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  • Writer's pictureDavid Stamation

Procrastination vs. Precrastination: Finding Your Productivity Sweet Spot

I’ve written extensively on procrastination, drawing from my experience with coaching clients and exploring ways to mitigate the desire to put off tasks using tools and techniques, coupled with deeper individual insights. However, I’ve never addressed “precrastination.”

Precrastination is the opposite of procrastination. It involves completing tasks as soon as possible to avoid thinking about them, often before they need to be completed.

While some people enjoy a healthy balance between procrastination and precrastination, many struggle or criticize themselves for leaning too heavily toward one or the other. Both conditions can bring about emotions like fear, nervousness, and anxiety. If you notice anxiety, take a moment to go slow and feel it in your body, asking yourself, "Am I worried?" Use your body for insight.

When I travel with my wife, she tends to precrastinate at the airport; she likes to arrive early and gets in line early to board the aircraft. To help her feel relaxed, I set aside my tendency to sit until the last minute and join her in getting on the same schedule.

Precrastination has some hidden costs that can be physical, financial or mental. Most precrastinators like to complete tasks sooner so they can avoid thinking about them. This could look like replying to an email without consideration or reflection; another is being preoccupied with a task when loved ones want your undivided attention.

The difference with precrastination is that, unlike procrastination, it doesn’t feel wrong. Precrastinators tend to be proud that they get stuff done, and others value their productivity.

A healthy balance between precrastination and procrastination involves planning and prioritizing tasks without the self-induced pressure to complete them immediately. For example, schedule times to tackle specific tasks or batch activities. It helps to recognize that some tasks don't need to be dealt with right away and can wait until later.

Read the 3-part series on procrastination to understand its roots and causes.


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