What Is Precrastination with an "E" & How to Overcome It? The Complete Guide for Students (2023)

Have you finally beaten procrastination? Have you stopped doing compulsive cleaning instead of exam preparation? Do you answer your professor’s emails immediately, even if you are at the bar with friends? Congratulations, you’re in the precrastination trap!

What Is Precrastination with an "E" & How to Overcome It? The Complete Guide for Students (1)

Why is precrastination a big deal?

Although it’s sometimes considered as the opposite of procrastination, it can also interrupt your work-life balance, just like the habit of postponing tasks until the last moment. Precrastination often results in negative outcomes and might compromise your academic achievements as a student.

Read on to find out more about precrastination and learn effective tips to overcome it.

Table of contents

  1. 🐝 Defining Precrastination
  2. 🤔 Is It a Big Deal?
  3. ⏰ Why Do We Precrastinate?
  4. 🆚 Precrastination Vs. Procrastination
  5. 🛀 7 Ways to Overcome Precrastination
  6. 🔗 References

🐝 Defining Precrastination

What is precrastination?

Precrastination, also written as pre-crastination, is the compulsion to complete tasks quickly, even if the outcome is inefficient or has long-term costs.

This occurs when a person rushes to work on an assignment without having all information needed for its proper planning and execution. Thus, they end up putting in extra effort and doing a poor job.

(Video) How to Avoid Procrastination: A Complete Guide

Let’s explore examples of precrastination to help you understand the concept better:

One case is when a learner rushes to complete an assignment or turns in a paper as soon as the teacher assigns the work. The student begins the assignment without planning, researching, or editing, and ends up with a poor grade despite the effort and time they invested in the process. A student who frequently repeats this action is called a precrastinator.

Another example is reading your emails first thing in the morning after getting to the office instead of settling in and prioritizing your schedule. Do you check your smartphone every time an alert pops up rather than reserving a time slot in your working schedule to read all your messages together? These are also instances of precrastination that distract you from core tasks and worsen your productivity.

In addition, you might interrupt someone during a conversation instead of waiting for your turn to respond. Precrastination also happens when you launch a product in the market without testing if it will function first.

The Bucket Research

According to the 2014 Bucket research by David Rosenbaum and colleagues at Pennsylvania State University, many people decide to start assigned jobs as soon as possible to get them off their to-do list, even if it takes more time and effort in the long run.

What Is Precrastination with an "E" & How to Overcome It? The Complete Guide for Students (2)

The researchers placed two buckets at different locations – one was at the start of an alley, while the other one was placed closer to its end. The participants were then instructed to choose one bucket and carry it to the end of the alley. During the experiment, most participants picked the bucket closer to them, which meant carrying a bucket for a longer distance and applying more physical effort.

But the bucket that was placed farther away was usually not chosen by the participants, even though picking it involved less effort to carry it for a shorter distance.

Therefore, the results showed that many study participants tend to procrastinate, picking a bucket closer to them in an effort to start the task as soon as possible.

The participants were less concerned about the physical effort and distance they would need to carry the bucket to the drop-off point because starting the task earlier subconsciously meant ending the task earlier (although that was not the case). Rosenbaum’s research formed the basis of the term precrastination.

🤔 Is Precrastination a Big Deal?

Precrastination might give people short-term satisfaction because of a sense of progress. However, as a result, there is no time to think deeply about the task and the execution process. Rushing to complete the task might have repercussions due to distractions and a lack of focus.

When precrastinating, you experience higher anxiety levels because you want to make progress quickly. This urge causes you to jump straight to the task without giving yourself time to plan and analyze. Ultimately, you will make bad decisions, lower your efficiency, and have a worse outcome.

Conversely, precrastination may have benefits like freeing up mental resources and giving short-term fulfillment. But despite these perks, it results in the poor prioritization of tasks and negative results in most cases.

(Video) Why you procrastinate even when it feels bad

⏰ Why Do We Precrastinate?

