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Home Blog Strengths Do you procrastinate? Maybe you’re just incubating.

Do you procrastinate? Maybe you’re just incubating.


I recently came across a great piece from Dr Robert Biswas-Diener - a positive psychologist, author and instructor at Portland State University - about procrastination and how we need to think differently about it.

It seems that some people who think they’re procrastinators are actually what Biswas-Diener calls “incubators.” They still get the work done, and with a high level of quality – it’s just that they need some time along the way to let the ideas percolate.

I love the idea of this, because I’m what the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) assessments call “pressure prompted”, which I guess is just another way of saying procrastinator. That said, I always know exactly what needs to be done and the plan of how I’m going to do it is usually forming in my head as I think about it from time to time, and then, usually right at the wire, I’ll churn out the work and send it off with clients and colleagues none the wiser (until now!). I’ve always done my best work at the last minute, the longer I take the more I faff and often this is when I’m asked to make the most amendments and changes.

So perhaps I should stop worrying about being a procrastinator. I should embrace it because maybe I’m not really “procrastinating” after all. To quote Biswas-Diener:

“Who really likes to wash laundry, balance checkbooks or fill out complicated tax forms? Most folks put these activities off in favour of more pleasant pastimes like socializing, going out to eat or reading a good book.

Procrastinators may have a habit of putting off important work. They may not ever get to projects or leave projects half finished. Importantly, when they do complete projects, the quality might be mediocre as a result of their lack of engagement or inability to work well under pressure.

Procrastination is the result of having very little motivation for a boring or unpleasant activity and it is something everyone experiences. The real problem is that procrastination can sometimes overshadow a hidden strength.

What [an incubator presents is] something qualitatively different: a clear sense of deadlines, confidence that the work would be complete on time, certainty that the work would be of superior quality and the ability to subconsciously process important ideas while doing other — often recreational — activities.”

So, I’ve decided, I’m an incubator not a procrastinator. Sometimes I just need to process stuff and consider what I’m doing for a few days before I’m ready to roll. That’s hardly a crime, is it?

Are you an incubator? Tell us about the way you approach things and whether this has ever got you into trouble – it has me on the odd occasion! – and we might just do a follow-up blog. Once I’ve incubated for a while, obviously.



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