The Four Types Of Procrastinators According To Experts, And How To Not Be One | Ali Schiller and Marissa Boisvert


What type of procrastinator are you? In this episode, Ali Schiller and Marissa Boisvert, expert accountability coaches and co-owners of Accountability Works, share the four types of procrastinators that exist, the reasons for each one and how to beat them in order to achieve your goals.


Ali Schiller & Marissa Boisvert

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Ceci Amador de San Jose [00:00:17] Welcome to the Future of Work podcast by Allwork.Space. I’m Ceci Amador de San Jose and today I’m looking forward to talking with Ali Schiller and Marissa Boisvert. Co-Owners of Accountability Works for different types of procrastination and how people can break free of procrastinating in order to meet their goals. Ali and Marissa, welcome. 

Ali Schiller [00:00:39] Thank you so much. Ceci, we’re so happy to be here with you today. 

Ali Schiller [00:00:42] Really excited to have you guys on board. I know this is a topic that’s probably something that a lot of people will identify with. 

Ali Schiller [00:00:50] For sure! 

Ceci Amador de San Jose [00:00:50] So let’s start by telling us a little bit about what Accountability Works is. What kind of work do you do? What kind of clients do you usually have? Why do they seek you out specifically? 

Ali Schiller [00:01:07] Sure. So we are accountability coaches and so we provide accountability coaching to small business owners, leadership teams. Anyone really who wants to set goals but not set them and then never look at them again. They really want to come back to them and have accountability along the way. So these are people that desire structure. They really want to finish something that they’ve started. So it could be a big project that maybe they had been working on for some time. 

Ali Schiller [00:01:43] But it doesn’t seem to be getting traction or there’s a lot of other fires that come up that distract them from working on it. And so they’re kind of fed up or tired with that. And they really want to make sure that every week someone is holding them accountable. And typically, they don’t have someone the way their organization is structured, the way their job is. It could be even someone who is a contractor or freelancer. They might not have anyone in their life that holds them accountable or in their professional life that holds them accountable. And so they want to do that. 

Ali Schiller [00:02:23] And then we also hold people accountable to their personal goals. So it’s not just professional. So it would be kind of a different approach than what you might be used to having a business coach or working with someone who is going to help you reach your professional goals where you don’t touch anything personal in this realm. 

Ali Schiller [00:02:43] We really excel at creating that balance between the different parts of your life so that you have more of a holistic view of success and what it means to be doing the things that you say you’re going to do instead of just outwork. It’s also at home in the relationships that you have and how you take care of your health and all those different pieces. So they seek us out really because they want accountability and they might want it in more than one area of their life. And they really, really desire structure and we provide that. 

Ceci Amador de San Jose [00:03:24] How do you provide that? Marissa? 

Marissa Boisvert [00:03:26] Well, we have our signature process. So one of the things that people love the most about our program is they know what to expect week after week. So there is a cadence that comes from that and it just helps people relax and feel more. Supported and they just get so much more out of the process because of that. 

Ceci Amador de San Jose [00:03:56] And I definitely agree with people needing a lot of structure sometimes to meet their goals, stick to their projects. And a lot of the time, I think, especially if we don’t have the structure, is that we end up procrastinating. 

Ceci Amador de San Jose [00:04:12] And I know this is something that you guys talk a lot about and both in the personal and professional areas of our lives. New Year’s goals or if you. I know I struggle with it. So I have to set my own deadlines sometimes or else I know that I’ll just keep pushing it off and pushing it off until the very last minute. How do you help your clients overcome procrastination? How? First of all, how do you, in Accountability Works, define procrastination? And then how do you help your clients kind of like become better about procrastinating and having a structure that works for them? 

Marissa Boisvert [00:04:56] So as far as defining procrastination, we always say that you come to accountability when you want to get better at doing what you said you were going to do. So procrastination. All of us. It’s the things that we really want to be doing. But we just aren’t. There is some block that is happening that is preventing us. 

Marissa Boisvert [00:05:23] From taking either the first step or consistent action. So how we help people overcome that is we meet with people weekly. So when you come to our program, you come very clear with what you want to accomplish in your life. And again, that can be personal or professional. We do help you kind of refine your goals. You get super clear on a strategy for each goal. But you know what you want to do. And then from there, our program is structured so that we meet weekly. 