If precrastination has potential dangers, then why do people do it? There are reasons behind rushing to complete tasks quickly.

What Is Precrastination with an "E" & How to Overcome It? The Complete Guide for Students (3)

Let us explore the potential causes of precrastination.

Better outcomesStarting to work on an assigned task early often leads to better results. This usually happens when delaying the task will result in more problems than starting it early, even if the outcome is negative. For instance, starting your academic assignment early without adequate research can cause bad grades, but starting late might lead to missed deadlines and penalties. Thus, many learners would rather precrastinate and complete the paper quickly.
Free mental resourcesWhen you think about your assignments and deadlines, you experience cognitive load. If you delay working on your paper, you will endure a high cognitive load associated with keeping your assignment in your working memory. Precrastination frees up your mental resources by immediately pushing you to start your assignment.
Short-term satisfactionMany people try to complete as many tasks as possible on their to-do lists without thinking of quality. This approach leads to a feeling of short-term satisfaction and progress. For example, when you rush through your research paper to submit it early without taking the time to brainstorm and plan your arguments, you will enjoy a temporary feeling of accomplishment due to completing your paper. However, the results may be less than pleasing because of your substandard work.
Lower anxietyPrecrastination reduces anxiety since you don’t have to worry about your complex assignment for a long time. Once your teacher assigns the task, you are already working on it and don’t have time for concerns and hesitations.

🆚 Is Pre-crastination Really the Opposite of Procrastination?

What is the opposite of procrastination? Is precrastination really the opposite of procrastination?

Procrastination is a well-researched phenomenon that entails postponing tasks and rushing to complete them very close to the deadline. In contrast, precrastination is a recent discovery that entails completing tasks too early. Thus, precrastination can be considered the opposite of procrastination.

However, recent studies suggest that precrastination is much more than the opposite of procrastination and has a deeper connection to people’s primary personality traits.

Procrastination Vs. Precrastination

  1. Both precrastination and procrastination are linked to conscientiousness, but in the opposite way. Conscientiousness is a personality trait of organized and focused people. In a nutshell, a more conscientious individual has a higher chance of precrastinating, while a less conscientious one will procrastinate.
  2. Another difference is that precrastination is not connected to impulsivity, while procrastination is typical among impulsive individuals.
  3. Moreover, procrastination has a long history since the term has been used since the 1500s, while precrastination is a new term that has been studied for less than ten years.

Still, regardless of their differences, both actions are considered maladaptive since they result in negative outcomes. That said, precrastination may also be regarded as a form of procrastination.

🛀 7 Ways to Overcome Precrastination

The first step to overcoming precrastination is to become aware of why, how, and when you precrastinate.

Once you figure out the reasons for this behavior and follow the approach below, you will stop rushing to complete your tasks too early.

What Is Precrastination with an "E" & How to Overcome It? The Complete Guide for Students (4)

1. Set Your Priorities

Getting your priorities straight often results in proper organization and helps you to develop a flowing routine. It is essential to set realistic goals that you are likely to attain, hence ensuring productivity and overall success. You should also place important tasks at the foundation of your commitment.

So, how do you set your priorities?

(Video) How to Overcome Procrastination | Brian Tracy

First, you must create a list to help you maintain the proper perspective. This list will determine which tasks are necessary and which are unnecessary.

For instance, urgent assignments will be on top of the list, and you should complete them first. Besides, knowing your priorities will prevent you from being overwhelmed with the cognitive load of keeping your assignments in mind.

It would help if you determined which parts of the day would be productive and started working on the most challenging assignments first. Plan and create a realistic timeline to guide your writing process. Remember to limit distractions that might affect your focus while completing your tasks.

