The Procrastination Challenge – 6 Procrastinators, which one are you?
It’s human nature to procrastinate. But some things, like saving for retirement, actually get harder to do the longer we put them off. Let’s understand how overcoming procrastination can help us reach our retirement goals.
THE BUZZER BEATER – For you, procrastination isn’t a problem. It’s a strategy. You manage your time well, multitask like a pro and know exactly how much time you need to get the job done well. You put things off, knowing that you always thrive under the pressure of a looming deadline.
Our Advice – Putting things off usually works to your advantage. Except when things don’t go according to plan. If there’s an unexpected emergency right before the deadline, your buzzer-beating habits can backfire. They can also get you in trouble when it comes to your finances. If you’ve been waiting to contribute to your retirement plan, you’re only missing out on potential gains.
THE PEOPLE PLEASER – You’re nice. Sometimes too nice for your own good. When people ask for favors, you almost always do them. Even if it means spreading yourself thin or putting off important stuff for later, like going to the doctor, signing up for life insurance or seeing your accountant.
Our Advice – The trick is to get more comfortable with saying no. You can still be nice about it. Just blame it on your workload. You can try things like, “I’d love to help, but I don’t even have enough time for all the commitments I’ve already made.” Or, “I don’t have the bandwidth to give it the attention it deserves.” Or even, “I may be able to help later, but I need to finish some other stuff first.”
THE DISTRACTED – Sometimes it seems like the whole world is trying to distract you. You try your best to multitask, but there are far too many tasks and not nearly enough of you. To make matters worse, your attention is easily swayed. So it’s especially hard to focus on everyday things like doing your taxes and paying the bills. You know they’re important. But when it comes to holding your concentration, they just can’t compete with the whole entire Internet.
Our Advice – First, prioritise your to-do list. If any of the smaller things can wait, put them aside and tackle the important stuff first. Then try to block out as many temptations as possible. Switch off the ding on your email. Power-down your smartphone. Turn off your Wi-Fi. If you work in a place with a lot of activity, put on headphones and turn up the music. The more you can take control of your surroundings, the less tempted you’ll be to procrastinate.
THE BIG DREAMER – You’re so great at coming up with ideas, you don’t have time to make them all happen. You’re passionate, motivated and follow your interests wherever they take you. (Even if that’s away from the task at hand.) This can make it expecially hard to stay on top of your finances. You know you need to do your taxed, balance your budget and pay the bills. But as soon as something more interesting comes along, you put them aside for later.
Our Advice – Next time you get excited about a new idea, think about what you’ll need to do to make it happen. Imagine the outcome you want, and compare that to where you are right now. Then think about all the steps you’ll need to take to close the gap. If you still feel excited about the idea, go for it. If you don’t, set it aside. Your energy will be better spent on other pursuits.
THE UNMOTIVATED – You tend to procrastinate because you don’t have the energy. Just thinking about your to -do list can be exhausting. You may not be that excited about the work. Or you might just feel too tired. Either way, you put things off, thinking you’ll be more motivated to do them later. This is expecially true when it comes to planning for retirement. Since there’s no immediate reward, it’s hard to get motivated to start.
Our Advice – The first step is recognising that you’re running on low. You can get a boost by exercising, getting a good night’s sleep or drinking a strong cup of coffee. Then figure out what time of day you’re most productive, and use that time to tackle the most important stuff on your list.
THE WORRIER – You set high goals for yourself. You may even be a perfectionist. So when you get an important new assignment, it can cause a lot of anxiety. You don’t want to let anyone down – or, worse, fail. So you put the task aside and focus on something easier and less ulcer-inducing. The same thing can happen with your retirement planning. When you think about how much money you’ll need to put away, it can be paralyzing. So you put it off for later.
Our Advice – How many times have you started a task only to find out that it wasn’t so bad after all? The best thing you can do is just get started. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t even have to be good yet. It just has to get you going. Even 10 minutes of work can give you the momentum you need to get past your anxiety and get the work done. Take your retirement planning, for example. Don’t stress about the nest egg. Just focus on the dollar you need to put away today.
ISN FINANCIAL HOT TIPS – When it comes to retirement planning, the longer you wait to start contributing, the more you’ll miss out on the power of compounding interest, or potential investment returns. To help motivate yourself, try creating some artificial deadlines.
Take advantage of your people-pleasing tendencies by creating some peer pressure for yourself, tell a friend and ask them to remind you. Or better yet, contact a financial professional, who can help you keep your finances on track.
It can be hard to stay focused on mundane tasks like filling out financial paperwork, paying bills or finding a financial advisor. But they’re important. And they don’t take long. So find a quiet place, turn off your phone and take care of business. When you’re done, you can procrastinate all you want.
Studies show that imagining your life in the future can help motivate you to save more for retirement. So let yourself envision the life you want in retirement. Then use our Retirement Solution tool to find out how much that life will cost, and how you can start planning for it.
Need some motivation? Give yourself a reward for completing important financial tasks. Or think about the consequences of putting them off.
Make a list of to-dos. Gather up important financial paperwork. Then consider talking with a financial professional who can help you make sure anxiety doesn’t get in the way of a secure financial future.