Precrastination, Procrastination and Nocrastination

Overview 

We should be a bit of a precrastinator, a bit of a procrastinator, and should not ignore thoughts.

My proposition here is that we do not need to look for the precise moment in time when a job needs to be initiated, executed, or completed.

We should see every task as an evolving process from their infancy to maturity and termination. We should be a bit of a precrastinator, a bit of a procrastinator, and should not ignore the afterthoughts once the job is completed.

Precrastination, Procrastination and Nocrastination

There is no such thing as Nocrastination, I just made it up to indicate a habit of doing things the best possible way without being bogged down by artificial deadlines, whether self-imposed or imposed by others. This write-up is about how to achieve that by making use of the habits of procrastination and precrastination, and whatever else can be helpful.

We all know what procrastination is – an act of unnecessarily postponing decisions or actions. The word precrastination was coined by Rosenbaum in 2014 and it means doing jobs sooner than they really need to be done.

My proposition here is that we do not need to look for the precise moment in time when a job needs to be initiated, executed, or completed.

We should see every task as an evolving process from their infancy to maturity and termination. We should be a bit of a precrastinator, a bit of a procrastinator, and should not ignore the afterthoughts once the job is completed.

Let us examine the pros and cons of each of these different options.

Procrastination is often seen as negative because the job is not done at the right time. But we need to ask ourselves – who has decided the right time and on what basis? And did they have all the information needed to make that decision? With changed circumstances, one might realize it was good that the job was not done at the time pre-decided.

At times we decide to do the job at a particular time and when the time approaches, we change our mind. This change of mind may be related to several factors such as lack of willpower, poor motivation, anxiety, fear of failure, indecision related to not knowing which option is right, task aversion, etc. Procrastination may also result from our inability to precisely calculate the amount of time required for a particular task. We generally underestimate the time that may be required to complete a task. It can also result when we have only looked at the needs of our present self and have ignored that of our future selves.

However, there is a positive side to postponement as well. One may realize that when the plan was made the person deciding, self or someone else, was not fully aware of all the relevant information or it was just the conscious or cognitive mind that made that decision, and as the deadline approached, the unconscious mind, which is the more intelligent side of us, realized what the right time was and also the importance of other tasks that were competing with the task in question. At times we realize, with the passage of time, that there is no need to do the job, as the situation had changed and our input was not required.

Why people procrastinate

When we procrastinate, we often find that the most important job has remained undone, and we have done dozens of other jobs that were not so important – why this is so?

It may be that procrastination is an outcome of more intelligent processing that is happening in our unconscious mind, and it is negating the ill-thought-out planning done only by our conscious mind which was not in full contact with reality.

It may be because we want to finish small jobs that can be done quickly without much effort and will give instant satisfaction first. Scientific research also suggests that the reward center in the brain – the nucleus accumbens – is activated more strongly when we complete the less effortful task. The smaller the task quicker it finishes and gives a boost to our well-being, focusing on one thing we know we can accomplish in a few minutes. Dopamine, which is a brain chemical, is released on completion of the tasks we are confident of completing – texting a friend, loading laundry, sending that email, paying that bill online, etc. these little bursts of energy prepare us for the main job we have kept in abeyance.

It may also be that our unconscious mind is telling us that this unplanned job is more important than the pre-planned activity.

Precrastination:

It is normally anxiety-prone for people who tend to start early, worrying they will not have enough time to do it later, they arrive early for meetings and cannot free their minds from the pending tasks. They try to tackle sub-goals at the earliest opportunity – even at the expense of extra effort. Precrastination also helps them to free up their working memory if small jobs are done well ahead. We tend to start with the task that can be done as soon as possible.

Conclusion 

• Start every job early like a precrastinator, prepare an outline in your mind, park the ideas for a while, keep coming back to it, and finalize only at the last minute. For my presentations, I keep revising my PowerPoint slides until the morning of the presentation, as the best ideas come to my mind at the last minute only.

• During the incubation period your unconscious mind, which has a higher intelligence, starts working on it. The best ideas come to the mind at the last minute when one is emotionally and physiologically involved in preparing oneself for the job. Excellence demands a certain preoccupation with the problem and intensity which comes only at the last minute.

• Most of our tasks are not a single click activity but a process that gradually evolves from zero to completion with lots of creative elements and bits of information contributing at various stages.

• Every action demands motivation, investment of emotions, and energy, and it also demands clear-headedness (equanimity). The fuel comes from emotions and the direction comes from equanimity. These are two opposite attitudes and come at separate times. When your mind is emotionally charged you do brainstorming – and when your mind is equanimous and clear, you do short-listing and decision-making. It is a rare ability to do both simultaneously – allowing a part of the mind to experience the emotions in their totality, and keeping the other part of the mind equanimous.

