'Precrastinating' Can Be Just As Bad As Procrastinating

We know that procrastination can hurt productivity. According to Lisa Evans at Fast Company the opposite of procrastination — "precrastination" — can be just as harmful.

Photo by Eelke

You might think that completing tasks before they actually need to be done would improve your productivity and put your mind at ease, but Evans explains why it's not always best to immediately put all of your focus on a task:

While performance on the task at hand may improve, performance on other tasks — like meetings, email interruptions, and phone calls — is going to falter because your attention is directed elsewhere. A procrastinator, on the other hand, may capitalise on that interruption and perform better because it delays work further. Precrastinating may feel better than procrastinating, as you avoid that nagging knowledge that you should be doing something else, but rushing to complete a task may result in decreased performance.

For some tasks, giving your complete focus to it — and completing it sooner rather than later — is a fine tactic. Other times, your overall productivity can be hampered by it. So take that into consideration when you're worried about getting something done. You could miss out on benefits from procrastination too, like having more time to incubate ideas or having more time to remember important details about the task at hand.

"Precrastinating" and Why It's Just as Bad as Procrastinating [Fast Company]


    Anyone got any tips for chronic procrastination other than 'have more self-control'?

      It's difficult. The main driver of procrastination is anxiety, often because the task ahead feels too big or too difficult.

      Among the first things you can do:
      - Discuss the task with others who will be doing the task or have done it before
      - Break down the task into pieces. There's no right/wrong way to do this -- just make a high-level list of stuff you need to do or find out to get started.
      - Whenever you become aware of a new thing you need to know or do for your task, record it under a section of your list
      - Work in a iterative way, not a sequential way, whenever you can. e.g. If you're working on a highly-detailed report, "sketch" the sections it should have, re-read, fill in what you know and what you don't know, re-read, research & add more detail until it makes sense and feels complete, re-read etc.

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