Sandglaz Blog

The 5 types of procrastinators

Life Hacks Productivity

Procrastination is productivity’s arch-nemesis. 

About 20% of adults in the U.S. are chronic procrastinators, according to research by psychology professor Joseph Ferrari.

Other research suggests that 80% to 95% of college students procrastinate, especially when it comes to their coursework. 

There’s no doubt that procrastination is a universal problem. We can all relate to how it feels to endlessly put off tasks. That’s because our brains are actually wired for it. Procrastination is a battle between our limbic system (the unconscious and automatic part of the brain that makes you pull away your hand from fire and that ) and the prefrontal cortex (the voice of reason and the planner).  

When you are confronted with a task that you don’t necessarily like, your limbic system and your prefrontal cortex will fight with each other. Pretty often, it’s the limbic system that wins. That’s when you decide to leave for tomorrow what you can do today. 

Procrastination makes us feel really bad about ourselves – feelings of guilt and self-doubt – and the more you procrastinate, the worse you feel. But that’s not all. A recent study by Dr. Ferrari, the psychology professor we mentioned above, suggests that procrastination also predicts lower salaries and a higher likelihood of unemployment. It also predicts other problems such as neglecting your health and failing to save for retirement. Overall, a long-term habit of procrastination can have dire consequences on your well-being.

Procrastination doesn’t only mean missing deadlines and abandoning tasks. Many chronic procrastinators meet deadlines by completing work at the eleventh hour, but fail to achieve their full potential by rushing the task. 

If you’re looking to turn around your procrastinating habit, then it’s important to understand why you leave tasks until the last possible minute. What type of procrastinator are you?

The Thrill-Seeker

If you’re a thrill-seeker, then you procrastinate because you actually get a rush from completing things last minute. You feel that you thrive under pressure and you love the adrenaline you get from handing in work in the last possible minute. But are you accomplishing your full potential when you’re spending so little time on your projects? 

The Avoider

The Avoider runs away from the discomfort of going through with a task that either is unpleasant or has high stakes. Avoiders are almost always too focused on what others might think. They run away from fear of failure or sometimes even fear of success.

They would much rather have others think that they lack effort rather than ability. They often try to make themselves feel better by running away from the task and not putting in any effort. Does “I wasn’t even trying” sound familiar?

The Indecisive Procrastinator

The Indecisive Procrastinator simply can’t make a decision. Usually, this is a result of the fear they will be blamed for a negative outcome. This type of procrastinator runs away from responsibility. After all, if they’re not making a decision, the result won’t be their fault. 

The Perfectionist

Perfectionists set such high standards for themselves that they become overwhelmed. This type of procrastinator might even get started on work, which the other kinds of procrastinators usually have a hard time doing, but they fail to finish when they can’t meet the unrealistic expectations they set for themselves. 

Because they can’t do something perfectly, then nothing gets done at all. Cue cycle of anxiety and shame.

The Busy Procrastinator

Busy procrastinators are just too busy to actually get down to the bottom of their to-do list. Everything seems equally important and they can’t decide what to do first. Choosing only one task would mean that the others won’t get done. Just like in the case of the Perfectionist, the Busy Procrastinator might actually start some of her work, but will fail to finish it. What this type of procrastinator needs is a big dose of prioritizing.

What type of procrastinator do you identify with? Let us know in the comments below. 

Sandglaz is the easiest way to collaborate with your team. Learn More


  • Pingback: The Zeigarnik effect: the scientific key to better work - Team Hacks()

  • Pingback: Can tomatoes make you more productive? - Team Hacks()

  • Pingback: Create the to-do list that you'll actually get done - Sandglaz blog()

  • Pingback: 7 goal hacks to help you achieve anything - Sandglaz Blog()

  • http://choffee.co.uk choffee

    Can I be all five?

    • Alina Vrabie

      So there is a 6th type I see :)

  • Pingback: 7 productivity tips for your team from 7 productivity experts - Sandglaz Blog()

  • Pingback: Eat the frog first to stop procrastinating - Sandglaz Blog()

  • The stress avoider

    So what do you call a procrastinator who is avoiding tasks because they’re too stressful to think about?

    • Alina Vrabie

      I guess that would be an Avoider. If tasks are too stressful to think about, there’s probably still some fear of failure/success in there because the stakes are too high.

  • BrainBrian

    I avoid and am too busy. That’s mostly it. Also the enormous amount of things I have to do (sometimes possible to complete in a short time) is just too daunting. And once you have started to avoid to-do-things, the amount of things you have to do keeps growing and becoming even more daunting. Hence more procrastination… etc. etc. The hardest part if just to start, so even while it sometimes helps to just begin, at a certain point even that becomes too difficult. :-(
    But perhaps the articles on this site can help me get started…

    • Alina Vrabie

      Hey BrainBrian, I agree with you – the hardest part often is to just start. Have you tried finding the smallest/least difficult part and starting with that? Once you do start, it’s a lot harder to stop. The trick is starting with something small so that you don’t get overwhelmed.

  • http://vimeo.com/wilsonfilho Wilson Filho

    I’m a mix of THE AVOIDER & THE PERFECTIONIST, facing the Resistance every single day…

    • Alina Vrabie

      Wowza, that’s a tough combination :) I say you avoid being a perfectionist and perfect getting started on tasks and you’ll be good!

  • Pingback: นักผัดวันประกันพรุ่งทั้ง 5 แบบ | Arika Academy()

  • Pingback: What Type Of Procrastinator Are You? - Uncommon Chick()

  • Pingback: Pre-crastinator | Call 021 174 9252()

  • Pingback: Perfectionism vs Productivity - The Professional Creative()

  • Pingback: By The Time I’m 40 Facebook Archives of My Life From 2009 | Robin Matteri()

  • Emiliano Kore

    As I see it.. There’s no only one kind… We surf trough all 5 depending on the actual situation… And one thing I didn’t found on this article was how we get rid of the actual procrastination problem itself????

    • Alina Vrabie

      Hi Emiliano, I agree with you that we all switch between the five types depending on circumstances. But I think some people who are chronic procrastinators will agree that they have one main reason why they procrastinate, and will be able to identify with one main type of procrastinator. As for solving the problem – there is no one way that works for everyone, but we do have articles that offer different strategies for dealing with procrastination, such as this one: http://blog.sandglaz.com/eat-the-frog-first-stop-procrastinating-start-prioritizing/

  • Badboybenny

    I’m the perfectionist,and thrill seeking. by the time I actually do something at the last minute,it gets done and it turns out to be awesome as hell.

    • NadaAldahleh

      Sounds like it’s working out for you! :)

  • Joe Croscup

    Hi Alina. I work at Pearson Education. One our author teams would like to reprint this article in their forthcoming textbook. If you would be interested please contact me at joseph.croscup@pearson.com so I can provide more details, etc.

    • NadaAldahleh

      Thanks for the interest in the article. I sent you an email.

  • elej

    I start of with plenty of time as The Perfectionist. Somewhere along the way I hit a bump and my schedule falls to pieces; I become The Avoider. Finally, when the deadline is too close, I become The Thrill-Seeker. I hammer out something surprisingly decent. The next time I start on something new, I underestimate the amount of time I would need based on the amount of time it took me to do my rush-job, and the cycle worsens.

    • NadaAldahleh

      The vicious cycle!