Have Trouble Getting Started With Deadlines? Stay in the Present, Experts Say

Maybe it's because I'm a Type A kind of gal, but I've never had problems with deadlines.  It could come from the fact that my first job was as a newspaper reporter and you didn't get a second chance to miss one.

I don't like things hanging over my head (unlike my husband, who wait two minutes before we're ready to go somewhere to put on -- or find -- a clean shirt and pants, and my son, who, even with a month to do a project for school, always, always does the night before!).  So I don't really have a problem with procrastination.

But many do.  And a new study now says that may be because they see time differently than me.

What about those nagging tasks we keep putting off? What’s the difference between those jobs that get completed and those that do not?

According to newswise.com, if you have trouble starting a task, your perception of the deadline may be what's at fault.

 “The key step in getting things done is getting started. If you never get started, you can’t possibly finish,”  Yanping Tu, a doctoral candidate at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, explains. “But that urgency, that need to actually work on a task, happens when that task is seen as part of a person’s present.”

In one study, 100 undergraduates were told that they had five days in which to complete a four-hour data entry assignment. This assignment was made at the end of April, and those who were assigned the task on April 24th or 25th and had to finish by the 29th or 30th were more likely to begin work than those who were assigned on the 28th and told they needed to finish in the first few days of May. The change in month provided a barrier to the students that made the task seem less like it was part of the present and more like it was part of the future, the Web site reports. 

I would probably do that same thing, if I were told I had time in the following month to complete a project.  Even if the amount of days to the deadline was the same, I would still feel I had more time if the deadline came at the beginning of a new month, rather than the end of the old one.

How much of this comes from being an old newspaper reporter, and how much Type A behavior, I'll never know.  But deadlines have always struck me as, get the work done now.  If only I could pass this on to my son and husband.


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