Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Just Do It; WORK Do You Get It All Done before the Deadline or Are You a Ponderer Who Delays until the Very Last Moment? Pre-Crastination's the Future, Says Susannah Butter

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Just Do It; WORK Do You Get It All Done before the Deadline or Are You a Ponderer Who Delays until the Very Last Moment? Pre-Crastination's the Future, Says Susannah Butter

Article excerpt

Byline: says Susannah Butter

AT FIRST it seems to be a simple choice -- would you rather cyberloaf your way through the morning, or address looming deadlines head on, shut out distractions and do some hard graft? It will come as some surprise to the seasoned ditherer but the second choice is increasingly popular. Putting tasks off is just too stressful -- why procrastinate when you can pre-crastinate? It's all about delayed gratification. If you do the work now, you can look forward to some real leisure time later without the spectre of future graft.

Pity the procrastinator. They may be enjoying flicking between GIFs and YouTube videos of cats now but ultimately it's exhausting for their brains and pushes their stress levels to the limit.

According to a study by Pennsylvania State University, pre-crastination means freeing up memory. Researchers placed two buckets, each holding three kilograms of coins, at different points in an alley. The 257 people being tested were invited to either pick up the bucket closest to them and carry it to the end of the alley, or pick up the one closer to the finish and carry that to the end.

Having remember an end is hard the memory, even as having a bucket Most people chose to pick up the bucket that was least far away despite it needing to be carried further. Scientists concluded that this is because we are lazy. Having to remember an end goal is difficult for the brain's working memory, even if it is as simple as having to lift a bucket. So if there is a quick way to reduce the effort of remembering, most people will go for that.

Dr David Rosenbaum, who worked on the study, says: "Most of us feel stressed about all the things we need to do -- we have to-do lists, not just on slips of paper we carry with us or on our iPhones but also in our heads. Our findings suggest that the desire to relieve the stress of maintaining that information in working memory can cause us to over-exert ourselves physically or take extra risks."

As Malcolm Gladwell says in his book, Blink, it is often better to make snap decisions rather than succumb to analysis paralysis. …

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