The pleasure that comes from completing a task can lead to pre-crastination, which is kind of the opposite of procrastination.
Procrastination is the bane of existence for millions of Americans who wait until the last minute to get tasks accomplished. While for some, procrastination is a matter of overt laziness, but for others, it is the thrill of the deadline that gets them moving at the last minute.
But there is another work habit that has inserted itself in the workplace, and it is in fact the polar opposite of procrastination. Those that study it call it “pre-crastination” and it is the desire to accomplish a task as quickly as possible without regard to how well the job is being done, or how complete the task is being accomplished.
According to the researchers and writers at Scientific American, precrastination is “the inclination to complete tasks quickly just for the sake of getting things done sooner rather than later.” Speed is of the essence to the precrastinator, quickness before quality.
Scientific American researched numerous studies related to precrastination, and found that in some cases people will do more work than they have to just to get the task done.
A Penn State study asked college students to carry a bucket of water down a path and were told to pick the bucket that seemed easiest to carry to the end of the path. One bucket was placed on the left side of the path exactly at the start of the path. Another was placed on the right side, several feet ahead of the start.
More students grabbed the bucket on the left than on the right, so that they were carrying the bucket farther than they would have had to. Asked why they chose the bucket on the left, responses were all similar to “I wanted to get the task done as soon as possible”.
That experiment was conducted nine times with 250 students, and invariably, the left bucket was chosen first. Researchers surmised without hard evidence that the draw to the left bucket was simply the idea of getting started on the task as soon as possible was the draw.
The researchers noted that doing a job immediately takes it off one’s list of things to do; it won’t be forgotten as a task later. That is alleviating something known as working memory, which is the need to remember to accomplish something later on. Also, doing a task that CAN be done quickly prevents us from tackling a task that by its nature requires more time.
Plus, there is a psychological reward for completing a task, whether that job has been done well or not.
Scientific American also theorized that precrastination is a way to save time. By rushing into a task rather than considering it at length, one can determine whether the initial method for accomplishing the task is successful. By the time a team studies the best way to do a task, a procrastinator can get the task done, and if necessary determine later if that was the best way to do it.
There is a more normalized way of accomplishing tasks, which is to give the task some thought and accomplish it when time allows. But precrastinators can’t wait for that kind of thoughtfulness, while procrastinators figure the task will get done eventually, so why get started now?
Ask Scientific American pointed out, it’s a question of which time-honored saying most hits home: “He who hesitates is lost” as a warning to procrastinators, or “look before you leap’’ as the warning to precrastinators.
Kent McDill is a staff writer for Millionaire Corner. McDill spent 30 years as a sports writer, working for United Press International and the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill. From 1988-1999, he covered the Chicago Bulls for the Daily Herald, traveling with them every day through the nine-month season. He also covered the Bulls for UPI from 1985-88, and currently covers the team for www.nba.com. He has written two books on the Bulls, including the new title “100 Things Bulls Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die’, published by Triumph Books. In August 2013, his new book “100 Things Bears Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die” gets published.
In 2008, he resigned from the Herald and became a freelance writer. The Herald hired him to write business features and speeches for the Daily Herald Business Conferences and Awards presentations.
McDill also writes a monthly parenting column for the Herald’s Suburban Parent magazine.
McDill is the father of four children, and an active fan of soccer, Jimmy Buffett and all things Disney.