Structure Deadlines that Work

Dateline: November 29, 2013

Welcome to our Friday WRAP – one thought-provoking idea to think about over the weekend.

A recent blog post from Fast Company came to the surprising conclusion that setting ‘extremely short’ deadlines was not just more productive, but reduced anxiety and made work less boring.  Building on Parkinson’s Law about how work expands to fill the available time, Blogger Drake Baer recounted that

Work is “elastic,” meaning that it stretches and shrinks to fit the time allotted. This has fascinating outcomes in meetings: Northwestern management professor and Creative Conspiracy author Leigh Thompson has told us about how people get the most value out of their meetings in the first portion. You’ll be getting as equivalent quality of ideas in a 20-minute meeting as you would in a two-hour one.

He continues with the suggestion that,

…The outcome of Parkinson’s law is that if you give yourself a week to work on a two-hour task, then the task with grow in complexity as to fill that week–perhaps not with more work, but more anxiety about the work. It’s like…going into the store and looking at something you want to buy for two weeks: anxious, boring, and not at all productive.

How to you structure your deadlines?  Will shorter deadlines increase the quality of the work process for you?

That’s a WRAP!  Have a nice weekend.

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