Dealing with a procrastinator is easier said than done. They’re masters of putting off work or waiting till the last minute to get anything done. It also doesn’t help that some of the most famous intellectuals in the world were procrastinators, including Charles Darwin, Leonardo Da Vinci and Edgar Allan Poe.
Plus, procrastinators are more than happy to just go with the flow. They’re not the ones that are getting negatively affected by their actions.
It’s the people who are with them, whether in a relationship, in the family or even in a professional environment as part of a team who have to deal with it. It’s not fun to be with someone that you cannot trust to get the work done on time.
Often, cajoling, teasing or pointing out the behavior might also not give you the desired result you had in mind. Learning and improving how you are dealing with a procrastinator can make a marked difference here.
You’ll be able to boost their productivity and also transform the nature of your relationship.
In this case, the following are some helpful and effective tips that you can apply when dealing with a procrastinator.
1. Avoid Being Critical
You might start out by thinking you’re doing them a favor but being critical of someone can be a tough road. If you’re constantly criticizing them, your family member, spouse or your friend can start to resent you just as much as you’re doing. It can also begin to negatively impact the relationship.
Generally procrastinators like calm, no-pressure environments where they’re the ones in control. If you’re constantly nagging them about how to do something, they will shut down and stop doing it. They can be pretty stubborn as well so it is better to avoid criticizing them.
Instead, try to give suggestions as needed and in a helpful manner. If you think their work can be done faster with your help, offer it but don’t make them work faster. It can result in an argument and they’re more likely to put off the work then.
2. Try to Be Understanding
All actions have a hidden motive behind them and that is the case with procrastinators as well. There is an underlying reason for their procrastination habits and they’re usually trying to put off the inevitable. There’s a common misconception that most procrastinators like to put off work because they are lazy or they have poor time management skills.
That’s the wrong approach to take when dealing with a procrastinator and is likely to make them feel alienated. Instead, try to find the true motive behind their procrastination. The following are the major reasons:
- Some people actually enjoy the rush of the deadline and do their best thinking when they’re cornered.
- Others are sometimes undecided about two choices and let the lack of time make up their minds for the feasible option.
- For some, it can be fear of failure or anxiety that hampers their progress and makes them put off the work for as long as possible.
It’s a good idea to discuss what’s wrong and try to get to the source of the procrastination. It will help you understand the major issue. You’ll also be able to make progress by dealing with a procrastinator in a positive manner.
3. Learn to Work Around Them
Sometimes, you might be at the end of the rope and just can’t deal with them anymore. Things can get really stressful for others who are working on the same project with a procrastinator on the team. In this case, you can plan ahead of the procrastination and have a backup plan ready.
This can be the plan that you use when you’re dealing with a procrastinator who is known to not be moved by anything. When you ask them for something, keep a mental check of the longest time you can wait. If the time limit is reached and they haven’t done the work, it’s time to activate Plan B.
Now, just call someone else to help you or do the work yourself. If you’re asked why you didn’t wait, just let them know that you were doing it out of respect for their busy schedule. It will also show the procrastinator that work can be completed without their help too.
4. Developing Plans Together
It’s a good idea to start planning the work with the procrastinator so that they’re aware of the tasks that they need to finish. Many times, procrastinators feel like they’re overburdened or are stressed because they feel that they have so much work to do.
With you on board, they can feel a bit more relaxed and be able to tackle the work that is assigned to them. It’s not just about sharing the workload either. You can ask your friend if they want to develop a plan to avoid procrastination.
Work with them to help them overcome major challenges and give them control over their time. A small reward based system can also work wonders in adding a touch of motivation for one to change their procrastinating ways. Try it out and see if it improves their output and your work plans too.
5. Keep the Deadlines Short
Mark Twain famously said, “Do not put off until tomorrow what can be put off till the day-after-tomorrow just as well.” It seems like all the procrastinators took this phrase to heart because it’s something they can and will do. Even at the workplace, they can procrastinate especially, if the project has a flexible or long deadline.
So, when dealing with a procrastinator, try to make sure that you’re giving them deadlines that are short and non-flexible. When dealing with such deadlines, there’s no room for procrastination. If the task is a long term one, try to break it down into smaller actions that have their own deadlines.
