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Don't Leave It to the Last Minute

Don't Leave it to the Last Minute

Don't Leave it to the Last Minute

One of the most common mistakes people make, is to leave things until the last minute.

Many people, knowing that they must do something by a particular deadline, will do nothing to prepare.

They say, "I've still got plenty of time." So they wait until there is not a minute to spare, then they get cracking and make an all-out effort to achieve the deadline.

Only last week I agreed to give Les a lift in my car to the train station. Les arrived at my office at 8 o'clock and said, "Are you okay to take me to the station?"

I said "Yes, let me just finish this email and I'll be right with you."

Les said, "Please hurry, my train leaves in 20 minutes."

"Twenty minutes? It takes at least that time to drive to the station".

Les said, "Yes, and I have to get my ticket from the machine when I get there, so hurry up or you will make me late!"

"I will make you late? You have left things till the very last minute again, Les!"

Allow plenty of time

Les is not the only one. There are many people who don't allow sufficient time. They leave it. They wait until their brain tells them that if they don't move NOW they will miss the boat.

When the mental pressure of a deadline grows to boiling point, then and only then, do they take action. They operate from an emotional position of deadline driven, crisis management situation. They even claim that it is the right thing to do, since, they believe "they work better under pressure."

What they mean is they work harder under pressure. But they don't work better.

Leaving things until the last minute gives you no slippage. The fact is things do go wrong. Unexpected events DO happen. People make errors, things break down.

This means you may have to act on impulse, and impulsive action is often inefficient or undesirable.

Leaving things to the last minute affects your colleague's plans too. If you wait until the last minute to do your part of the task, then you force others to miss their deadlines too and you make them look inefficient and potentially lose customers.

If you are a procrastinator, you will build a bad reputation for yourself. And you will suffer the consequences of being a person who cannot be trusted to get the job done on time.

Remember: it is not about trying to make yourself work harder and longer. It is about making more progress in less time.

Preparation is the key to progress

Prepare, well in advance of the need. Do this by:

Deciding what is it you want to achieve, and writing down your goals.

Plan what you need to do every day, and make a list of the most important tasks to do each day.

Delegate any tasks that can be done by others.

Do things in advance of need and you will always be ahead of the game, relaxed and efficient.

Remember the old saying: "The early bird catches the worm." Preparation is the distinguishing factor that separates the winners from the losers.

Stop Procrastinating

Procrastination is the act of putting-off a task because you are not in the mood to do it. You could do it. You should do it. But you are not in the mood, so you don't.

Could, should, don't - This is a recipe for disaster. It leads to missed deadlines, late work, conflicts and arguments.

Instead, never procrastinate. If you could do it, and you should do it, then DO it. Do it even if you are not in the mood to do it. This is self-discipline.

Stop distracting yourself by mistaking pleasant tasks for important tasks and thinking you are making progress. Tasks you feel like doing, are not necessarily the ones you should be doing.

Preparation beats procrastination, every time.

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About the Author: Chris Farmer


Chris Farmer is the founder of the Corporate Coach Group and has many years’ experience in training leaders and managers, in both the public and private sectors, to achieve their organisational goals, especially during tough economic times. He is also well aware of the disciplines and problems associated with running a business.

Over the years, Chris has designed and delivered thousands of training programmes and has coached and motivated many management teams, groups and individuals. His training programmes are both structured and clear, designed to help delegates organise their thinking and, wherever necessary, to improve their techniques and skills.

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Further Reading in Time Management

  • Don't Leave it to the Last Minute
    One of the most common mistakes people make, is to leave things until the last minute. Preparation is the distinguishing factor that separates the winners from the losers.
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    Many people believe that they can juggle multiple tasks at once. The truth is, that they never manage to do anything well. The fact is that lack of focus causes mistakes.
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