Do you procrastinate or precrastinate?
You are familiar with the tendency to put off for later things that need to be done now; we usually refer to it as procrastination. We know that we usually tend to stress about these things, and when the tension becomes unbearable, we might finally decide to do something about it. We might write that assignment the night before or submit our tax return just in time to avoid the penalty. You might not be happy about it and promise to change for the better. But the reality is that you might continue procrastinating until the last minute of the next deadline.
What if I were to tell you that there is something called “precrastination”, which can be described as a tendency to do things as soon as possible, and is also known as the “mere-urgency effect”. If you see a person who is aiming to take all the grocery bags inside from their car in one go, even if they are struggling and there is no need for it, they are more than likely precrastinating.
This phenomenom deserves our attention not only because it focuses on our tendency to be in a hurry to get things done, but because it reduces cognitive demands. This can be viewed as our desire to unload our memory as soon as possible, so we don’t need to keep it in mind; as soon as the task is completed we can move on from it without thinking about it any longer.
What is interesting is that this phenomenon is observed not only in humans but in animals as well. It has been suggested that the drive to act quickly may optimize foraging. Some trials with pigeons were able to observe precrastinators in these birds. So the authors of the paper “Sooner rather than later: Precrastiantion rather than procrastination” are asking a number of questions for us to consider. For example, is fast industry a reflection of precrastination? Are there any disadvantages when we precrastiante? Is it better to sometimes procrastinate than precrastiante?
What about you? Do you procrastinate or precrastinate? Do you tend to do all your chores as soon as possible so you don’t have to think about them anymore, or do you tend to leave them while you are updating your Instagram selfie?
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Source: Rosenbaum, D. A., Fournier, L. R., Levy-Tzedek, S., McBride, D. M., Rosenthal, R., Sauerberger, K., … & Zentall, T. R. (2019). Sooner rather than later: Precrastination rather than procrastination. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 0963721419833652.