According to The New Yorker, as the last day to complete a task approaches, people respond to the pressure differently. Some, perhaps well-adjusted and diligent people, jump in, figuring that the anxiety of an unpaid bill or an unfinished project is far more painful than the difficulty of sticking to a sensible schedule. However, others live in denial until the last minute, when they bolt to the end, vowing that they’ll do it all differently next time. And still others dismiss deadlines altogether, believing them to be at best imaginary and at worst contrary to creativity.
The magazine editor Christopher Cox said that people often summon the will to do their best work when they think they’re down to the buzzer—but by then it’s too late to actually do it. It’s only by mentally manipulating themselves to act early and often that people can ever do spectacular things. Cox tells us that all his subjects “have learned how to work like it’s the last minute before the last minute.”
The New Yorker jokes: “Everywhere you look, people are either hitting deadlines or avoiding them by reading about how other people hit deadlines.”