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Pre-Crastination or Hastening Subgoal Completion

Roy LIECHTENSTEIN - In the Car, art, insight, coaching
Roy LIECHTENSTEIN – In the Car, 1963 – Huile et magna sur toile, 172 cm × 203.5 cm


Getting tasks done. Fast, quickly, even if this this not mandatory such as answering emails the second they land in your inbox without taking time to put things into perspective, or paying bills when they arrive… without checking them. In one word: pre-crastination.

This tendency to delay initiating or completing tasks involves both practical and psychological implications like multitasking, unfinishing tasks, stress, tiredness and even the feeling to be ineffective. Mirroring pro-crastination, it is a reaction towards something that we dislike, something potentially generating anxiety. With a significant difference though: in a working environment it is commonly endorsed by hierarchy, which makes its negative consequences less visible.

For some it is the symptom of our harried lives, for others it simply is the search for efficacy.

For psychologists it is related with « Please Others » one of the five drivers originally identified in the field of Transactional Analysis by Taibi Kahler, inducing a confusion between the speed of execution and the quality of the output.

And what is researchers point of view? A study carried out in 2014 by David A. Rosenbaum ascribe pre-crastination to the desire to reduce working memory loads. A study from 2015 by Edward A. Wasserman shows pre-crastination in animals meaning that this behaviour would not be a kind of ‘human pathology’.

Let’s keep in mind that pre-crastination and pro-crastination are not exclusive. Indeed, a same individual can show one or both behavioural attitudes to varying degrees, with more or less control. And remedial action, deep reflection or simply awareness are the routes to follow as from the moment when anxiety, loss of balance or discomfort are felt.

By the way, do you pre-crastinate?


Sources: Psychological Science, Psychoomic Bulletin & Review, Scientific American


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