Photographed by Julia Lola Wang.
Do you scoff as you sit back watching your serial scramble-at-the-last-minute friends as they rush to meet a deadline or pack minutes before that weeklong vacation you planned together months ago? Ha, procrastinators — you know better. But, what if you do the opposite: rush through a task because you’re anxious to get it off your plate as soon as possible. If so, you may be a precrastinator (yes, that’s an e not an o) — and it might be just as bad as procrastinating.
In a study from Psychological Science , 27 students were asked to carry one of two buckets filled with pennies to the end of an alleyway. The popular choice of bucket? The one closer to the student, yet farther from the finish line, which ultimately required the participants to put forth more physical effort, notes Shape. The reason why is along the lines of “I wanted to get the task done as soon as I could.” Sound familiar? The researchers found that by just grabbing a bucket ASAP, the subjects felt less dread over it, making it feel like the main goal was closer to completion, even though it meant carrying the bucket farther. The psychologists say that this is one way of handling unpleasant experiences in life — get it over with quickly — with the flipside being avoiding it as long as possible.
So, maybe you aren’t dragging buckets of change down alleyways, but the takeaway still applies: Rushing through tasks just to get them over with can lead to careless results, and potentially even more work in the end when you need to fix sloppy mistakes. For example, hastily folding your laundry and shoving into your drawers only to deal with an overflowing mess the next morning. The way to combat the temptation to precrastinate is to spend a little extra time up front to do things correctly, so you only have to do them once. Geez, Mom, we get it, you’re always right.