¿”Precrastinas” or “Procrastinas”?

In this world of fast-moving words and idioms, sometimes new words reach our lips before they reach the RAE dictionary. Far from making a spelling mistake, we are going to speak about the verb “precrastinar”, which who knows if one day we will see it in the RAE, contrasted with the verb “procrastinar”.

As we cannot be two things at the same time, at the end of this blog entry you will have to go out on a limb and choose what kind of person you consider yourself to be and comment on it in class.

Are you a person who anticipates everything, or are you a person, a bit “more Spanish”, who puts things off until tomorrow?

Let’s start with the word that is not accepted by the Real Academia Española de la lengua, but which has been heard in psychology for decades and which has a quite different meaning to procrastinating. Let’s see what kind of people are precrastinadores and whether you identify with being one of them.

Neither one category is lazier than the other, nor one more efficient than the other.


According to some psychological circles, people who “precrastinate” are those who have a continuous urge to finish those things they have unfinished, no matter how costly or tedious they are. They are also often unable to prioritise one over the other.
Sometimes this eagerness to finish a task leads the person to make mistakes, to make decisions rashly or to put a lot of effort in something that may be futile.

We must understand that efficiency and immediacy do not go hand in hand. Thinking about finishing as soon as possible is not always the best decision in a work or study environment. This way of thinking sometimes leads us to make a work of poor quality or to waste time revising things that we could have done better from the beginning.

An example of this would be a Spanish student who, instead of preparing for an exam, spends his time doing other activities on his to-do list that are less important. Can you imagine? Today I washed my dog, ironed the clothes and cleaned the house, I even had time to dye my hair, but… I didn’t study for the exam as much as I should have done.

If you are a person who answers every email you receive, finishes tasks before the due date, buys huge amounts of food in case you are going to be short of it or tries to finish everything to avoid the frustration of having things unfinished, then you are in this group of people.
Sometimes we do things without knowing why, and maybe it also happens with “precrastinación”. Do you know why you do it or what leads you to act this way? Let’s look at several reasons.

1. Control: If you are a person who likes to be in control of the situation, you are most likely a “precrastinador”. By performing and completing a task as quickly as possible, you are in control of the situation.
2. Guilt: By anticipating something, you avoid the feeling of guilt at the possibility of not finishing a task.
3. Pleasure: To-do lists, like achieving goals or meeting challenges, activate our brain’s reward system and generate dopamine. What we don’t see is that there may be some tasks on that list that are more important than others and we may have spent more time than necessary on some tasks than others without managing their priority.
4. Society: In today’s culture where yesterday is already past and obsolete, immediacy in finishing tasks becomes a self-imposed social pressure.

As Einstein said: “Creativity is intelligence having fun”. With this we must understand that taking a break between tasks, as well as having a list of priorities, helps us to get closer to our goals and take life more calmly.


On the opposite side of the “precrastination” scale, we have the procrastinator (procrastinador).

If you have been in Spain for some time, there is surely something that has surprised you a lot about Spaniards, and that is the ease with which we leave everything for tomorrow. Often seen from the outside, leaving things for tomorrow indicates laziness or a lack of desire to work, but this is not always the case.

According to the RAE, procrastinating is nothing more than postponing something. In psychology, instead, the procrastinator puts off tasks that are costly or uncomfortable, replacing them with others that are more fun or easier to do, even if they are less important.

If you are a person who knows that you should do something and you don’t do it and you are doing a different and less demanding task instead of doing the important one, then you are a procrastinador. Thinking that we still have time, that we work better under pressure or that tomorrow will be better, are typical thoughts of procrastinators.

Just as a precrastinador is not more productive, a procrastinador does not have to be lazy. A lazy person is someone who doesn’t want to do anything, as opposed to a procrastinator who does want to, but is not able to prioritise and be more productive.

But let’s look at what leads us to procrastinate, and before we talk about it in Spanish classes, let’s be clear about the reasons that can lead us to procrastinate:

1. Perfectionism: This is one of the reasons that is sometimes overlooked, thinking that tomorrow things will be better because we will be able to dedicate more time to it. The truth is that a task can often be divided up so that it does not take up so much time.
2. Impulsivity: People with a lack of control find it more difficult to do something unpleasant and also let themselves be carried away by distractions.
3. Self-esteem: Thinking that we will not be able to do the task successfully, and focusing on difficulties, does not help to get things done today.
4. Frustration: If I feel that doing a task is going to make me anxious, I put it off to avoid that feeling.

Remember that procrastinar, from time to time, is not a bad thing, as we all need a break. Everyone has their own rhythm and we should know what our own rhythm is, without feeling bad. Let’s avoid distractions, be aware of our situation and act accordingly.

We hope you have learnt two new words and in plenary you can discuss them in class. It will be interesting to know what your Spanish classmates think.