2. Don’t Overload Yourself

You might encounter work overload when you have limited time and resources to complete particular tasks. How can you avoid overloading yourself with too much work? Here are a few tips to consider:

  • Don’t accept unnecessary tasks. You can overload yourself if you try to accomplish every task that comes your way. The trick lies in understanding what is important and avoiding everything that is unnecessary.
  • Take small breaks. Taking breaks during your work period is vital for rejuvenating your focus. Working without breaks is detrimental to your physical and mental health. It might cause you to suffer from burnout and mental exhaustion.
  • Delegate tasks. Delegating tasks reduces work overload and increases productivity. Assign simple tasks to other people so that you can avoid overworking yourself.
  • Decline new tasks. When your plate is full, learn to say no to new tasks. Prioritize completing the tasks on hand before committing to new requests.

3. Schedule Your Work Tasks

Scheduling your work is extremely important since it affects your time management skills. Plan your work to maximize productivity and efficiency while reducing stress. Find a suitable way to schedule your tasks on paper or in an app planner.

Here are several ways you can prepare a workable schedule:

Determine your available timeIt is imperative to decide when you are available to work and to stick within those time limits. Planning your time for work guarantees efficiency and prevents overworking.
Schedule high-priority tasksStart tackling your assignments with the most important and highly prioritized ones first to reduce the risk of getting distracted on smaller tasks. Moreover, establish your productive hours – morning, evening, or night – depending on your individual biorhythm.
Create room for contingenciesYou never know when you might encounter an emergency and require a contingency plan. So, ensure you plan extra time to cover such situations. Reserve time to communicate your delays through calls, work emails, or face-to-face meetings. You can set aside specific time slots during the day to communicate issues that have come up and handle them without panic.

4. Look for Your Work-Life Balance

Maintaining a healthy work-life balance might seem elusive for many people. Still, it is an important approach that helps reduce stress and increase productivity levels in the long run. The bitter truth is that both procrastination and precrastination eat away at your time and prevent a healthy work-life balance.

How can you achieve harmony then?

The first step is to accept that there is no perfect work-life balance. It is impossible to attain perfection, so you must be realistic and flexible.

Ensure you evaluate your priorities continuously to achieve a balance. Avoid striving for perfection and do what you love to feel fulfilled at the end of the day.

(Video) Strategies to overcome procrastination

Moreover, it’s essential to prioritize your general health to become more productive. It is vital to create ‘me time‘ for yourself to relax and enjoy non-work activities. Struggling with anxiety and burnout might result in severe health consequences. Thus, take a break or a vacation and spend time with yourself to rejuvenate and maintain a great balance.

Finally, set boundaries and schedule your work hours to prevent overworking yourself. Factor in your priorities and do away with unnecessary tasks that don’t add value.

5. Overcome Your Fear of Making Mistakes

Many people precrastinate because of the fear of making mistakes and not catching up. While it might seem like compulsive behavior, you can get better at dealing with fearful thoughts with practice.

Don’t be scared or ashamed of your mistakes. Use these errors as lessons to become a better decision-maker.

Focus on the positive side of this fear and broaden your perspective to reach more effective solutions.

6. Expand Your Awareness

Self-awareness is paramount if you want to change a habit. Thus, the first step is to recognize that you’re a precrastinator.

Ask yourself why, when, and how you precrastinate. Focus on the impact of your actions and their relationship with your priorities.

Keep in mind that precrastination often leads to stress, poor decision-making, and low productivity levels. Consequently, these symptoms are consequences of information overload and are detrimental to your physical and mental health. Therefore, becoming aware of the habit will help you to avoid these negative consequences.

7. Practice Mindfulness

Practicing mindfulness is another way of overcoming precrastination. There are several mindfulness techniques you can use to ease stress and focus on important tasks:

  • STOP technique. You can use this practice at any time when you are stressed or overwhelmed: S – Stop, T – Take a breath, O – Observe, P – Proceed.
  • Breathing exercises. Intentional breathing helps you to be mindful of your current situation. Deep breathing results in calmness and restores your focus. Other breathing exercises include resonance breathing and alternate-nose breathing.
  • Physical exercises. Another way of balancing your mental health is to engage in physical exercise. You can take a walk, go to the gym, practice yoga, or dance. Whatever activity you choose, exercising will release stress and restore your mind to a peaceful state.