Marissa Boisvert [00:05:59] So you set weekly commitments and then you come back and you check on them. So. Accountability. One of the big reasons it works is because you have to show up and you have to say if you did it or if you didn’t do it. And then we explore. If it’s not getting done, what is preventing it from getting done? 

Ceci Amador de San Jose [00:06:22] In your experience, are there any common reasons why people procrastinate or why they aren’t doing what they should be doing? 

Marissa Boisvert [00:06:33] Well, we have sort of narrowed it down to four types of procrastinators. 

Ceci Amador de San Jose [00:06:40] OK. I’d love to hear about these types of procrastinators. 

Ali Schiller [00:06:43] OK, Ali, do you want to jump in here? 

Ali Schiller [00:06:46] Well, you should definitely do the first one. I’ll do the last two since we can relate best to those. 

Marissa Boisvert [00:06:59] So the reason why Ali is having me do number one, it is the performer. It is the person who says I work well under pressure. 

Ceci Amador de San Jose [00:07:07] That’s me. 

Marissa Boisvert [00:07:08] That’s yours too?!

Marissa Boisvert [00:07:12] So I actually took this to another level of my life. I described it as I work best under pressure. And what we discovered is that this type of procrastinating forces themselves to focus. By shrinking the time they have to tackle a task. And the real reason behind this in most cases is perfectionism. So the biggest challenge here is just getting started. So we help people that clearly are performers to flip it and set a start date. 

Ceci Amador de San Jose [00:07:51] OK, that’s very interesting. Maybe I should try that. 

Marissa Boisvert [00:07:55] It works because personally, I can just share that. I had this as a lifelong habit for me, you know, for as long as I can remember, I don’t know when it started and I really believe it. I really believe this story that the best work came from when I had the least amount of time to work from it. And what I discovered was that is not true at all. Actually I think my work got a lot better because when I started things earlier, it just gave me more time to refine and be more creative. 

Marissa Boisvert [00:08:34] And it’s just a habit like anything else. So if you start things sooner, you just get used to working like that, you know, and if you wait until the night before Vēl, you’re just in that habit. So I think you should definitely give it a go. 

Ceci Amador de San Jose [00:08:49] I feel like I should. I’ve so I’ve always been one like I work really well under pressure, like you said. And I know that when people tell me, like, OK, so you need to have this done by tomorrow. That’s when I’ll start working on it versus if you say, yeah, you have like two, two weeks, 10 days and l like we start working a couple of days before work and then the dumb like crunching, like typing and then it’s like a one day, ten hour work. 

Ceci Amador de San Jose [00:09:20] They just so that I could get done what I had several days to focus on. So yeah, I think I never even thought about how putting a deadline to start working on it could be useful. So I’ll definitely try that and I’ll have to get back to you and whether that works or not. 

Marissa Boisvert [00:09:40] I would love to hear it. I mean, for us to and we have to hold ourselves accountable to this is what helped me also break this habit was when I decided to be in business, because there are just too many moving pieces that if you’re just in that habit of doing everything at the last minute, at some point. It’s just going to crumble. 

Ali Schiller [00:10:04] So especially if you’re in the business of keeping people organized. So you have to do everything way ahead of time. 

Marissa Boisvert [00:10:12] That’s right! 

Ceci Amador de San Jose [00:10:17] OK. So that’s one type. And then what’s the second type of procrastinator? 

Marissa Boisvert [00:10:22] The second type is the self deprecator. Who says I am so lazy right now? So this type of procrastinator is the opposite of lazy. OK? So when they’re not doing something, they’re extra hard on themselves. They tend to blame an action on laziness or stubbornness. Rather than just admit that they are tired. OK. So what we find that is their biggest challenge is just taking a break and being more compassionate with themselves. 

Ceci Amador de San Jose [00:11:01] It’s funny because as you say this, I was thinking of exactly one person I know that’s exactly like this. And I’m like, you need to like, take a break. Get a hobby. Do something that’s not work related, like you like even if it’s during the workday, like a 15 minute break. It’s allowed because he’s like, I feel bad. I only work like six hours today. 

Ceci Amador de San Jose [00:11:23] Like, that’s that’s a lot like actual productive hours of work. That’s, that’s a lot. 

Marissa Boisvert [00:11:29] : But you also see this type of person often get sick. 

Ceci Amador de San Jose [00:11:37] Yep! 

Marissa Boisvert [00:11:37] And because they haven’t allowed themselves any time off. And so they are only allowed to not be productive if they’re, you know, if they’re not feeling well or they’ll be really hard on themselves for that. So this is a kind of a really different form of procrastination. 

