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The idiocy of extending deadlines

Harvard Business Review explains why it doesn't work.

Give them another week, and seven days from now, you'll have a moment like this.

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So your staff or contractor wants an extension on the big project?

Don't give in - they'll only procrastinate all over again.

So says Columbia University motivational expert Heidi Grant Halvorson in the Harvard Business Review. Halvorson, who is also the author of Nine Things Successful People Do Differently, describes human nature from the perspective of individuals who are granted additional days, weeks or months to complete a task. She notes:

Research suggests we have a lot of difficulty using our newly-found time wisely. We wind up facing the same problem again — the same time pressure, the same stress, the same feeling-not-quite ready — only now we've gone an additional week, or month, or year without reaching an important goal.

Halvorson subscribes to the long held notions that not only do people naturally put off work, but that their motivation to complete a goal increases as the goal gets nearer, and that people are rotten judges of how long it will take to complete something.

Interim deadlines would help solve these challenges, she says.

It all shines light on the fictitious story about the guy named God, who builds the world in six days. During the process, God creates mankind in his own image. And since mankind procrastinates, so, therefore, must have Mr. G. He likely goofed off from Monday through Friday before throwing things together last minute in an all-nighter on Saturday. He did a remarkable job, all things considered. But his haste left a few imperfections: poverty, hunger, strife and that sort of thing.

If someone had given him an extension, the result probably would have been the same all over again.

Image from bubblews.com

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com