Think Education

Slow down, a bit

When you are given an assignment or a task, are you one of those rare souls who has to start on the job right away? Do you suffer from pangs of guilt every moment that you are not working on your project? Do you feel a sense of relief only when you have submitted it (even if it’s two weeks ahead of the deadline)? In that case, you are a pre-crastinator. Unlike the more banal procrastinator, pre-crastinators have to complete a task just to get it out of the way.

In an article published in Scientific American , in June 2015, psychologists David Rosenbaum and Edward Wasserman point out that pre-crastinators tend to clear their email inboxes immediately and pay their bills right away. While this seems highly efficient and tantalising to inveterate procrastinators who have trouble getting started on their ever-growing to-do lists, pre-crastination can also have its costs.


For example, you might regret responding to an accusatory email from your boss in the heat of the moment. When you reread your boss’ message and your response a couple of hours later, you feel that you may have overreacted. Perhaps, your boss wasn’t actually pointing a finger at you, but by shooting off a defensive reply, you have complicated matters further.

Likewise, when you shop for furniture for your apartment, you decide to buy the sofa in the store that is open on Sunday because you don’t have time during the week. But after a couple of months, when you visit another store, you feel you would have preferred the more comfortable couch on display. If only you had looked around before making an impulsive purchase!

Ironically, the tendency to pre-crastinate can also make you less productive, especially in this age of perennial digital distractions. If you are working on a report, and you hear your phone ping, can you desist the urge of not checking the message and replying right away? Some people find it a burden to keep things on their mental to-do lists and prefer checking off items even if it makes them less efficient. Ever wondered why your boss is not too pleased with you even though you submit projects well within the deadline and respond promptly to all emails?Perhaps, it is time to slow down and evaluate whether it is best for you to work on something right away or mull over it for a while.

Taking some time to plan your execution may actually make you more efficient in the long run. Even if you finish a project report well in advance, it might be prudent to set it aside for sometime. You may then revisit it a few days’ before it is due and appraise your work with fresh eyes. Only if you are satisfied with its quality and feel that you simply cannot improve it further, should you submit it.

The author is Director, PRAYATNA.

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Printable version | Sep 28, 2022 4:03:25 am |