The Midnight Oil

No, that’s not a typo.

In discussing all of the life hacks and tips to boost productivity, the topic of perpetual procrastination inevitably rears its ugly head. And we already know that the bottomless pit of the Internet is full of distractions, constantly tempting us away from what we should be doing today. But what about when you’re feeling particularly keen and want to get a head-start on what needs to be done tomorrow? That’s where precrastination can enter the conversation.

The Notion of Precrastination

One of the most common strategies for staying on task and keeping organized is to have a to-do list. At the beginning of each week, I typically lay out what needs to be done. This list is further broken down into daily to-do lists that I put together each evening before retiring for the night. When I wake up in the morning, I can jump right into the thick of things.

At least, that’s the idea.

With procrastination, you put things off until later. With precrastination, you do things now that probably could wait until later. And perhaps it is because I was raised with a respectable work ethic and because I am in business for myself that I have fallen into this habit as well.

Rather than allowing myself to rest, I take a look at my to-do list for tomorrow and see if there’s anything I can do right now to make the next day a little easier. Or even the next few days. I do this quite often with blog posts for Beyond the Rhetoric, for instance, pre-writing the content in advance.

The idea, at least in theory, is that I am doing myself a favor. By doing it now, I won’t have to do it later. Precrastination may sound like it is advantageous, but it also has its inherent problems.

Where Precrastination Falls Short

The truth of the matter, at least in my own experience, is that precrastination is just another form of procrastination. What ends up happening is that I look at the other items on my to-do list, things that can wait, and I consider working on those rather than the items that I have selected to be done today.

In effect, I’m putting off for tomorrow (procrastination) what I probably should be doing today and I’m doing today (precrastination) what I can probably do tomorrow. Perhaps this is one of the ways that we can leverage procrastination to work in our favor. Or maybe it’s just another excuse, lightly shrouded behind some good intentions.

The net result is that the to-do list is still there; it just may have different items on it in a different order of priority.

What About Procaffination?

Are you the kind of person who replies to a few emails over the weekend so that you don’t get overwhelmed on Monday morning? Or are you the kind of person who abhors getting a pre-emptive message from that keener as you’re trying to enjoy Sunday Night Football?

In any case, I’m pretty sure that many of us are really procaffinators at heart. You know, the kind of people who put everything off until they get their morning coffee. Right?