Updated: Apr 14
Procrastination is the act of unnecessarily postponing decisions or actions, and is defined as intentionally and habitually putting off the doing of something that needs to be done. We put off what we either don’t like doing, aren’t sure of how to do, don’t feel we have time to do or don’t feel we should have to do. For example, if someone has a week to finish an assignment, but they keep postponing it until right before the deadline, despite the fact that they intended to work on it earlier, that person is procrastinating.
Let’s face it: We all procrastinate. In fact, research conducted by psychologists and published by the American Psychological Association, state that between 20% and 30% of Americans are chronic procrastinators.
Research indicates that approximately 20% of the adult population and around 50% of the student population procrastinate in a consistent and problematic manner, meaning that they experience significant difficulties in their everyday life as a result of their procrastination.
People procrastinate in different ways and in different areas of life. The following are some common examples of procrastination:
Scrolling through social media at home, or at work instead of tackling important tasks that need your attention.
Repeatedly putting off a homework assignment until the night before it’s due.
Getting stranded on 'Someday Isle'. Promising yourself you are going to start a new positive habit, such as dieting, exercising, writing a book, or saving money, but repeatedly delaying it while telling yourself that you’ll start someday soon.
Wanting to start or create a business, but discovering that you are spending all of your time looking up inspirational material and unimportant information instead of actually setting something up.
Busy work. Getting completely lost in the planning and organization phase and never getting started on what actually needs to get done.
Why do people Procrastinate? Well, different personality color tendencies may procrastinate for different reasons. Let's take a look at the six color personality tendencies as described by the Primary Colors Relationship Personality Tests and Insight Tools, and compare them with personality scales of the Big 5 personality traits. The five broad personality traits described by this theory are extraversion (also often spelled extroversion), agreeableness, openness, conscientiousness, and neuroticism.
1. GREEN TENDENCIES: The project you need to undertake looks overwhelming. Okay, I get it. Large projects can feel intimidating, and people with green color personality tendencies love large undertakings. But we can get so involved in wondering how we are going to get done what we believe we need to do, that procrastination stalls us to a halt.
People with extreme green color personality tendencies can be low in Agreeableness, which is the tendency to care about others and work well with them, is a personality trait that is associated with procrastination in some cases, and specifically in situations where people who are low in agreeableness procrastinate as a form of rebellion against tasks or deadlines they believe to be unfair, or given to them by an authority figure that they resent or disrespect.
Solution: Remember how to eat an elephant. That’s right. One bite at a time. Instead of focusing on the total picture and time required to complete, narrowing a project down one bite size piece at a time can make them so much more manageable.
2. RED TENDENCIES: Some personalities are motivated by last minute stress! Some people put off starting a project because there is adrenaline rush that comes from the last minute stress. They don't want to admit it but they thrive under pressure and enjoy the intensity that comes with being under the gun.
People with strong red color personality tendencies are usually high in Sensation seeking is a personality trait that is associated with the tendency to procrastinate in some cases, and specifically in situations where people procrastinate in order to make tasks feel more challenging and exciting, usually by waiting until right before the deadline to get them done.
Solution: Play a game with yourself. Accelerate deadlines in your head so you believe that pieces of a project need to be done sooner than they actually do. By playing this game you can create the stress rush you are need.
3. PURPLE TENDENCIES: You are too busy planning what to do and getting organized to do it. Procrastination often occurs when people get lost in the preparation and planning stage. They get lost in what they think they need in order to do the job. My friend wanted to send out thank you notes but then she decided she needed to personalize and hand design each one of them. Next thing I know she is out buying glitter pens and the thank you notes did not even get started.
People with strong purple color personality tendencies are Conscientious, which is the tendency to be disciplined, achievement-oriented, hardworking, focused, and organized, is the personality trait that is most strongly associated with procrastination, and the more conscientious someone is, the less likely they are to procrastinate. But if you rate lower on the conscientious scale, procrastination could be one of your dearest friends.
Solution: Just get started. First set a time that you want the project to be completed by. Then make a list of everything you think you need in order to get it done. Once you begin, go to completion, even if you don't have the glitter pens you wanted.
4. ORANGE TENDENCIES: You get distracted. Some people procrastinate because they struggle to delay immediate gratification. When people say they have a hard time getting going on a project its because they often do not realize what specific things are serving as roadblocks. Using social media (like Facebook, LinkedIn or Pinterest can waste and eat up valuable time). The more socially oriented personality color tendencies like Orange and Yellow can get sidetracked liking and commenting on other people’s lives at the expense of getting some important things done in their own.
People with Orange Color Personality Tendencies can be Impulsive. They have a tendency to act without planning or without considering the consequences of one’s actions, is also strongly associated with procrastination, and the more impulsive someone is, the more likely they are to procrastinate.
Solution: Treat your need to interact as a treat. That’s right. Tell yourself if you get this and this and this done, you can take time to interact on social media. I know, you are not good with delayed gratification, however, with practice playing the reward game (you love rewards) you can get so much better at not having procrastination steal your joy.
5. YELLOW TENDENCIES: Fear of not doing it right. People with strong yellow personality color tendencies are people pleasers. They get very anxious about failing the expectations of others. Any time we take on any kind of undertaking there is no chance you will not succeed. But there is a 50 % chance of failure if you try and a 100% chance of failure if you do not try.
People with Yellow Color Personality Tendencies will be more likely to suffer from negative emotions such as anxiety and depression as a result of their procrastination. Furthermore, there are some specific situations where a person’s neuroticism could be one of the causes of their procrastination, such as when they are so anxious about making failing that they end up avoiding a necessary task.
Solution: See failure as an important step to success. Most great people believe they failed their way to success so be great. Recognize the incredible value of each failure and allow your failures to become badges of courage in your life.
6. BLUE TENDENCIES: Wanting to get it perfect. This is the biggest cause of procrastination for Blue color personalities who are perfectionists. They don’t feel something is finished until it is perfect and perfection doesn’t exist.
People with blue Color Personality Tendencies will be more likely to be perfectionists. Perfectionism has been associated highly with procrastination.
Solution: Realize that perfection does not exist and focus on your capacity for excellence instead. Excellence is goal that can be achieved each day. Work toward an excellent outcome instead of a perfect one.
Do You Procrastinate? Maybe answering the following questions will help you figure that out. Ask yourself, “How characteristic is this behavior for me?”. Answer intuitively, and try to not overthink your response.
I often find myself performing tasks that I had intended to do days before.
I do not do assignments until just before they are to be handed in.
Even with jobs that require little else except sitting down and doing them, I find they seldom get done for days.
In preparing for some deadline, I often waste time by doing other things.
I am continually saying “I’ll do it tomorrow”.Tackle things you want to do least, first. That means that the things you want to do are easier to tackle as you get tired or stressed.
I hope that some of the solutions recommended above help you lessen your procrastination.
Personality expert Dawn Billings is the author of 15 books and hundreds of articles. Dawn is the founder of RelationshipHelp.com, and author of the ONLINE comprehensive relationship program Relationship Help At Home. Dawn is the executive director of the luxury Relationship Help Resort in Arizona where she hosts couples private therapy intensives for people who want to heal and strengthen their relationships.