• After the job is done, you realize it can be done better, no harm in contacting the person concerned and sharing your latest ideas with them – they will appreciate it and respect you for it.

So, the mantra is Start Early Finish in time, and go back to it to Follow-up.

There is no such thing as Nocrastination, I just made it up to indicate a habit of doing things the best possible way without being bogged down by artificial deadlines, whether self-imposed or imposed by others. This write-up is about how to achieve that by making use of the habits of procrastination and precrastination, and whatever else can be helpful.

We all know what procrastination is – an act of unnecessarily postponing decisions or actions. The word precrastination was coined by Rosenbaum in 2014 and it means doing jobs sooner than they really need to be done.

My proposition here is that we do not need to look for the precise moment in time when a job needs to be initiated, executed, or completed.

We should see every task as an evolving process from their infancy to maturity and termination. We should be a bit of a precrastinator, a bit of a procrastinator, and should not ignore the afterthoughts once the job is completed.

Let us examine the pros and cons of each of these different options.

Procrastination is often seen as negative because the job is not done at the right time. But we need to ask ourselves – who has decided the right time and on what basis? And did they have all the information needed to make that decision? With changed circumstances, one might realize it was good that the job was not done at the time pre-decided.

At times we decide to do the job at a particular time and when the time approaches, we change our mind. This change of mind may be related to several factors such as lack of willpower, poor motivation, anxiety, fear of failure, indecision related to not knowing which option is right, task aversion, etc. Procrastination may also result from our inability to precisely calculate the amount of time required for a particular task. We generally underestimate the time that may be required to complete a task. It can also result when we have only looked at the needs of our present self and have ignored that of our future selves.

However, there is a positive side to postponement as well. One may realize that when the plan was made the person deciding, self or someone else, was not fully aware of all the relevant information or it was just the conscious or cognitive mind that made that decision, and as the deadline approached, the unconscious mind, which is the more intelligent side of us, realized what the right time was and also the importance of other tasks that were competing with the task in question. At times we realize, with the passage of time, that there is no need to do the job, as the situation had changed and our input was not required.

Why people procrastinate

When we procrastinate, we often find that the most important job has remained undone, and we have done dozens of other jobs that were not so important – why this is so?

It may be that procrastination is an outcome of more intelligent processing that is happening in our unconscious mind, and it is negating the ill-thought-out planning done only by our conscious mind which was not in full contact with reality.

It may be because we want to finish small jobs that can be done quickly without much effort and will give instant satisfaction first. Scientific research also suggests that the reward center in the brain – the nucleus accumbens – is activated more strongly when we complete the less effortful task. The smaller the task quicker it finishes and gives a boost to our well-being, focusing on one thing we know we can accomplish in a few minutes. Dopamine, which is a brain chemical, is released on completion of the tasks we are confident of completing – texting a friend, loading laundry, sending that email, paying that bill online, etc. these little bursts of energy prepare us for the main job we have kept in abeyance.

It may also be that our unconscious mind is telling us that this unplanned job is more important than the pre-planned activity.

Precrastination:

It is normally anxiety-prone for people who tend to start early, worrying they will not have enough time to do it later, they arrive early for meetings and cannot free their minds from the pending tasks. They try to tackle sub-goals at the earliest opportunity – even at the expense of extra effort. Precrastination also helps them to free up their working memory if small jobs are done well ahead. We tend to start with the task that can be done as soon as possible.

Conclusion 

• Start every job early like a precrastinator, prepare an outline in your mind, park the ideas for a while, keep coming back to it, and finalize only at the last minute. For my presentations, I keep revising my PowerPoint slides until the morning of the presentation, as the best ideas come to my mind at the last minute only.

• During the incubation period your unconscious mind, which has a higher intelligence, starts working on it. The best ideas come to the mind at the last minute when one is emotionally and physiologically involved in preparing oneself for the job. Excellence demands a certain preoccupation with the problem and intensity which comes only at the last minute.

• Most of our tasks are not a single click activity but a process that gradually evolves from zero to completion with lots of creative elements and bits of information contributing at various stages.

• Every action demands motivation, investment of emotions, and energy, and it also demands clear-headedness (equanimity). The fuel comes from emotions and the direction comes from equanimity. These are two opposite attitudes and come at separate times. When your mind is emotionally charged you do brainstorming – and when your mind is equanimous and clear, you do short-listing and decision-making. It is a rare ability to do both simultaneously – allowing a part of the mind to experience the emotions in their totality, and keeping the other part of the mind equanimous.

• After the job is done, you realize it can be done better, no harm in contacting the person concerned and sharing your latest ideas with them – they will appreciate it and respect you for it.

So, the mantra is Start Early Finish in time, and go back to it to Follow-up.

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