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I'll Do it Later

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I'll Do It Later

I'll Do It Later

Understanding why we procrastinate and how we can fight the urge to put off planning for retirement.

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Could Procrastination Make You More Productive

Studies show our brains get fatigued from all the little decisions we make every day. So what happens if we take a break? Could procrastination actually make us more productive?

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The Procrastination Personality Test

We all procrastinate. But we do it for different reasons. Understanding your unique style of procrastination can help you identify why you’re putting things off, and what you can do to fight it.

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7:00 AM

The Procrastination Personality Test

Answer just a few hypothetical questions and find out what kind of procrastinator you are.

Answer just a few hypothetical questions and find out what kind of procrastinator you are.

7:00am

Imagine you work a 9 to 5 job and
answer as best as you can.

The alarm goes off.
What do you do?

7:09am

The alarm goes off again.
What do you do now?

Up and at ?em
a
Snooze
b
Snooze Again
b
7:45am

What do you accomplish before work in the morning?

Work on personal projects
a
Tidy up
b
Spend time with family
c
Put on clothes
d
8:55am

Ok, time for work.
Are you usually on time?

Always
a
On time-ish
b
On time is a state of mind
c
9:05am

You check your email. There's a message from Tom asking how it's coming on that thing. You haven't started yet. Why?

I'll get to it. I just work
better last-minute
a
I'll get to it. I just have
other things to do
b
I'll get to it. There are just
too many fires
c
1:00pm

You get the new enrollment forms for this year's benefits program. Do you:

Sign them
a
Do it later
b
11:17am

How well do you multitask?

Professional juggler
a
Not great
b
12:47pm

What's the hardest part
about a new assignment?

Getting started
a
Finding time to work on it
b
Staying focused
c
Getting motivated
d
Getting over anxiety
e
2:06pm

You're swamped. Jenny stops by. She needs a favor. So sorry. Can you just do this one extra thing?

Ok, I'll try to fit it in
a
Sorry. Way too busy
b
2:07pm

Do you have a hard time saying no?

Yes
a
No
b
2:05pm

Ok, finally a minute to focus. Time to get started. A blank page. How do you feel?

Great! Let's do this
a
Like I should straighten my desk
b
Overwhelmingly nauseous
c
4:31pm

You've been preoccupied.
What's distracting you?

Daydreaming about my other projects
a
The Internet
b
My coworkers
c
Nothing, I just have a hard time getting started
d
Nothing, I just work better last-minute
e
6:43pm

You get home. There's a stack of bills on the table. You decide to leave them for tomorrow. Why?

I don't feel like it
a
They're not due yet
b
I have other stuff to do
c

Calculating your
procrastination type...

3:45pm

How Come?

I don't have the energy right now
a
I don't want to fail
b
I put a lot of pressure on myself
a
I don't want to fail
b
I don't know where to start
c

You're the

ABOUT 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.

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."

ABOUT 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 especially true when it comes to planning for retirement. Since there's no immediate reward, it's hard to get motivated to start.

Advice

The first step is recognizing 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.

ABOUT 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 especially hard to stay on top of your finances. You know you need to do your taxes, balance your budget and pay the bills. But as soon as something more interesting comes along, you put them aside for later.

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.

ABOUT 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, paying the bills and filling out your workplace retirement packet. You know they're important. But when it comes to holding your concentration, they just can't compete with the whole entire Internet.

Advice

First, prioritize 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.

ABOUT 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.

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.

ABOUT 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.

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.

About the test +

To help you understand your unique style of procrastination, we worked with leading procrastination expert, Dr. Piers Steel to construct this personality test. Dr. Steel was able to pinpoint six unique types of procrastinators and offered advice on how each type of procrastinator can fight the urge to put things off.

Piers steel, ph.d +

Piers Steel, PhD, is one of the world's foremost researchers and speakers on the science of motivation and procrastination. A professor at the University of Calgary's Haskayne School of Business, Dr. Steel's research has appeared in major publications around the world. He is the author of The Procrastination Equation: How to Stop Putting Things Off and Start Getting Stuff Done.

Financial Tip:

When it comes to retirement planning, there are no buzzers to beat. 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. And if that doesn't do it, just have a look at the consequences of waiting. You can calculate the exact cost of procrastination with our Time To Up It calculator.

Take advantage of your people-pleasing tendencies by creating some peer pressure for yourself. If it's time to do your taxes, enroll in benefits or purchase a financial product, tell a friend and ask her 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 Map My Retirement 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. You can use our Time To Up It calculator to see just how much procrastinating can cost you.

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.

Try Time To Up It → Find a Financial Professional → Find a Financial Professional → Try Map My Retirement → Try Time To Up It → Find a Financial Professional →
Explore all the types
  • The Buzzer Beater
  • The People Pleaser
  • The Distracted
  • The Big Dreamer
  • The Unmotivated
  • The Worrier
What next?

Check out some more interactive tools that can help you make better financial decisions.

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Procrastination Calculator

We all procrastinate more than we'd like. So what if we stopped?
Could we really accomplish more?

On Average

We spend 2 hours a day

Procrastinating

How old are you?
Enter
In that time you could have:

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What's the Cost of Waiting

Contributing just a little more to your workplace retirement plan can make a huge difference down the road. But to have the biggest impact, it’s important to start now.

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TIME TO UP IT

Upping your workplace retirement contributions can go a long way in retirement.


See how contributing just a percentage or two more to your workplace retirement plan sooner rather than later can add up to a lot more in retirement. It's not as hard as you think.

 

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The Average Employee Waits

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Two Years

to sign up for their 401(K), costing them $20,000 in retirement.

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