Ultimately, overcoming the habit of precrastination requires you to change how you do things.

The first step is establishing why, how, and when you choose to precrastinate.

Follow the abovementioned techniques, and you will become a better decision-maker and complete your tasks within a scheduled time and after adequate preparation. Please share this article with your friends who also precrastinate to help them improve their lives!

(Video) How to Take Control Of Your Life │ Full Procrastination Protocol

🔗 References

  1. Precrastination: When the Early Bird Gets the Shaft
  2. Pre-Crastination: The Opposite of Procrastination
  3. How to be more efficient: stop ‘precrastinating’ – BBC Worklife
  4. Now Is Not the Time for Precrastination
  5. Precrastination: Worse Than Procrastination? – The Atlantic
  6. Study finds some people finish difficult tasks first – Penn State


What is procrastination and how do you overcome it? ›

Procrastination is the habit of delaying an important task, usually by focusing on less urgent, more enjoyable, and easier activities instead. It is different from laziness, which is the unwillingness to act.

How students can overcome procrastination? ›

The seven tips below teach you how to stop procrastinating once and for all.
  1. Keep Track of Deadlines. Knowing your deadlines can help you create a healthy habit of planning ahead. ...
  2. Start Small. Why do people procrastinate? ...
  3. Know When You Work Best. ...
  4. Set Milestones. ...
  5. Avoid Distractions. ...
  6. Build in Breaks. ...
  7. Reward Yourself.

What is procrastination to students? ›

So, procrastination etymologically means putting off something until tomorrow, a tomorrow that is usually less defined. Every student one time or another has been a victim of procrastination, that urge to eschew studying and postpone writing those essays for another day.

What is the real meaning of procrastination? ›

: to be slow or late about doing something that should be done : to delay doing something until a later time because you do not want to do it, because you are lazy, etc. He procrastinated and missed the submission deadline.

What is the best solution for procrastination? ›

Procrastination Solutions
  • Take control of your study environment - study in a place that is free from distractions.
  • Make a "TO DO" list.
  • Establish a routine.
  • Self-bribery - give yourself rewards. ...
  • Divide and Conquer - break larger tasks into smaller units - thereby eliminating how daunting the task seems.

What are the six steps to overcome procrastination? ›

Six Steps to Overcome Procrastionation
  1. Recognize When You Are Procrastinating.
  2. Devote Time to the Task.
  3. Break the Task into Manageable Steps.
  4. Embrace Imperfection.
  5. Give Yourself a Deadline.
  6. Reward Yourself.
Jan 9, 2020

How do you overcome procrastination or lack of motivation to study? ›

Plan your study time in “shifts” of time, from 15 minutes to two hours, with good rest breaks in between. Start and finish your shifts on time to increase your motivation to start the next shift! Every shift, no matter how small, gets Page 2 Page 2 of 2 Procrastination and motivation you closer to your goal!

What are 3 solutions to procrastination? ›

All photos courtesy of the individual member.
  • Find Your Flow And Stay In It. ...
  • Don't Multitask. ...
  • Develop Routines And Discipline. ...
  • Take On Slices Of A Job. ...
  • Get An 'Accountability Buddy' ...
  • Reflect On Stolen Time. ...
  • Discover Why You Are Procrastinating. ...
  • Focus On Your Top Three Priorities.
Apr 13, 2017

How procrastination affects students? ›

For students, procrastination is associated with a wide range of academic issues, such as worse exam scores, worse grades, having to repeat assignments, increased course failures, increased course withdrawals, longer study duration, and an increased likelihood of dropping out (rather than graduating).

What is the main cause of procrastination? ›

The issue can be linked to depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, ADHD, and poor study habits. Procrastination is connected to negative functioning and risks to mental health. People who procrastinate tend to have high levels of anxiety as well as poor impulse control. Procrastination is even linked to physical illness.

