Riding the Rollercoaster of Deadlines

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Bid Farewell to Last-Minute Stress

It was a Thursday and I’d be given a deadline of two weeks on Wednesday. But when did I start? Yep, you guessed it. Not that day, no siree. Actually, it was the night before the deadline.

And the reason we give to others and ourselves is: I work better under pressure.

Do you heck? You don’t. In fact, you are much more stressed when you work under pressure and are more likely to have a heart attack. Plus, here’s the rub. You don’t need to. You don’t. So stop convincing yourself you do by knowing why you really do it, and then using our workaround. It’s all about mindset and with a few simple brain hacks you can reduce your stress significantly.

Back to My Story…

My boss had asked me to present at a client meeting, which was two weeks away, on Wednesday. Today was Thursday. Now the logical point of my brain said, ‘I must get this done soon. I must. I’ll start on it tomorrow. I will. Because I have a clear day’. Then I came to work the next day early with great hopes and intentions. Now here’s how my day went:

Busy businessman working on a laptop in office before the deadline
What happened before the deadline


– Got in. Coffee. Sat down at my desk. I’ll just have a quick look at my emails. I looked and a little while later I heard ‘Coming to the 10 O’clock catch-up?’ Damn. I’d forgotten about that.

– Got back to my desk at 11.15 am. I must do that presentation for that client Mike wanted me to do. Bags of time. Checking my emails, and taking a few phone calls. Quick lunch and 2 pm meeting. Back at my desk at 4 pm. Must start that presentation. Email check. Must call a customer and it turned into an urgent problem I had to solve.

– Then rinse and repeat until the day before the deadline. It is now Tuesday. Argh!

Break This Habit of Prolonging Until the Night Before the Deadline

We don’t trust ourselves. This is why we work against the deadline. Imagine if I’d started the presentation on the day of the brief rather than the night before the deadline. Well, I’d have tinkered with the font, the headlines, the everything, every day. But our brain quietly and stealthily calculates the exact time we need to do the presentation and then starts it – Normally the answer is ‘the night before’.

Changing this long-term behaviour is hard. The first step is accepting that the needless stress on top of all the other stress you have, just isn’t worth it. Then the second step is to make a pact with yourself, ‘I’ll spend a total of 4 hours on this’. We don’t need to track the time, but just a mental note. Finally, the last step is to live the words ‘Good enough’. We don’t need perfection. We do need the presentation to be good enough. By doing these 3 steps we practise a little much-needed self-care.

Hopefully, you’ll remember these steps before considering prolonging until the night before the deadline. Check out our articles on Medium and give us your support.

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