Ceci Amador de San Jose [00:12:02] How do you help this type of procrastinator to break that pattern? What type of do you do like have them set reminders to take breaks or what are some strategies that they can use to kind of like, cope and be better about this. 

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Marissa Boisvert [00:12:23] Yes, exactly, we do encourage them to recharge. And a lot of times that starts with. A five or 10 minute walk or 10 minutes of what do I need at this moment? And giving yourself permission to do that. And then from there, it typically grows. They start to feel the benefits pretty quickly. And it gets easier to build and to change this habit. 

Ceci Amador de San Jose [00:12:51] Like, I don’t know, I’ve always believed that just like a five minute break, just like standing up and not staring at my computer works. But if they’re not used to them, they are hard on themselves for that. I can imagine it’s really painful for them to kind of take a break and just like disconnect for a little bit. 

Ceci Amador de San Jose [00:13:10] OK, so, Ali, I think it’s it’s your turn, what are the other two types of procrastinators? 

Ali Schiller [00:13:17] The over-booker is someone who says, I’m so busy, I’m so busy and I’m sorry I couldn’t do it. I just got busy or I didn’t finish that because I was so busy. And we all know that person or have been that person. And it’s really interesting because truly, you know, we work with people who know one office into accountability that doesn’t really want to get things done. So they tend to be the type of people that are already driven. They’re focused on goals. You know, they like the feeling of completion and they want more of it. And and so really, you know, it’s it’s true that that’s saying if you want to get something done, give it to a busy person, because they do get a lot done. So when you hear busy, it usually means that they’re avoiding something. So there’s something going on that they don’t want they don’t want to look at. They don’t want to be taken care of. And it’s typically not the task itself. And so when we work with that person, with that specific excuse, we don’t really listen so much. And we really dove into what they didn’t do and why they didn’t do that one, why they didn’t do that thing, what they were, what is it that they’re avoiding. And it could be like an uncomfortable conversation and it could be something like there they need to put themselves out there and not feel scared. It could be you know, they have a fear of, like, finding something out. They don’t really want to know. So when you dig into a little bit, you don’t really, you know, get stuck on the busy or go, oh, yeah, I’m sure you were busy. That sounds like a tough week and you actually dove into it. They typically have a big learning about what it is they’re avoiding and then they’re ready once they know, they’re ready to face it. 

Ceci Amador de San Jose [00:15:18] And what’s the last one? 

Ali Schiller [00:15:21] Well, this one is the novelty seeker. And this is the person that is just constantly saying, I just had the best idea. They’re always coming up with something new. It’s really hard. All of our people are in our program for twelve weeks at a time. And so they are setting 12 goals. And this person, typically, by week six, has a whole new set of goals. They want to start. So they’re very creative. They get really excited. They have so many ideas and really they’re there. Their biggest challenge is completion. So our job, when we work with them and that’s really why they come to us is like, I just need to finish one of these things. If I just finish one of my 15 great ideas, I would be so happy. 

Ceci Amador de San Jose [00:16:13] I mean, it’s funny because if you were describing each procrastinator type, I, I have someone in my life that I know fits exactly into what you are describing. And then so you were talking about sometimes that procrastinators are not avoiding a task specifically, but something else. And then what? What’s the science behind procrastination? 

Ceci Amador de San Jose [00:16:40] What are some of the consequences of being a procrastinator in the long term or really, really struggling with it on a daily basis. 

Ali Schiller [00:16:51] In terms of like release chronic, serious procrastination, which we we have people come to us who are also seeing therapists working with depression, working with anxiety, working with, you know, working with different kind of mental illnesses that really struggle with procrastination. And. And I feel like what we tried to keep them aware of and to be focused on is really just like incremental improvement, because the building of momentum builds confidence, which builds positive feelings about one’s self, which helps them move out of their dark space. 

Ali Schiller [00:17:50] And I think all the time we’re aware that procrastination is very common for most all of us, and we can all think of the time that we’ve procrastinated. 

Ali Schiller [00:18:01] But for some people, procrastination feels debilitating. But because we work with so many different kinds of procrastinators, we don’t see that we don’t have the same language that someone that’s in depression feels about their procrastination. So we might hold someone accountable that is not diagnosed with depression. And they didn’t do, you know, something that they said they were going to do and they will feel. You know, they’ll have feelings about that, but we’ll be able to work through them and then someone who suffers from, let’s say, depression or anxiety. We’ll have so much heaviness around a very similar thing. And so part of what we’re sharing with them is like, this is normal. You’ll move through it. It’s not as you know, it’s it’s we’re going to continue to work on this. So I think that procrastination in terms of how it impacts different people, really, really it really is interesting from our perspective, because something that we’re working with all the time. 

