We all know about the problem of procrastination. It is common to be slow when completing a task or to put off doing it. However, another issue that impacts productivity that is rarely discussed (despite it being common) is that of precrastination – the opposite of procrastination. It refers to working on tasks at the earliest opportunity, as well as the tendency to get tasks done as soon as possible.
Let’s explore how precrastination can affect productivity and how you can find the ideal working style, lying in between precrastination and procrastination.
How Precrastination Impacts Productivity
If you don’t want to procrastinate, it’s understandable that you would want to tackle tasks as soon as possible. But this can actually result in a loss of productivity in a variety of ways:
- By not planning and rushing into a task, you could end up spending longer on it than you would if you put some forethought into it. You may also complete the task to a lower standard without any planning involved.
- You tackle many unimportant tasks all at once while neglecting more important or urgent tasks. For example, this could involve replying to every single unread email in the morning, which could deplete your energy for an urgent task later on.
- By completing a task as quickly as possible, you are more likely to make mistakes. If these mistakes are serious or numerous enough, you could end up spending more time correcting them than you would if you worked more slowly and carefully.
- Rushing to complete tasks can entail higher levels of stress and fatigue than working slowly and deliberately. Excessive stress and fatigue will lead to poorer productivity in the long run.
Precrastination is common because it helps us deal with negative emotions. For example, an outstanding task – such as a reply to a work email or correcting an error – may cause a burst of anxiety. You will want to complete that task immediately to alleviate the anxiety; however, this may can come at a cost.
The cost could interrupt your workflow or stop you from working on a more important task. This aligns with the description of precrastination from the psychology professor David Rosenbaum: “Precrastination is a tendency to work on tasks at the earliest opportunity –even if it means more work or comes with extra costs.”
The precrastinator fails to delay unimportant tasks long enough, impacting overall productivity.
If you find yourself struggling with precrastination, doing it out of habit, you can avoid this pitfall in a number of ways:
- Be mindful of precrastination, including the negative emotions behind it. This awareness will help you pause and give you some space so that you don’t just habitually engage in precrastinating behavior.
- Practice emotional tolerance: this means sitting with the anxiety that may be causing your tendency to precrastinate. Allow negative emotions related to tasks to arise and pass without fighting them. This will lead to you tackling your tasks in a calm and collected manner.
- Make sure you are being deliberate and careful when completing tasks, even if they are simple tasks like responding to an email. You don’t want to rush it and make a blunder without realizing it.
- Work on one area of your life where you precrastinate (preferably where you precrastinate in a small or medium way), then move on to the next more difficult area. Don’t try to be too ambitious with tackling precrastination, as this could set you up for failure and affect your motivation to improve yourself.
Finding the middle ground between precrastination and procrastination can be difficult. Developing a greater awareness of your working habits, whether you are precrastinating or procrastinating will give you a chance to work deliberately, neither rushing nor getting distracted. Read on to explore the topic further and discover what positive procrastination is.