We all know that 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Think long term. Remember your long term objectives. Looking ahead prevents missteps.
- Create batches. Bundling similar items can help you polish off minor jobs quickly. For example, buy all of your cleaning supplies at one time.
- 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.
- Slow down. Pausing also enhances decision making. Consider the best timing for any project.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Question: 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