Everything You Need To Know About Precrastination

Many of us battle with procrastination, the impulse to put tasks off until the last minute or even later.

But there is another habit that’s sometimes linked to procrastination: precrastination.

It’s when we rush to get tasks done as soon as possible in an attempt to not have those tasks lingering on our minds later, so we stop cluttering our headspace and causing our anxiety.

If you think this is a positive, wait till you hear what David Rosenbaum, the professor who coined this term has to say about it. Tune in to the episode to learn what precrastination is all about and find ways how to overcome this phenomenon.

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Episode Highlights:

  • 01:53 Pre-crastination: the opposite of procrastination
  • 01:55 David Rosenbaum – the professor who coined this term
  • 02:25 The experiment that led to the discovery of this phenomenon called precrastination
  • 03:35 Why do we precrastinate or tend to jump ahead and go into action?
  • 03:52 3 reasons why we as humans tend to pre-crastinate
  • 06:58 4 easy ways to stop pre-crastinating


“The ultimate cause of pre-crastination is the same as procrastination, and that is the alleviation of that painful emotion.”  – Dhiren Bhatia

“We think time management versus energy management, a lot of that has to do with how we are conditioned about productivity, we are taught that managing our time is the most effective way of getting things done.”  – Dhiren Bhatia

“We are taught that managing our time is the most effective way of getting things done. So if you already have an hour, it makes sense that you do all the easy stuff first. However, it’s actually about energy management more than it is about time management. If you can conserve your energy, you can get a lot more work done, which is why a lot of people tend to get the best creative work done, when they’re up early in the morning, when they have a lot of that creative energy versus doing this later or in the day when they have less of that creative energy.”  – Dhiren Bhatia


Have you parked in the first spot you see at the grocery store? Do you check every phone notification the minute you receive it? Or do you check emails as soon as you open your laptop? If yes, it could mean that you are prone to precrastinating. And if you’re wondering, what is precrastination, that is exactly what we’re talking about. In this fantastic episode of the Elevated Entrepreneur podcast. We’re talking about why we precrastinate and how we can overcome this feeling of precrastination. So grab your headphones, turn up the volume. Oh, and grab a cup of coffee. And let’s cue the music. 


Hey there, welcome to the Elevated Entrepreneur Podcast. This podcast is designed specifically for entrepreneurs and founders to implement winning habits, mindset and systems, so they can elevate their entrepreneurship game and quit the hustle game. My name is Dhire Bhatia. Let’s get started.


Now let’s talk about precrastination first, and if you checked out the episode before this one, we talked about procrastination, and precrastination is typically considered to be the opposite of procrastination. So what is precrastination? Well, that is the inclination to complete tasks quickly, just for the sake of getting things done sooner rather than later. People answering emails immediately rather than carefully contemplating what that response might be people paying their bills as soon as they get it, rather than saving interest income, or people grabbing items as soon as they enter the grocery store, and then lug those items all the way to the back of the grocery store, and then collect more items, and then bring those very items back to the front of the store and make payment. All very good examples of precrastination. 


Now, precrastination itself is a relatively new term. It was coined in 2014 by a psychology professor named David Rosenbaum. And he coined this term in a study that he published in 2014. Professor David Rosenbaum defines precrastination as a tendency to work on tasks at the earliest opportunity, even if it means more work, or comes with extra cost. What’s really interesting is how he discovered this phenomenon called precrastination. 


He ran an experiment with a set of college students, and he took them into an alleyway. And in that alleyway, there were two sets of buckets on either side. And the instructions that were given to the students were that they had to pick up buckets as they walked along this alleyway and get to the end of that alley. What’s really interesting about this study is that the students actually picked up the buckets that were closer to the start of the alley, despite having buckets placed closer to the end of the alley. 


And when the students were asked why they picked up the buckets, so early on in the alleyway, they said they wanted to finish the task as soon as possible, even though picking the narrow bucket did not help in this regard, and simply meant that they had to expend more physical effort. 


And as I was reading the results of this survey, I was thinking about all the times where I jump into action without thinking, whether that’s responding to an email as soon as I receive it, or maybe receiving a whatsapp notification, and jumping to respond to that, without even thinking through my response, which led me to ask the question, why is it that we precrastinate, 


why do we tend to jump ahead and go into action? As I was doing more research, I also learned that ironically, the ultimate cause of precrastination is the same as procrastination. And that is the alleviation of that painful emotion. 


And I discovered that there are three reasons why as humans tend to precrastinate, the first one being the survival instinct. For most of our history as a species, going after low hanging fruit in life probably made a lot more sense than putting things off in order to gain a long term reward. Who knows I might not survive that attacked by that lion. 


