Have you procrastinated a project for several months only to finish it in a frenzy within one week?
There are months where we get a mere day’s work done, and there are days close to a deadline, when a month’s work gets done. Few things galvanize action like a deadline does.
Why is a deadline so effective?
When we’re too close to a deadline, it morphs into a crisis. It tunnels us and focuses all our attention to shipping our work. A bunch of harmones like adrenalin and cortisol do their bit as well. The result? Hyper-productivity.
Organizations have learnt to hack this only too well. Every work-project has final deadlines – mostly some date that an executive pulls out of thin air. Their teams are now forced to bust their bottoms to meet that deadline. Regular status checks work as mini-deadlines along the way. The project stresses and wears out its members, but once it’s done, everybody gets a burst of satisfaction. And then, the cycle repeats.
Yet, this is artifical. Most deadlines, when exceeded, don’t leave anybody dead. However, they must feel like a life-or-death matter. Or else, they would not work.
How can you better use deadlines to create tension and propel forward motion?