How can teachers help students with procrastination? ›

Here are some tips that can help your students become more active and stop procrastinating:
  1. Create Meaningful Projects For Students. ...
  2. Break The Project Into Minor Tasks. ...
  3. Give Them Clear Instructions. ...
  4. Set Deadlines And Remind Students About It. ...
  5. Teach Students Management Skills. ...
  6. Reward Students For Completing Tasks.
Apr 23, 2022

What are the 4 types of procrastination? ›

They say that there are four main types of avoidance archetypes, or procrastinators: the performer, the self-deprecator, the overbooker, and the novelty seeker. Figuring out which group you're in can help you break out of your procrastination patterns — and maybe even turn in something early.

Why is procrastination a problem? ›

We procrastinate when we know what to do, but put off doing it until later. This can lead to feelings of anxiety and guilt. It can also leave us feeling unproductive, lazy, and ineffectual. In others words, it can affect the way we feel about ourselves.

How can I overcome procrastination for free? ›

Here are the promised tips that'll help you overcome procrastination and get stuff done.
  1. Make a To-Do List (And Keep It Short) ...
  2. Set Deadlines for Each Task. ...
  3. Start With the Most Important Tasks (Big Rocks) ...
  4. Focus On One Task at a Time. ...
  5. Use Focus-Boosting Tools. ...
  6. Optimize Your Workflow. ...
  7. Be Honest With Yourself and Take Action.

What are the 3 most common types of procrastination? ›

But in reality, there are three types of procrastination: classic procrastination, creative avoidance, and priority dilution. It can be difficult to pinpoint what type you're experiencing because sometimes the different types of procrastination are mixed together.

Why is it so hard to overcome procrastination? ›

The act of procrastination creates a sense of immediate gratification. Think about the feeling you get when you let yourself off the hook. You know you have a deadline; it is on your mind, but the second you tell yourself “later, tomorrow, or next week,” you feel a rush of relief (one kind of chemical response).

What is the most common form of procrastination? ›

The 3 Main Types of Procrastinators, According to Psychology
  1. The Avoider. You put things off just because they make you feel bad, whether the specific emotion is anxiety, boredom, overwhelmedness, or sadness. ...
  2. The Optimist. ...
  3. The Pleasure Seeker.
Nov 27, 2018

How can a student avoid procrastinating essay? ›

One way to stop procrastinating is to break down the dreaded task into little steps. If the work or the task is too overwhelming, we tend to procrastinate about it. But if the job is broken down, then we can tackle one step at a time without being overwhelmed.

What are the four simple reasons for procrastination? ›

Procrastination is a complex phenomenon with four primary factors that contribute to it: low self-efficacy, low task value, high impulsiveness and distraction, and a long delay between task onset and completion.

What is the difference between procrastination and laziness? ›

Procrastination and laziness are two different concepts: procrastination involves delaying unnecessarily, whereas laziness involves being voluntarily unwilling to exert necessary effort.

Why do students need to stop procrastinating? ›

In terms of academic performance, procrastination can lead to various issues, including worse exam scores, worse grades, more course failures, and more course withdrawals. Many of these issues can be attributed to issues that procrastination causes in terms of time management.

What are the two main types of procrastination? ›

Active and passive procrastination

For example, an active procrastinator might postpone tasks until right before the deadline, because doing so helps them perform better, whereas a passive procrastinator might postpone tasks for so long that they miss deadlines, because they feel anxious.

What is the 2 min rule of procrastination? ›

The two-minute rule aims to banish procrastination and help people accomplish small tasks. Here's what the rule says: if you can do an action in two minutes or less, tackle it at the moment — and don't delay. This has the potential to deliver long-term benefits.

What is the 5 minute procrastination trick? ›

The five-minute rule is a cognitive-behavioral technique that is designed to help you overcome procrastination to become more productive. Essentially, all you need to do is commit to spending just five minutes on whatever it is you're procrastinating, after which you're free to stop if you want.

