In order to figure out what medicine to take you first have to figure out what you've got. Is it a brain tumor, a migraine, or a bad hangover? The answer will determine whether you opt for aspirin or surgery.
And what's true for medical conditions, is equally true for day-to-day (and far less terrifying) productivity problems. Not all burnout is the same. And neither, apparently, are all forms of procrastination.
We don't all waste time for the same reasons, insists Joseph Ferrari, a psychologist at DePaul University and author of Still Procrastinating? The No Regrets Guide to Getting It Done, and you need to know why you procrastinate in order to beat the problem.
In the book, Ferrari breaks down our time-wasting tendencies into three subtypes.
1. Thrill seekers.
These are the ever-confident folks who firmly believe they "work better under pressure." The likely truth, according to Ferrari, is they simply like the thrill of scrambling to get things done at the last minute.
This group includes wafflers who either don't have a lot of confidence in their decision making and hope by putting off choosing others might decide for them, or those who enjoy the feeling of being able to stand in judgment of others without committing to any course of action themselves.
Most of us would call this type of person a perfectionist -- they put off doing things because they fear not being good enough. A variation of this type is those that fear success itself and the spotlight and the elevated expectations it brings.
It should be noted that other experts have outlined a fourth, rarely recognized form of procrastination.
Which are you?
There are separate cures for each subtype (check out this Lifehacker post for a deeper dive into the prescription for each strain of procrastination), but the first order of business is determining which form of the common complaint you're afflicted with. Together, Ferrari and OfficeTime have made it easy to tell: just follow the flowchart below.