have a little bit of procrastination in us. Maybe you struggle with time management or you become easily distracted.  Maybe you take on a big project and don’t realize that the best way to tackle a monster is to divide it up into manageable chucks.

In his article, Managing the Procrastinator, Steve Marr identifies four groups of procrastinators. Which one do you fit in:

  1. The Lazy: These people don’t like to work very hard and will struggle with hitting their deadlines.

How you can help:  This type of procrastinator responds best when deadlines are clearly set and consequences of missing such are firmly established. Coach them and help them improve. If you don’t see any progress, help them to leave your organization.

  1. The 11th Hour Scrambler:  The Scrambler often overestimates his own ability to complete a goal and thus doesn’t give himself enough time to finish it. They might finish the work but the quality is not at the desired level because they had to rush to finish on time.   The Scramblers are not necessarily lazy; rather they are shortsighted and too focused on short-term wins and thereby jeopardizing long-term successes.

How you can help:  Allow them to propose the plan and timetable for the project they need to complete.  Give them your input on their plan and make corrections if necessary. Have them add the milestones and agree with you on the dates of the deliverables. Monitor, monitor, monitor. Praise them when they hit their targets on time.

  1. The Easily-Sidetracked: You might know a colleague who is always bouncing from one issue to another and has a difficult time finishing a project.  They are focused on the urgent rather than the important.  They are constantly putting out fires and are distracted by unexpected emergencies.

How you can help:  It’s all about focus.  Help them prioritize the things that need their attention. Less is more.  If possible, let them work on one project, complete it and then move on to the next one. Set up deliverables along with their due dates. Hold them accountable.

  1. The Perfectionist: The Perfectionist puts things off because he believes that his work is never good enough.  They are not going for 100% but rather 150%, when 80% might really be enough.  Their biggest problem is fear:  “Maybe I’ll make a mistake. What will they think of me then?â€

How you can help:  Be very clear with the Perfectionist on what your expectations are regarding the quality of their work. They should work towards these standards, not to perfectionism.  Encourage them to express their feelings, especially those of anxiety.

Here are a few things that I do to get a grip on my own procrastination:

  • Turn off my cell phone during those times when I need to concentrate and work on a project.
  • Close down e-mails.
  • Set an alarm clock, usually for 60 minutes. Work until it rings. Then take a 5-minute break and set the alarm for another 60 minutes.
  • Use earplugs: block out any type of noise.
  • Break projects down into individual tasks.
  • Work on hard tasks in the morning, from 7:30 to 10:30 am.
  • Put it on my calendar and work backwards from the due date.
  • Get someone to hold me accountable to the goal I’ve set.
  • Reward myself for a job well done.
  • Skip lunch and have some nuts or a power bar instead.


Steve Marr: Managing the Procrastinator