I am. Researchers at Penn State have identified what I would suggest is a modern coping phenomenon – hurrying to get something done so we can cross the task off our mental to-do list, even if doing so is non-productive.

pre-crastinating Sarah Wilson
Image via Jack Shainman Gallery

They call it pre-crastinating and they suggest those of us who do it, do so to offload “working memory”. That is, we plough through something just to reduce the number of things we have to remember to do.

My main pre-crastinating activity is attending to email each day rather than prioritising the more important tasks. I can get totally caught up in cleaning out my inbox. Ditto social media fussing. As I fuss and tend I convince myself I’m getting shit done. I convince myself I’m in control. And I’m validated.

But it’s an illusion. It’s like trying to plug a dyke with your thumb. Except it’s worse. Your thumb-plugging is creating more holes for more email pings, more input, more distractions and more frenetic-ness to come in.

Emails beget more emails. I’ve written about the non-productivity of this before. Also, going down the fussy rabbit hole of social media and emails takes up so much energy…leaving you creatively spent and uninspired for the important stuff.

These days I’m resolving to observe my pre-crastinating. And boldly put blinkers up to the mental to-do list…favouring the important stuff instead.

Are you a pre-crastinator as well? How do you focus?

Have your say, leave a comment.

  • mw

    Gymnopedie 1 .. Erik Satie .. for cleaning out your inbox

    • Daniel L

      Ha, this is good. Thank you Mike!

  • I will occasionally look at my written to do list and see that I have not completed anything. So I add a couple of things that I have done. And immediately cross them off. Is there a word for that behaviour?

  • Vicki Simpson

    Guilty your honour.

  • Paula Vertz Dron

    Guilty! I prioritise my list then set my timer for 30 minute slots.

  • Bec

    Guilty. I found it better to turn off email notifications and have set times during the day where I deal with emails. Written to-do lists are the other thing that helps. I get the same “high” from crossing things off as I do from dealing with a quick email or busy task.

  • Sophie

    YES!!!! Totally me. When I can sense that I’m doing this I refer back to some strategies a business coach recommended to our work team yonks ago. *Have ONE main super important goal that needs to be completed on the particular day rather than writing a HUGE to do list with unimportant ‘usual’ stuff.
    * Pick your peak time: Know when is the best time throughout the day you are most productive to schedule in that important goal and get achieving!