Team players: Motivating different types of procrastinators

Do you know your team's type?

According to Dr. Joseph Ferrari, author of Still Procrastinating? The No-Regrets Guide to Getting it Done –knowing procrastination types can be crucial to unlocking greater productivity.

Dr. Ferrari divides procrastinators into three types: the thrill-seeker, the avoider, and the indecisive.

The reasons why they procrastinate differ, and so do the techniques required to motivate them.

Knowing the procrastination type of your colleagues and workmates can be highly valuable when assigning work and developing projects.

So what types of procrastinators do you have on your team, and how can you make the best of their strengths and weaknesses?


How to motivate ‘The Avoider’

‘The Avoider’ often says: “I put off finishing things.”

Fear lies at the heart of this procrastination type.

Dr. Ferrari suggests avoiders are afraid of both falling short of present expectations and failing to live up to past successes.

Deadlines make avoiders nervous: as they approach the end of a project, their judgement day awaits.

Where possible, ask avoiders to focus on kicking off projects, not wrapping them up.

Their trouble lies not in the doing, but in getting it done.

Having the reassurance that their work will go through further review and refinement can keep them focused in the present and not worrying about future outcomes.

Unfinished Puzzle

‘Avoidance’ procrastinators struggle to finish tasks they start.

How to motivate the indecisive worker

The indecisive worker often says: “I can’t let go of my work.”

Indecisive procrastinators are perfectionists.

They get so caught up in making something ‘perfect’ that they have trouble putting down their tools.

For indecisives, the old saying applies: perfect is the enemy of good.

Indecisives need clear priorities. Give them finite targets and definite requirements.

Identify what’s absolutely necessary and what might only be a bonus or a nice addition.

Given the luxury of a distant deadline, however, perfectionists can be quite valuable as critics, seeking out weak points and finding room for improvement.

correcting work

Indecisive procrastinators seek perfection in their work.

How to motivate ‘The Thrill-Seeker’

Thrill seekers often say: “I like to wait before I begin.”

You definitely know this type of procrastinator: someone who starts tasks at the eleventh hour and claims to work best under pressure.

That isn’t necessarily the case. In reality, thrill-seekers enjoy the adrenalin rush of working against a deadline.

Channel this impulse in a positive manner by dividing projects into a series of tasks, each with its own deadline.

Where possible, offer time-sensitive tasks that involve rapid responses instead of tasks that require steady patience and prolonged concentration.

And let them be the ones to hit ‘submit’ – after all, the final countdown is the thrill they like best.

starting work projects late

Thrill-seeking procrastinators wait until the 11th hour to start work