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Opposite of procrastinators, precrastinators are people who finish tasks earlier than expected
Opposite of procrastinators, precrastinators are people who finish tasks earlier than expected

The generation of precrastinators

To cope with a competitive, ever-changing career, young startup founders have learnt to finish tasks ahead of time

Maithili Appalwar, 23, is moving at a breakneck speed to grow her Mumbai-based startup, Avana, an agro-technology social enterprise. To do this, her aim is to complete multiple to-do lists (quarterly, weekly and daily) and ensure she reaches inbox zero, which means every email she gets needs to be answered, snoozed or filed away by the end of the day. “If I don’t finish everything on my list, I get anxious," she says. Appalwar is a self-confessed precrastinator. Opposite of procrastinators, precrastinators are people who finish tasks earlier than expected. They answer emails immediately, turn in work ahead of deadlines, get medical lab tests done as soon as a window opens for it, pay bills immediately and complete their to-do lists before time.

Take, Arjun Bajaj, 25, who runs a TV technology startup in Delhi, for instance. Every Sunday he has a checklist ready for the week ahead. “I believe in being ready sooner than needed, even at the cost of my sleep or life," says Bajaj, adding that it helps him stay focused and productive.

THE SCIENCE OF IT

David Rosenbaum, distinguished professor, (psychology), at the University of California, coined the term “precrastination" in 2014, and has since been researching on it.

“In our studies we observed that precrastinators have a cognitive benefit as completing tasks ahead of time reduces load on working memory, reducing anxiety," he says.

It’s also good if you are ambitious. As competition increases, aspiration and ambition causes the millennial and post-millennial generations to continue their hurtle towards being over-achievers in their careers. Being a precrastinator helps.

It’s not only beats stress, but is also good for realizing your goals, says Saagar Panchal, 25, a startup founder based in Mumbai. “Completing tasks ahead of time reduces my physical and mental stress because it makes me happy that I’m finishing my work faster," he says. This reflects when Panchal has to deal with unexpected situations or meetings.

On the other hand, since Bajaj is always multitasking, being a precrastinator helps him react to wrong moves faster. “It’s very easy to anticipate a problem if you are organized and can think beforehand," he says.

Since running a startup can be demanding, planning ahead and finishing tasks early can give you enough time to think about future activities, and react or polish previous tasks.

“I read, learn new things, and look for new opportunities," says Aayushi Lakhapati, 28, co-founder of 23BMI, a healthcare startup. Lakhapati, who is based in Mumbai, is always on top of her mundane tasks. She prepares her meals in advance, pays bills as soon as they reach her table and always has a suitcase packed for a business trip.

As a startup founder, she believes being a precrastinator improves her overall productivity.

THERE’S ALWAYS A DOWNSIDE

Being a precrastinator can help you stay ahead of things, but it can also affect your personal life and health.

Azaan Feroz Sait, 26, founder of startup Safrina Ventures, says it could lead to putting yourself and your team under unnecessary pressure.

“In today’s connected world, I find being responsive to all the notifications quite stressful," says Sait, who also precrastinates.

Since he leads a team, he has consciously decided to set boundaries, so there is a semblance of work-life balance.

Though the speed has helped Appalwar keep abreast with changes, strategize and grow her business, it has also affected her mental health.

“I get really anxious if I have a down day at work," she says, adding that if she has less work on her table, she wonders if there’s something wrong. Similar is the case with Lakhapati.

A month ago, she received an email from a client in the middle of the night. Though she did not respond right away, she had a disturbed night. “Responding was the first thing I did after I woke up," she says.

Being a precrastinator definitely has an advantage. You finish work faster and can do more in your time. However, you should lookout for signs that say it’s chronic, warns Prof Rosenbaum as this tendency can easily turn people into slaves of their work.

“Chronic personalities fear that if they don’t respond immediately to emails or calls or text messages, they will be punished and, as a result, they spend less time with family, friends," he says.

Rasesh Seth, 29, a startup founder based in Mumbai, went through something similar. He responded to work emails at night during his honeymoon. “It was an extremely stressful situation, a critical project," he says. This went on for four days and he feels that because he is a habituated precrastinator, he could not stop before his tasks finished.

The best way to stop reaching chronic levels of precrastination is to chill, suggests Prof Rosenbaum. “Deliberately hold off on getting things done too soon and avoid being caught up in the endless game of mutual acceleration, being disliked by colleagues and clients and just relax," he says.

Write to us at businessoflfie@livemint.com

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