Precrastination: The fierce urgency of now

Learn Behav. 2019 Mar;47(1):7-28. doi: 10.3758/s13420-018-0358-6.


Procrastination is a familiar and widely discussed proclivity: postponing tasks that can be done earlier. Precrastination is a lesser known and explored tendency: completing tasks quickly just to get them done sooner. Recent research suggests that precrastination may represent an important penchant that can be observed in both people and animals. This paper reviews evidence concerned with precrastination and connects that evidence with a long history of interest in anticipatory learning, distance reception, and brain evolution. Discussion unfolds to encompass several related topics including impulsivity, planning, and self-control. Precrastination may be a new term in the psychological lexicon, but it may be a predisposition with an extended evolutionary history. Placing precrastination within the general rubric of anticipatory action may yield important insights into both adaptive and maladaptive behavior.

Keywords: Associative learning; Comparative cognition.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anticipation, Psychological*
  • Biological Evolution
  • Brain / physiology
  • Humans
  • Impulsive Behavior*
  • Procrastination*
  • Self-Control*