Getting Ahead of Yourself: Pre-crastination Pitfalls

What is pre-crastination? As defined by the Penn State University researchers in their study (which you’ll see below):

“We define pre-crastination as the tendency to complete, or at least begin, tasks as soon as possible, even at the expense of extra physical effort"

Now to the actual study. A recent Harvard Business Review article covered this subject and the Penn State University study where researchers had 9 different buckets of varying weight and told their students to carry them down an alley to a marker. The catch? The heaviest buckets were closest to the start line. Surprisingly, as students ran through the test, researchers saw the heavy buckets picked more and more. After the tests were completed, the researchers asked each student why they chose the heavier bucket and they answered, “[I] wanted to get the task done sooner.” That’s when researchers suggested that “we desire the mental relief of getting a task done so much that we expend extra effort to get it done.”

So, how many of you pre-crastinate to get tasks done more quickly? Have you looked at relatively normal administrative duties and tried to rush them? And if so, what do you think the long-term payoff is?

Here’s one of many pre-crastination examples and the long-term problems with doing it.

Omitting Standard Email Salutations/Phrases
This isn’t about shortening the amount of content in your work emails; it’s about scrapping email salutations and key phrases. Going from this:

Hi Sally,

When you get a chance, I need a copy of last week’s sales data for this presentation.



To this:

I need a copy of last week’s sales data for this presentation.

Which one of those emails might mistakenly strike the wrong note with someone in the office? It’s not apparent at first, but if the latter, more abbreviated email becomes the norm to Sally, that email tone can come off negatively, causing unneeded time focused on whether that email was lifeless in its delivery, whether they did something wrong to offend the sender, etc. And research already proves we read emails differently to begin with, so by omitting key (emotionally, anyway) structures of an email to save time, it will have an adverse effect soon enough.

There are plenty of cases where pre-crastination at work is great, like tightening up meetings, for example; however, don’t get ahead of yourself on other things, like the email omissions above. You will open yourself up to negative ripple effects and errors. Besides, would you leave out greetings/salutations and other warm, inviting phrases on an email you’re sending to a client or prospect?

Create time-efficient routines that are productive, but most of all, make sure they are done right.

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