Precrastination – Less Speed, More Haste

Precrastination can be just as counterproductive as procrastination

We all know thPrecrastination setupat procrastination or the tendency of putting things off until later, is a common problem, but new research carried out at Penn State University by David A. Rosenbaum, Lanyun Gong, and Cory Adam Potts, and published in the journal Psychological Science suggests that rushing through a task as quickly as possible or precrastination is just as bad.

In their studies, a number of students were asked to pick one of two buckets filled with pennies and carry it across a finish line 16 feet away. One of the buckets was placed close to the start line the other close to the finish line, as shown in the diagram.

Surprisingly, many selected the bucket closest to them rather than the one nearest the final destination, even though that meant carrying the load further.

If you take pride in jumping on each new task without delay, you may want to think twice. Try these suggestions for getting precrastination under control.

Overcoming Precrastination in General

  1. Cut back on low priority activities. Precrastination is especially tempting when we’re doing something that we don’t care much about. Strive to fill your life with meaningful undertakings as much as possible.
  2. Focus on quality. Once you’ve revised your to do list to emphasize projects that engage you, it’s natural to feel more enthusiastic. When something is meaningful, you’ll give it your best effort, rather than just trying to get it over with.
  3. Consider all relevant factors. Sound decisions take a wide range of information into account. It’s prudent to put off installing your carpet until after you’ve finished painting the ceiling.
  4. Think long term. Remember your long term objectives. Looking ahead prevents missteps.
  5. Create batches. Bundling similar items can help you polish off minor jobs quickly. For example, buy all of your cleaning supplies at one time.
  6. Seek moderation. Psychologists suspect that some people are more vulnerable to both precrastination and procrastination. We can all benefit from heading toward the middle ground.
  7. Slow down. Pausing also enhances decision making. Consider the best timing for any project.
  8. Write a list. Part of the motivation behind precrastination is wanting to cross an item off the list of things we need to think about. Consider whether it makes more sense to iron a shirt now or make a note to do it later.

 Overcoming Precrastination in Specific Situations

  1. Analyze your workload. Precrastination is widespread. You may face pressure at work to act quickly, regardless of the consequences. Double check your reasoning when setting deadlines.
  2. Pace yourself in romantic relationships. Wanting to be part of a couple can make it difficult to wait for a partner who’s good for you. Being patient pays off.
  3. Monitor your parenting. One of the important things you teach your children is how to do things for themselves. Discuss how to find the most effective approach to studying algebra or building a tree house.
  4. Lose weight gradually. Diets are one of the most obvious areas where moving too quickly can backfire. When you lose pounds too fast, it’s likely to be water weight that you’ll just gain back. You may also wind up with more body fat and less muscle if it becomes a habit.
  5. Organize your housework. Think of all the time you can save by becoming more strategic about managing housework and errands. A comprehensive cleaning schedule will keep your home tidy and end the cycle of shifting clutter from one room to another.

Whether you’re moving buckets or running a business, planning your work will help you get more done. Establish priorities, and keep the big picture in mind. Once you realize that you may be creating extra work for yourself, you can turn the situation around. You’ll find it easier to replace both precrastination and procrastination with more rational decisions.

if you were involved in the experiment described which bucket would you choose? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Till Next Time

Mike Gardner – The Time Doctor

Mike Gardner aka ‘The Time Doctor’ and is highly regarded as one of the UK’s leading Time Management and productivity specialists. As well as being regularly featured in both online and off-line media outlets around the world, he is the author of the best selling time management book, Business Owners: Your Family Misses You. He regularly speaks on topics that are congruent with his mission of helping small business owners, entrepreneurs and independent professionals to be incredibly productive, whilst still balancing their business and family commitments in a way that enables them to feel fulfilled and guilt-free. He is an avid Aston Villa fan, a Dad to Neil & Emma, a hubby to Wendy and in his role as an Officer with the reserve forces, he has completed operational tours of Iraq and Afghanistan.

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20 thoughts on “Precrastination – Less Speed, More Haste

  1. On great trick for meaningful project is to visualize the outcome.

    The right brain imagine the outcome and feel the results, and immediately the left brain starts creating the steps to archive the result.

    If you cannot visualize it, it needs more thinking.

    a bientot
    Frank recently posted…How to embrace failure and succeedMy Profile

  2. I have never heard of precrastination and certainly don’t engage in it. I am procrastinator through and through although that means hurrying through it at the last minute. Hmm I am confused.

  3. Hi Mike,

    Well I HOPE I would select the bucket closest to the finishing line!

    But this is SUCH a relevant post for me…. because the family motto was always “Do it NOW”, but as you point out this isn’t always the best solution.

    Here are a couple of real life examples….

    1) Part of my offline business involved being the support desk for my accounting software. Sometimes people would ring in with a “crisis problem” and I would spring into action to solve it NOW. Then I noticed that often, if I waited a couple of hours, it would turn out to be a non-problem or they would have solved it themselves.

    2) I also provide book-keeping for various small businesses – including my own. Now, instead of “doing the books” monthly I do them either quarterly and even annually in some cases. Batching up the job cuts down the necessary “tooling-up” time.

    I still tend to “dive in”, but I am learning to slow down, and commend it to everyone.

    Hope you have/had a good Bank Holiday. Joy
    Joy Healey recently posted…Getting Paid To BlogMy Profile

    • Hi Joy, two great examples of procrastination, it’s difficult when it is someone else’s emergency and they expect us to solve it, and we feel we have to solve it from start to finish, however a lot of the time we just have to take an action that allows us to put everything under control we can then plan what to do next and in what timescales.