Then, the procrastinator will have to make sure to meet these deadlines and consequently, finish the project on time. There’s going to be little room to procrastinate here. You’ll see that it also improves productivity and project management.
6. Practice Some Time Management
Procrastinators can sometimes be very bad time managers too. They’re unable to properly account for just how much time a certain task might take them. In this case, they need some help by improving their time management skills, in and out of the workplace.
A useful tool here is the Pomodoro time management technique. It’s simple, easy and you can apply it to almost any area of your life. Plus, it has a small break and reward system incorporated which can allow one to be as productive as possible.
When dealing with a procrastinator, this can be the most helpful way to help them boost their time management skills. It can also positively improve their work output and generally reduce procrastination in them.
7. Avoid Piling the Work
Most procrastinators are often given a lot of work to do. This is because when they finally do start working, they’re giving everything 100% of their undivided attention. You’re going to be tempted to pile work on them continuously.
On the other hand, this also feeds into their procrastination habit. They’re either anxious about all the work, or they’re waiting to feel the time window shrinking until they start writing. Despite their output, it’s the wrong method to apply when dealing with a procrastinator.
Instead of just piling work on, help the person out by giving their projects a sequential order. Even marking things by priority will simplify their work and reduce some of the anxiety they’re feeling. If you’re dumping everything and expecting them to work rationally, it can backfire. They might put off an important project for tomorrow.
8. Start Cutting Out Distractions
Distractions for procrastinators are irresistible and they’re all around them. From the TV to the tablet and even the smartphone, you can stream or watch anything. For procrastinators, this is the ultimate distraction tool.
They’re unable to focus and it’s very tempting to think, “I’ll work after one more episode.” Instead, you should try to give them an environment where they can be as productive as possible. Turn off the TV, cancel any breaks or any treats so that the focus is solely on the work.
When dealing with a procrastinator, this should be slowly incorporated because you don’t want them to start resenting you. A good idea would also be to start using these distractions as rewards. This can give them the motivation to stop procrastinating and getting the work done so that they’re able to watch their favorite TV shows.
9. Accountability and Structure
If given a chance, procrastinators can be pretty sneaky in finding that little loophole that lets them to procrastinate as much as possible. It is a good idea to start enforcing structure in the working methodology and measure out the steps that they must take. It can seem tedious but it also introduces a bit of accountability into the work as well.
Additionally, many procrastinators are not really held accountable. They’re not worried about not getting the work done because, there are no consequences. To truly make them accountable, you have to show that their procrastination does get them in trouble, especially if they’re messing up the project in some manner.
Accountability and structure will both make procrastination a bigger chore. It will be much easier for them to just stop procrastinating and start working according to the work outline that’s been shared. It can take some time but once procrastinators understand that you’re just trying to help, they won’t try to fight the system as much.
10. Maximize their Strengths
Sometimes, procrastinators start to put off work because they are bored with the work. It can get monotonous to work on the same thing, day in and day out. This can be seen as a small form of protest and a hope that the next day will bring something new to work on.
Additionally, sometimes, the opposite has happened. The work given can be so complex that the procrastinator might be scared to tackle the issue at hand. In this case, they will try to put off the work as much as possible, until they must do it.
In both scenarios, try to match projects to the person according to their strengths. If you’re dealing with a procrastinator who is bored, give them projects that challenge them. If you are working with someone who is scared or overwhelmed, help them out by giving them easier projects to work on.
11. Make Asking for Help Easy
Procrastinators can often feel like they’re working on things alone or they’re overwhelmed by the project or don’t know how to tackle it. In this case, you should have open channels of communication with them, to allow them to ask for help with ease. You want to make sure that they’re given all the help they need.
If they’re procrastinating because they’re unsure, talking about it will make it easier for them to get the help required to finish it successfully. Plus, remember, you shouldn’t criticize them if they ask for help. For procrastinators, it can actually take some time to realize that they do need help.
For this reason, you should try and make sure that they’re getting all the help they need and want. Plus, once you start dealing with a procrastinator in a positive manner, you will see that they’re actually very productive individuals. There’s a reason why the most famous procrastinators were the most famously intellectual people of all time after all!
With the help of these tips, you can make the process of dealing with a procrastinator easier and also more productive for everyone involved.