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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 wait and wait, and do nothing to prepare.

They put the thought out of their mind by saying, "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. This is so common a trait in human nature that it is almost standard practice.

For example, last week I agreed to give Les a lift in my car to the train station to catch a train. Les came down to 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 paragraph and I'll be right with you."

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

I said, "Twenty minutes? It takes at least that time to drive into town".

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

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

Les is not the only one

There are many people who don't prepare in time. They leave it. They leave it longer.

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 think: "I work better under pressure."

What they mean is "They work harder under pressure". But they don't work better. Nobody does, because nobody can.

It is a folly to wait until you are in a crisis situation before you decide to act.


There are many reasons, including these three:

  1. Leaving things until the last minute gives you no slippage. When you finally act, NOTHING may go wrong, because if it does, you will miss the deadline. But the truth is things do go wrong. Unexpected events DO happen. People make errors. As a result those people who wait till the last minute are betting on the improbable: that nothing will go wrong.
  2. Leaving things to the last minute means that you have no time to think things out before you do them. You have to act on impulse, and impulsive action is often inefficient or the wrong action. Even one wrong action, as pointed out above, is enough to miss the deadline.
  3. Leaving things to the last minute affects your colleague's plans too. Many things you do form a part of someone else's work. 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 bad to their boss or customers.

So 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.

Don't leave it until the last minute - prepare

Prepare, well in advance of the event.

If you are catching a train, leave the house so that you arrive at the station well in advance of the train. Give yourself at least 30 minutes for a journey that normally takes 20 minutes. Just in case.

If you are catching a plane, pack your bags the day before you fly. Sort out your document folder the day before you fly. Don't arrive at the airport late and then ask your partner, "Where are the tickets?"

If you are studying for an exam, prepare months in advance. Revise, all year round. Don't leave revision to the last two weeks before an exam.

Remember the old saying: "The early bird catches the worm."

Winners and Losers

Preparation is the distinguishing factor that separates the winners from the losers.

Winners prepare meticulously and well.

Losers think that they can leave preparation since they, "Work better under pressure."

They may work harder under pressure but there results are not better. They could never be. Not even in theory.

Preparation beats procrastination, every time.

So: Don't leave it. Prep it!

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