Procrastination: An Equal Opportunity Trait
A key element of time management relates to procrastination—putting off until tomorrow the things you could do today. Everyone procrastinates. Sometimes we get the impression that it’s the Perceivers who are most guilty—with their laid-back, flexible approach to life and their tendency to be late for deadlines, etc. Not so. There are ways and times when all types put off tasks.
The Eight Types
Extraverts procrastinate when something needs to be done that requires privacy and time for reflection. An extraverted student may find it difficult to study a sociology assignment, which requires thoughtful perusal of the course text and time alone to study. They may also put off preparation of documents that require careful thought. They’d rather meet friends and postpone the assignment.
Since Introverts dislike group activities—particularly speaking before a group—they’ll do what they can to get out of it or put it off to the last possible minute. This is true of participation in group activities, too. They favor the company of only one or two friends and are reluctant to sign up for groups.
Intuitives put off tasks that require their Sensing trait. Sitting down to collect data and then assembling it in a report is the last thing they want to do. Yearly taxes are a good example. Sensing types dig in long before April 15, almost with pleasure. Intuitives dread the day they have to unravel all their expenses of the previous year.
When it’s time to think about the future, Sensors don’t indulge in fantasies about what “might be.” They are not at their best when it comes to long-term planning. They are here-and-now people. If a partner wants to reflect on all the possibilities for a winter vacation, the Sensor feels at a disadvantage. He or she would rather talk about their plans for the weekend.
Thinkers procrastinate when it comes to expressing themselves about personal issues. They’re slow to say, “I’m sorry,” even when they know they’ve hurt someone and are in the wrong. It’s much harder for a Thinker to say “I love you,” than it is for a Feeler. Many of them think that being “touchy-feely” is a sign of weakness, and that it’s better to be logical and neutral about everything.
Feelers are reluctant to get engrossed in tasks where there’s no one else to talk to or get feedback from. They also dislike conflict and will avoid or postpone it whenever possible. They want to be involved with people in positive ways, where everyone ends up with good feelings. Negative confrontations are extremely distasteful to them.
When a deadline looms or a decision must be made, Perceivers put off final actions as long as possible. In their opinion, there’s always more information to be collected and examined. Perceivers are often tardy for appointments. They avoid being stressed by clock time. Their attention wanders to other things and, as a result, they’re late.
When it comes time for fun and relaxation, Judgers procrastinate because they can always think of things that should be done before indulging in pleasure. Because Judgers may have an endless to-do list, many never get around to the reward of having fun alone or with others.
Solutions to Procrastination
Extraverts need to discipline themselves so they don’t routinely seek feedback about whatever has occurred to them. One way to do this is to schedule “work alone” periods, interspersed with scheduled breaks.
Introverts need to discipline themselves to do just the opposite—get outside their private sphere when it would be objectively useful. Even going to a public place like the library can be a challenge for the Introvert who prefers the solitude of his or her study.
Intuitives, with their future-oriented perspective, may come up short when it comes to estimating the amount of time needed to accomplish something in a given amount of time. If they are building a sandbox for a child’s birthday, for example, they may run into construction hang-ups that mean the job can’t be done on schedule. This needn’t be a cause for self-criticism. It’s simply one of those things that happen in life for no foreseeable reason.
Sensors need to see beyond clock time when they know that foresight or flexibility is needed. They tend to do well with minutes and seconds but fall short when a vision of the future is required. Sometimes they need to act when those around them affirm that the time is right, not when it’s on the Sensor’s schedule.
Thinkers have a tendency to set schedules or follow time lines that are compatible with their own needs, without considering the needs of others. Offending people is one problem with the Thinkers’ practice of basing decisions on objective outcomes rather than considering the impact on others.
Feelers must learn to say “no” without feeling guilty. They sometimes have trouble setting firm boundaries for themselves—instead focusing on the impact of their decisions on others. While Thinkers more readily impose themselves on others, Feelers more easily take on the responsibilities or consequences of decisions themselves, resulting in the feeling that they’re being taken advantage of.
Perceivers need to recognize their predisposition to procrastination, flitting from one project to another. Ironically, they often see this as a time-saving effort, juggling more than one project at a time. The result may be several projects left uncompleted. They would do better to limit themselves to one or two projects at a time.
Judgers naturally work well with schedules and deadlines. They risk reaching conclusions prematurely, however, resulting in a suboptimal outcome. They should be ready to listen to the ideas of their more-flexible counterparts, the Perceivers. When Judgers feel a strong need for a decision, such as buying a car, they’ll do well to listen to a Perceiver’s feedback about the details of the decision. They may uncover valuable information that they’d neglected.
Procrastination is an equal opportunity trait.