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Finally, after years of thinking I was merely odd, I have a diagnosis: I'm a "precrastinator".
We precrastinators don't put things off until the last minute (well, actually, in other moods, we do that, too, but never mind). Instead, we do things sooner than they really need to be done, even if it costs us more time and energy that way, simply for the feeling of having them over with. I sometimes worry that that'll be my epitaph: "He crossed a lot of items off his to-do list."
In the experiment that inspired the term, US researchers gave participants the choice of carrying one of two heavy buckets to the end of an alleyway. One bucket was positioned closer to the finish line, but most people chose the other bucket – the one nearer to them – even though they had to carry it farther, which meant expending more effort. The reason, according to the study's authors, was that the task they'd been given weighed on their minds; they wanted rid of it. "By picking up the near bucket, they could check that task off their mental to-do lists more quickly than if they picked up
And yet those emails do need to be answered, living rooms do need tidying. The best solution I've discovered is to stick to a simple rule: don't clear the decks first, clear them second. If your job permits it, schedule a daily deck-clearing hour – but at 4.30pm, not 9am. Switch your weekends around so that chores get done last (but assign a specific time, otherwise they won't get done at all). And whenever you catch yourself thinking, "Let me just get these little things out of the way first", consider the possibility that you'd be better off not bothering. Some don't need doing at all, while
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