Procrastination is rarely a positive trait. However, going too far in the opposite direction — over-exerting yourself to get things done as early as possible — can also cause undue physical and emotional stress.
As Psych Central explains, putting items on your to-do list can have a counterproductive effect on our stress if the result is that we freak out because our list is long. To-do lists aren't inherently bad, but if the reaction is to rush to cross items off like your deadline is approaching (even when it's not), there's not much benefit to doing things early:
"Most of us feel stressed about all the things we need to do — we have to-do lists, not just on slips of paper we carry with us or on our iPhones, but also in our heads," said psychological scientist and study author Dr. David Rosenbaum.
"Our findings suggest that the desire to relieve the stress of maintaining that information in working memory can cause us to over-exert ourselves physically or take extra risks."
Of course, this doesn't mean that procrastination is the answer. Rather, like in most areas of life, moderation is key. You obviously don't want to wait until the last minute to get things done, but don't rush if you don't have to. It may take a little more time, but your stress levels will thank you.
That 'To-Do' List May Lead to Stress and Risk [Psych Central]