The Creative Life website has this picture at the top of a useful article that offers readers seventeen strategies to stop procrastinating. I found the article even though the word I typed into my search bar was precrastinate–Google didn't acknowledge my word until I put the quotation marks around it.
When I did wrap the letters in the embrace of inverted commas, I found lots of articles about how precrastination, doing things right away, is often worse than putting them off. Of course, since that idea directly contradicts the point of my post, I'm going to do what all carefully considered thinkers do, ignore it.
We all know many of the problems that come with delaying our work:
- We don't get it done.
- We have to race though it and therefore don't do a great job.
- Something else comes up at the last minute, so the time we were planning to do the work isn't available.
- We feel guilty, tired, ashamed, and panicked, all of which make doing the work too difficult.
If I paid attention to the article about the dangers of racing into tasks, I probably would learn a thing or two about making extra work for myself before I knew the whole lay of the landscape. However, I'd like to focus on the advantages of checking things off my to-do list and adding them to my ta-da list. (If you read those two earlier posts, please don't forget to come back to this one.)
I have two main arguments for precrastination. First, my mind doesn't work super fast. I think it's a perfectly good mind at its own pace, but I'm not winning any speed-thinking contests. If I work on a project, allowing myself as much time as I need, I can often produce a good result. Further, if I work on a project way in advance and then take time away from it, when I go back to review and revise and edit my efforts, I end up with a significantly better final product than I would if I completed everything in one sitting. (For example, while I'm not holding this post up as the great American novel, I was able to produce it as it is now, a result that pleases me, only because I wrote a first draft back in April and revised it earlier this week.)
Second, my mind holds on to what's incomplete. If I don't get something done, it hangs, gray-cloudlike over my being until I complete the task. When I have these mood-killers hovering over me, I can't focus all of my attention on anything else. By completing tasks, I can move on to offer my full attention to whatever I face. Again, I'm not holding my full attention out as the pinnacle of greatness, but I can vouch that it is more effective than my inattention or my divided attention. Getting things done helps calm my brain into submission.
Maybe I should go read the articles about why not to race into work, but for now, I'm going to stick to my belief in getting stuff done. (I'm often more proud of my GSD initials than of any of the degrees I've earned.) Where do you fall on the precrastination to procrastination continuum? Does anyone reading this know how to attain a happy middle ground, doing jobs in that sweet spot on the clock when you haven't raced or delayed? I'd love to read your thoughts in the comments.