Is procrastination a symptom of ADHD? ›

Although there is no direct relationship between ADHD and procrastination, some of the symptoms of ADHD can lead an individual to procrastinate. Procrastination is not a symptom specific to ADHD. That said, people with ADHD do commonly experience it due to the other symptoms of the condition.

Is procrastination a form of depression? ›

Procrastination isn't one of the formal symptoms of depression. But it could be related to some of them. “Procrastination is a behavior, whereas depression is a clinical diagnosis,” says Lauren Debiec, a therapist in Kailua Kona, Hawaii.

How procrastination ruined my life? ›

Procrastination feels better in the short term, but usually makes you feel worse in the long run by way of missed deadlines, failed promises to both others and yourself, unreliability, and many other consequences. The temporary bliss we feel from procrastinating is far outweighed by its long term effects on our lives.

What is an example of procrastination? ›

The following are common signs of procrastination: Repeatedly saying things like “I'll do it later” or “I'll do it tomorrow”. Getting stuck in neutral even though you know how important it is to get started. Taking a long time to complete things that require little except sitting down and doing them.

Is lazy and procrastination the same thing? ›

Procrastination and laziness are two different concepts: procrastination involves delaying unnecessarily, whereas laziness involves being voluntarily unwilling to exert necessary effort.

What are the main causes of students procrastination? ›

Common issues that lead to student procrastination include abstract goals, feeling overwhelmed, perfectionism, fear of failure, task aversion, resentment, a problematic work environment, and sensation seeking.

What are the three main causes of procrastination? ›

There are a number of reasons why you may procrastinate.
  • Feeling Bored. It makes sense that if you perceive an activity as boring or unpleasant, you're far more likely to put it off until later.
  • Lack of Belief in Your Abilities. Another reason you may procrastinate? ...
  • Fear and Anxiety. ...
  • Perfectionism. ...
  • Distraction.
Dec 4, 2022

What are the three 3 benefits of overcoming procrastination? ›

What are the benefits of overcoming procrastination? Peace of mind, a feeling of strength and purpose, and healthy feeling of being in charge of your life. While procrastination makes you feel weak, useless, and helpless, taking charge of your life will make you feel strong, competent, and capable.

What are three signs of procrastination? ›

Signs and symptoms of procrastination

Postponing things you don't want to do (e.g., boring or frustrating tasks). Struggling to get started even if you hate yourself for it. Waiting until the last minute before deadlines to get started. Putting off making decisions for too long.

What are the most common examples of procrastination? ›

For example, an employee is procrastinating when they delay working on a task. They know it demands their time and is an integral component of a large-scale initiative. The team is counting on them to meet the deadline. But they wait until a few days or hours before it's due to even start.

Is procrastination a form of ADHD? ›

Although there is no direct relationship between ADHD and procrastination, some of the symptoms of ADHD can lead an individual to procrastinate. Procrastination is not a symptom specific to ADHD. That said, people with ADHD do commonly experience it due to the other symptoms of the condition.

Is procrastination just anxiety? ›

Procrastination is the result of avoidance, and both the result of and driver of anxiety. Anxiety associated with procrastination continues to fester and grows over time. Anxiety can become so uncomfortable that we seek relief for it, hoping there is some better way to tolerate things left undone.

Is procrastination a habit of ADHD? ›

A 2014 study showed that there's a correlation between inattention and procrastination. Because they can't focus on tasks they don't engage deeply with for a long time, people with ADHD tend to put off or avoid some duties. Procrastination is not a symptom but a consequence of ADHD.


1. The #1 way to stop procrastinating
(Justin Sung)
2. Self Worth Theory: The Key to Understanding & Overcoming Procrastination | Nic Voge | TEDxPrincetonU
(TEDx Talks)
3. The ONLY way to stop procrastinating | Mel Robbins
(Mel Robbins)
4. How I Beat Procrastination (The Easy Way)
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5. How to Beat Procrastination
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6. Stop Procrastinating for Good: The Ultimate Guide to Overcoming Resistance and Getting Things Done
(Motivation Refill)


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