ANALYSIS OF A PROCRASTINATOR

In my last post, I discussed my procrastination and perfectionism tendencies especially related to blogging. I promised to take a quiz about procrastination I found on Psychology Today’s website. As it’s a magazine style quiz rather than an internet quiz, I decided to “live blog” taking the quiz, grading myself and scoring my answers as I go along rather than simply publishing the results. It’ll be fun!

The scoring on the twenty questions is as follows: A three point scale, zero for not me, one for somewhat like me and two for like me. I’ll note the meaning of the score on each question and tally the numbers at the end. I’ve yet to ponder the questions though I did read a few while formatting what I copy and pasted from the original site, so like I said, it’ll be live. By all means, play along at home.

Oh boy!

1. Procrastination comes naturally to me. Like me. I waited every school project I ever did until the last possible minute.

2. I have responsibilities that I’m not doing. Somewhat like me. I do what I have to do. I’ve always been good at fulfilling responsibilities at least to the point of good enough to keep me in a job. I keep dishes done and laundry even if things are messy and cluttered. It’s sometimes bare bones minimum and sometimes at the last possible second, so I couldn’t say not like me.

3. I have plans that stay on the drawing board. Like me. If there was a four point option for exactly like me, I’d take it. I have all kinds of plans. Take one example, OgleFood, my food blog which I have owned for, I believe, four years. I still love the name and the idea. Frankly, food and cooking websites do well for themselves. At one time I dreamed of a (modest) blogging empire for fun and profit. It is one dream I haven’t entirely given up on hence the domain renewals and my utter refusal to blog on a free site. I will be empress of my blogs, dang it! They will dance for me!

4. I sidestep uncomfortable priorities. Like me. Doesn’t everyone do this? No? Oh…
5. I tell myself that later is the time to begin. Like me. Sort of the heart of the problem, isn’t it? Years ago in therapy, I learned a sneaky way around which sometimes works. I essentially make a deal with myself to continue my procrastination technique until a set time then I must do whatever it is I need to do. For example, I can finish watching the show I’m watching then I must get up and load the dishwasher. It’s like a pre-reward in a very positive self talk kind of way. Mixed results over the years, but better than nothing.

6. I start things that I don’t finish. Like me. Like washing and drying laundry then failing to put it away? Half done craft projects and blog posts waiting in draft? Never.
7. I have a habit of showing up late. Not me. Finally, I can answer no thanks to being raised by two chronically early, on-time-is-late thinkers.
8. I delay acting to meet a deadline. Like me. I file my taxes on April 14th and sign up for benefits on the last possible date.
9. I find ways to extend deadlines. Like me. My life doesn’t include many extendable deadlines beyond the self-imposed. Those, I have trouble not sliding back.
10. I come up with excuses to explain delays.Like me. Even if the excuse is just too tired so I slept, in some cases.
11. I put off hard decisions.Like me. I am thirty-one years old and I haven’t decided what I want to be when I grow up.
12. When I’m not sure, I’ll avoid the situation.Like me. Especially if what I’m not sure of involves potential conflict.
13. I put off making a needed lifestyle change.Like me. I spent the entire decade of my twenties putting off eating healthy and trying to loose weight.
14. My pessimism causes delays.Like me. One example: Nobody is going to read my posts anyway, so why bother?
15. My emotions affect what I do. Like me. I have gotten better, but still fight anxiety when things go wrong.
16. My intimate relationship is going nowhere.Not me. Chris is the best boyfriend ever and our relationship is ridiculously awesome. No one is perfect and expecting someone to be is unfair, but we complement each other perfectly. Wanting the same things makes it pretty easy to stay on track as far as the “going somewhere” part.

17. I avoid what frustrates me. Like me. It is a fine line between managing anxiety and ignoring the things which make me anxious.
18. I get side-tracked by conflicts. Not me. I often say, I would rather walk out in front of a moving bus than get in a confrontation. Conflict is one thing I avoid, sometimes to the point of causing it’s own problems.
19. My doubts and fears inhibit my actions. Like me. It’s a vicious cycle of putting things of because I doubt myself, loosing out on the experience and possibility of success, making me feel more doubt about my abilities.
20. When I feel anxious, I’ll avoid what I fear. Like me. At worst, I’m paralyzed by anxiety. Most of the time, I push through and do what I’ve got to do.
The results: 33 of 40 possible points. Obviously, I knew going in I had a problem. I do suspect I graded myself harshly, both an admittance of my perfectionism tendencies and wanting to acknowledge where I struggle in hopes of changing what isn’t working.
The interpretation of the data available in the article is a little loose for my taste. It says “items one to 10 suggest procrastination tendencies. Items 11-20 point to more specific procrastination hotspots.” They recommend retaking the test every two months to see where I stand. I, knowing me, may or may not do so no matter what my intention. I can always revisit this post which helps.

So what did I learn?
I put off situations with emotional consequences more often than simple tedious tasks. So, the day to day responsibilities get attention more readily than big decisions and projects. At least in my mind, it rules out “lazy” as the real problem rather than procrastination. It’s a better fault, I guess, since lazy is hard to fix. I most often avoid things that make me anxious, trading the big gulp of fear at facing the task for the under current of worry at a task left undone. I (almost) always find, no matter how unpleasant the task is less stress done than left undone. Knowing my procrastination is closely tied to anxiety is an advantage in combating both.

Will I improve myself as a result of thinking and blogging about procrastination?
It’s hard to say. I do have a track record of using blogging – and before that journaling – as a self improvement tool. For me, I almost always have to write out the problem before I can do anything about it. I don’t really understand the issue or see the solution without this step. I swear sometimes my fingers know more than I do when I start typing.

Since one of my goals in overcoming procrastination is to be a more consistent blogger, I’ve already had a little success. Such success often builds confidence in my abilities and furthers my resolve. I’ll be around and might just build that blogging empire after all.

Author: Tina Louise

Nerd. Geek. Dork.

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