So it makes sense for me to go grab my easiest available meal, or what if all of our next few hunting trips are going to be unsuccessful, so I rather gather all my food at this very moment and start saving. And because the brains have spent hundreds and 1000s of years in during under the circumstances, and only a couple of 100 years under the relatively safe circumstances of our current life, putting off the easy, small stuff is going against the biological thought process. Another reason we tend to precrastinate is because we think in terms of time management versus energy management, we think time management versus energy minute, and we think time management versus energy management. A lot of that has to do how we’re conditioned about productivity. We are taught that managing our time is the most effective way of getting things done. So if you only have an hour, it makes sense that you do all of the easy stuff. First. However, it’s actually about energy management more than it is time management. If you are able to conserve your energy, you can get a lot more work done, which is why a lot of people tend to get the best creative work done, when they’re up early in the morning, when they have a lot of that creative energy versus doing this later, or in the day when they have less of that creative energy. Another good reason that we tend to precrastinate simply cheap satisfaction. Research has shown that we get a lot of pleasure when we check off things on our to do list, which is why we gravitate towards all of the easy stuff. And we want to check off that box on our to do list. And that is what gives us the most pleasure, the feeling of completeness, the feeling of actually doing something even though that may not be the most productive item on that list. That actually also makes a lot of sense. Because psychologically, we are happier when we are actually doing things when we are busy doing the itsy bitsy things, versus waiting planning and thinking about some of the bigger things that we need to do. So we are always action faking, or attending to do things that are not really high up on the important scale, but our low hanging fruit, and that gives us the sense of happiness. This gives us this sense of being productive. And one final reason why I think we tend to precrastinate is because we don’t tend to connect our tasks to our goals. We don’t connect our short term goals to our long term goals. And we tend to do a lot of the things that really come to us in the in the heat of the moment that come to us last minute. And we just get those things done and checked off our list, whether that’s going to dance class learning, drawing, and just because you wanted to learn Spanish, you took it on. But now you realize that was not the most important thing that you need to do at this very moment in time. 


So I’m going to give you four easy ways that you can use to stop precrastinating if you are, or stop doing things ahead of time, knowing that doing them later is going to give you more benefit. But before I tell you those four tips, here’s what I want you to remember, as with any change, any habit that you’re trying to create, understand where and what those patterns currently are. 


Where are you actually precrastinating? Do you precrastinate at work? Do you precrastinate in your personal life? Or are there certain types of project or working with certain people that causes you to do things much sooner than they need to be done. And you can do this very easily by creating what I call a precrastination note on your phone or in your notebook. Write down the things where you tend to precrastinate as you do them, write them down, jot them down and start seeing the patterns in your daily life. And this way, you’ll have a much better lay of the land. And you’ll be in a much better place to tackle your precrastination habit. 


So let’s talk about how you can control this habit. The first one really is the same as precrastination is prioritizing your tasks. If you are able to jot down all your to dues, all your projects, and start prioritizing them, and connect them even to your longer range one year, three year or your five year goals. I think a lot of that will help alleviate some of this pressure and feeling that you have to do things sooner than needed. The second way that you can try is weighing the pros and cons of starting early. If you’ve got two presentations do at the same time, you can weigh out the pros and cons of doing one each at that moment in time and seeing which one actually has a lot more benefit in terms of efficiency and effectiveness when doing that one project. Another one is practicing emotional tolerance. 


Although precrastination takes many different forms, ultimately, it’s about the emotion. Whether it’s hoping for that little hit of satisfaction or dopamine that comes from crossing of that tiny to do list item or the alleviation of major anxiety. Precrastination is always about emotion. And that means working through precrastination will always involve working through difficult emotion. And the best way to do this is to slowly but systematically work to increase our emotional tolerance. 


A good analogy for this is think about the time that you started going to the gym. When we’re brand new at the gym, our tolerance for physical exertion is very less. When we are on the treadmill, we can barely run for five minutes. But as we start going to the gym more often, we tend to increase our endurance and our ability to handle physical exertion. Even for longer duration tent we are able to now handle physical exertion for longer periods of time. Similarly, emotional tolerance can be increased through regular practice, however, as humans tend to shy away From negative emotions, especially when we’re feeling tense, or we’re feeling stressed out about work, we tend to get away from the emotions as fast as possible. The idea here is that you need to work through that emotion. 


So the next time you’re feeling stressed about a task, and you’re just jumping in your seat to get that task done, take a moment, pause, and ask yourself, why you’re looking to get this task done so quickly. Sitting in that uncomfortable emotion for a minute is going to force you to think through it. And slowly, you’re going to be able to build up your emotional tolerance, so that you can actually power through negative emotions, especially that feeling of anxiety that pops up every so often. 


And the last item on my list on how you can avoid precrastination is by actually scheduling your tasks. If you are able to plan out your projects, a year in advance six months in advance, you’re going to have a lot more clarity on what needs to get done when on what particular tasks need to get done in what order. And that way, you’re not going to be jumping at your heels and getting things done sooner than they need to be. Or you’re not jumping ahead and queue and doing things just because you feel like doing them in that very moment. 


So seeing that connection to the bigger picture is going to be very helpful by simply scheduling your tasks, your projects and your to dues. So a quick recap on the four different ways that you can stop from precrastinating. Number one is prioritizing your tasks. Number two is weighing the pros and cons of starting your task early. 


Number three, practice emotional intelligence. And number four, scheduling your tasks and your projects. And the last one is scheduling your tasks and your projects in relation to your long term goals. I hope you enjoyed this episode. I will see you in the next one. Thank you and much love. And remember, if you like this episode, you can always send me a voice note by going to elevate it entrepreneur.fm/speak And send me your comments, your thoughts or your opinion, and tell me how good or how bad this episode was.


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