How to Deal with a Difficult or Procrastinator Personality

Dr. Deborah Bauers's image for:
"How to Deal with a Difficult or Procrastinator Personality"
Image by: 

An adult procrastinator is a difficult personality type who seems to adhere to the philosophy, “never do today what you can put off until tomorrow.”  His indecisiveness and inability to commit in a timely manner frustrates and even angers those who live in community with him.  He cannot be depended upon to follow through with what he says he will do and when confronted, too quickly dismisses his ineptness with a casual, “I forgot.”

A procrastinator frequently struggles with at least one of two significant fears that keep him immobilized.  He is either frightened that the choices he makes might end up being the wrong ones, or that when he chooses he will be forced to relinquish power.  Prolonging his choices allows him to avoid failure and/or retain the illusion of being in control.

Other procrastinators lack time management skills and, when under pressure, feel overwhelmed.  Not knowing how to tackle the enormity of what is looming, they become emotionally immobilized.

If you have a procrastinator in your life you may find yourself, cajoling, reminding, and even badgering him to follow through with the intentions that he expresses in a moment of amiability will good, but ultimately failed, intentions.  If he is  a workmate, perhaps you pull his weight too frequently, making him look good in the end because you cover for him.  If he isa  spouse, there’s a good chance that you may even enable him to continue procrastinating because you end up doing the things that he has promised to do, just to get them done. So how should you handle the procrastinators in your life?

1. If he’s a workmate, stop bailing him out and let him deal with the consequences of his procrastination.  This may force him to confront the reasons why he persists in putting things off.

2. If you live with a spouse who’s a procrastinator, offer encouragement and let your genuine praise, when he comes through, be a new motivator that will get him on track in other areas in his life.

3.  Remember that some individuals procrastinate to avoid losing control.  If you are frequently gridlocked in a power struggle with a spouse or significant other over tasks that aren’t being done, back away and stop using verbal force to gain compliance.  Some procrastinators follow through much better with less negative reinforcement and more positive affirmation.

4. For the employee in your life who continuously procrastinates, try asking questions, like these,  that will help to uncover the motivation for putting things off.

“If you continue to put off getting this project done, how will this empower you?”

 “Is the feeling that you get from procrastinating a good one? “

 “What small step could you take toward ending your fear of failure?

“What baby steps could you take that would end your procrastination?”

4. Children who procrastinate can be helped to break overwhelming projects down into smaller, doable pieces.  Teaching a child to tackle big projects first is a good way to help him learn to be motivated by his sense of accomplishment. Giving him a time limit with a potential reward for completion helps to reinforce positive behaviors and prevent his becoming an adult procrastinator.

Some procrastinators have deeply seated issues and need professional help to address feelings of inferiority and fear of failure and to learn how to manage their time the most effectively. A combined strategy of cognitive and behavioral therapy is the best hope available for those who believe that they will feel more productive “tomorrow,” because without therapy, tomorrow may, unfortunately,  never come.

More about this author: Dr. Deborah Bauers

From Around the Web

  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrow