Precrastination vs. Planning

Monday, March 20, 2017

Over at Fast Track, I have learned of a new word, precrastination. The post there is a round-up that also points to a post on the benefits of procrastination, although it is debatable that putting things off always deserves to be called procrastination.

Semantics aside, the first two items in the list do a good job of highlighting a common theme, which is that how far in advance one performs a task is much less important than thinking it through. Regarding "procrastination," the author notes:

... Procrastination can also cut out unnecessary work if things change between the time work is assigned and the time it's due; can give your ideas time to percolate and improve; and can lead to higher quality, better thought out work. If you're not convinced, [Larry Kim] also points out that in ancient Greece and Rome, procrastination was highly regarded; you were thought to clearly be a leader if you had time to think things over and refrain from acting until you had fully thought out a decision. [bold added]
This theme is reinforced by the commentary on precrastination:
... Bob Pothier writes in Inc. that you might be a pre-crastinator if you reply right away to emails about problems rather than waiting until you've thought it through; if you start on major assignments right away rather than waiting; and even if you start buying holiday gifts before Thanksgiving. The issue, of course, is that jumping on things immediately isn't always good; waiting to answer an email until you have time to think, for example, can lead to a better answer. Pothier argues that waiting is especially important when a project requires creativity of innovation... [links in original, bold added, format edits]
I have always hated to be rushed, particularly at the start of complicated projects or those likely to change in scope. Both situations make it hard to prioritize and require the kind of thinking that simply can't be goaded. I think the two items together are useful for thinking about when to start projects generally, as well as making oneself ready to counter the rash urgings of the precrastinators in one's life.

-- CAV

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