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Unas Spotlight: Procrastination, whatever your profile…

On a webinar I ran last week one of the attendees asked a great question, “My biggest issue is what Seth Godin calls the lizard brain… I’m the chief procrastinator. How do you get over that?”

I answered at the time with these three main reasons why people may procrastinate:

1. An inner knowing that it isn’t the right time to do that.
2. Self-sabotage due to emotional baggage of some sort around things like ‘not deserving’ and/or ‘fear of success/failure’ (all way more common than you think by the way!). Be aware that this can fool people into thinking that it’s not the right time.
3. The activity is something that’s not your natural strength and so you don’t enjoy it and it takes you out of your flow.

While I believe these three points apply to many, afterwards I started thinking about the third point and how procrastination might differ around the Talent Dynamics Square.

With the highly creative Dynamo energy profiles (Creator, Mechanic and Star), their problem is usually not starting things but finishing them! In fact, because they tend to underestimate how long things take to do, they have a tendency to over-commit and just not have enough time to get something done.

Of course those with high Dynamo energy also can get easily distracted by doing the ‘new and fun’ stuff, so that they move from activity to activity without really getting much done. Even though they hate having their freedom constrained, working to a plan – even if a loose one – and learning to delegate will help them spend more time in their flow in the end. When Dynamos get focused on their priorities they can achieve great things.

Those with high Blaze energy (Supporter, Star and Deal Maker) love variety and hate paperwork – they’d much rather be having an interesting conversation with one of their many friends!

A great idea for them to overcome procrastination is to set aside time early in the week and/or early in the day to get this done while their energy is strong. Leaving it until the end of the week is not a good idea as they’re much more likely to want to go to a party or networking event instead.

The more grounded Tempo energy folks (Trader, Deal Maker and Accumulator) are actually very good with planning their activities and anticipating how long things will take, in fact they are likely to overestimate how long things will take. Where they may procrastinate is at the beginning of a new project.

For a start it is new and it’s not always so easy for them to get something off the ground as those with primary Creator and Star profiles. What really helps here is firstly to ensure that they understand the context within which the project or activity is taking place. That helps those with high Tempo energy to feel more comfortable and this comfort is important for them to work well.

Secondly, breaking up a big idea or project down into the specific tasks and deadlines before they start helps them to see in enough detail what needs to be done and they can satisfy themselves that it is achievable. Just be careful they don’t get too bogged down in the detail to even begin.

Finally what about those with high Steel (Lord, Accumulator and Mechanic profiles) energy? Well they really shine when they have something already existing to work with so starting something new can be even more challenging than for Tempo profiles!

Here though, what will probably help the most in overcoming procrastination is to focus on what they can get finished first and get those activities out of the way and out of sight – they love a clear workspace! Because getting things finished feels so good to those with strong Steel energy this motivates them to keep going. Breaking down larger projects into very small chunks that can be ticked off a list helps to avoid overwhelm too.Of course, everyone can step into the Spirit energy to remind them of the purpose of what they are doing. What is the big ‘Why?’ that makes doing something worthwhile in the first place?

This really helps for those times that you might just need to suck it up and get something done.

Remember though, where possible, let others do the things that take you out of flow. After all, it’s only by helping someone else get into their flow can you really get in yours…


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