2 Ways to Stop Being Last Minute with Your Time Management

How to Stop Being Last Minute WIth Your Time Management

So many of the learners on our Time Management training course tell us, ‘I work better under pressure’ or ‘I work best when I’m up against it’ or ‘That’s when I’m most creative’. Is this you? Maybe sometimes? 2 Ways to Stop Being Last Minute with Your Time Management is about explaining what is behind this behaviour so that you can make a more conscious choice.

Woman asking a man in a tux if he has a minute, the man responds with a specific time next tuesday

How effective is your time management?

Image courtesy of our cartoonist friend Mike Flanagan

Do you have the perfectionist driver?

An American psychologist called Taibi Kahler, PhD identified humans as having 5 drivers that motivate us and that we have a preference to usually one driver. As with many of our behaviours, these are thought to have been crafted in childhood. The drivers are:

  • Be Perfect – Were your parents keen that you did a task very well?
  • Be Strong – ‘Big boys don’t cry’ – Said a parent to their child.
  • Hurry Up – Did you always want to get it done first?
  • Please Others – Seeking approval was and is important for these people.
  • Try Hard – Those that stopped at nothing to get the job done.

If you have the perfectionist driver this may partly explain why your time management is last minute. Each driver has its strength and its weakness and no one driver is better than another. The challenge is about understanding ourselves, not changing ourselves.

The ‘Be Perfect’ driver will encourage you to continually improve a piece of work, like a presentation, right up until the deadline. So, although you started it in good time your time has been eaten away making small changes to achieve perfection, like changing font size or moving the slide number. Rather than working more towards an 80:20, where you begin to realise that the changes make very little difference.


  1. Recognise that you have the ‘Be perfect’ driver.
  2. Accept it.
  3. Identify when a task has achieved ‘good enough’.

Do you manage deadlines or do deadlines manage you?

The reason why many people work right up until the deadline is because they want the deadline to manage the amount of time a piece of work takes to complete. For example, if the presentation is first thing Tuesday morning, most people will have great intentions of starting the presentation days before, but ‘things just get in the way’. Your subconscious is busy calculating all the plans to build up your stress to start at the very last possible minute – 5.33pm on Monday night when everyone has gone home and you can ‘get on with some quality work’. By doing it this way a hard deadline is in place meaning that you can only work up until 9pm-ish (Maybe midnight!) on the presentation.

If you are managing the deadline this is less comfortable because you have to decide on the time you have to complete the task. If you start the presentation 3 days before, do not be attracted by using the ‘extra time’ to turn the presentation into a super snazzy presentation and start calling the design agency, or trying to analyse more data to prove another fantastic point.

To avoid the deadline managing you, identify the objective/s of the presentation, work towards those, desperately ignore any self-talk to significantly go beyond the objectives, and start earlier.


  1. Recognise that this is what you do.
  2. Accept it.
  3. Write down your objectives for a presentation and stick to them.

For further information, you can find our Ultimate Guide to Time Management Skills here. Find out more about our Time Management training course by contacting us.

Which driver do you have? Please share your view by commenting below.

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