Ali Schiller [00:19:03] Marissa, do you want to add your thoughts to that? 

Marissa Boisvert [00:19:05] I think that when you said the word the long term consequences of procrastination. Ali and I. The thing that the two of us share, our biggest passion is helping people accomplish what is most important to them in their lives. 

Marissa Boisvert [00:19:23] And if we procrastinate, that can turn… what starts is procrastinating around completing something for a month can turn into years and years can turn into a decade. You know, so on and so on. I think you have to have those check ins with yourself when you say, how am I going to feel if I am not taking action towards the things that are most important to me in my life. 

Marissa Boisvert [00:19:52] And I think for most of us, that is the source of anxiety. I mean, I know I can say personally, I feel the most anxious when I’m not taking action on things I want to be taking action on. So if we just strip it down every once in a while, we ask ourselves that question. I loved love how you said that. What is a long term consequence for? Not for procrastinating on something I know I want to accomplish. Typically, the discomfort that you feel can be the motivation that at least helps you start moving in the right direction or seeking out the support you need, like accountability and. 

Marissa Boisvert [00:20:37] It’s getting started. That’s it so many times is the hardest part. Right. And then like what Ali was saying, from there, you just build, build and build it before you know it. You just look back and you can’t believe what you’ve done. 

Ceci Amador de San Jose [00:20:50] Speaking about. So your program, I know it helps people be accountable. It helps them break their pattern. What are some of the things that your clients have said when they finish your program? Do they usually have achieved a specific goal or are they like more than three quarters of the way to achieving it? What does the end of your program look like? 

Ali Schiller [00:21:15] That’s a funny question because most of the people that go through our program are in with us for a whole year. So they set goals for the year and then they set goals each quarter. And one of the things that we see is this really long term evolution, whether it’s, you know, we’re in a pandemic. So we see people, yes, they’re achieving their goals, but they’re also creating new new ones you like. Okay, I rocked my business. Now I want to work on my relationships or now I’ve done that. Now I really want to focus on my health. Now I really want to go back to growing my business. 

Ali Schiller [00:22:06] And so we see people achieve not just one goal in one area, but many goals that overlap over time. And I think this year’s been the most interesting because of the. How much we expected people to fall off track, how much we expected people to want to completely change their goals or change their plan for the year and how much we’ve seen people stick to it and really do way more than we thought was possible. 

Marissa Boisvert [00:22:40] Well, what’s also interesting is that most of our clients are with us for years. So it’s not. That they come to just achieve one thing. It’s that they want to be in a process where. There’s the finish line. But they know the next things are coming and what happens in this process is over time, your capacity to achieve more expands. 

Marissa Boisvert [00:23:16] And that’s one of the coolest things to see when we made the change from working with people quarterly to being in year long memberships. We really started to notice this difference. And we started to notice a difference because the call started taking longer. Really, what is going on with the same process? Like their capacity is expanding. They’re actually able to do more. So it’s really cool because in the beginning, a lot of the time, we are helping them trim down. It’s like they come to us. I have 10 things I want to be working on. And we force them to narrow it down to three. And by being in the process and getting better with time and energy management and gauging how long things take. And establishing the habits in their lives that give them more energy, they are able to actually do more and still feel however they define balance in their life. 

Ceci Amador de San Jose [00:24:20] That’s amazing. And I can imagine that for you, too. This must be really fulfilling watching your clients advance and meet their goals and just kind of grow in general as a person through the process. 

Marissa Boisvert [00:24:34] Yes, it is. So rewarding. 

Ceci Amador de San Jose [00:24:38] And then I don’t know if there’s anything else you want to add before we wrap this episode up. 

Ali Schiller [00:24:44] I really appreciated your questions and your time. Sassy. It’s been really fun to talk about procrastination and the work that we really love to do. So thank you so much. 
Ceci Amador de San Jose [00:24:57] Thank you guys for taking the time to speak with us and for sharing your insights and some strategies on how people can break out of their procrastinating behavior once they identify themselves with either of the four types. So thank you again so much. And thank you, everyone, for tuning in once again to the Future of Work podcast.

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