Embracing Pressure: Why Last-Minute Work Yields Best Results

With a gun to our heads, we sometimes produce our best work! Why is it that? Why do we put things off until the last minute? Does it really take that much pressure to spark our imaginations?

I know that I, like many others, often leave things to the last minute, sometimes even the most important of things, and I am not sure why I do that.

What I do notice is that if I have too much time to do things, I don’t really get a better-quality product. Having too much time can often have a negative impact on quality. I don’t know if its because I feel I have plenty of time, and I think I can always do it better later, or at least I have the time to do it again.

Whenever I am pressed for time, I have a much better success rate of getting things right the first time, and the quality is usually better too.

I think this might be because I don’t have the time to overthink things; I just have enough time to do it.

Today I am sitting here thinking about the training course I have to create, one that starts in just over 8 days, and so far I have not even created the title slides. I have all the material in my head, but when I have too much time to think, I spend hours wondering what I should do, what I should include, and what I should leave out.

I worry whether it will be good enough and whether people will like it, and all of this impacts my decision making process.

When I have my back to the wall and I only have enough time to do it, then I don’t have those concerns; my goal is to just get the material down and have it ready for that first session.

I know that this is not the case for everyone. I have three children, and two of them do their best work when they have a gun to their heads, whereas my daughter Jessica struggles; she does her best work when she has enough time to prepare without any additional pressures.

For me, pressure brings focus; it gets my creative juices flowing, I think quicker; I see things so much more clearly; and I am so much more decisive. Some of the concerns I would usually have never even crop up.

It’s like if I have enough time, my mind actually works against me, giving me other things to think about and distracting me. It’s almost as if I know that I need to be under pressure and short on time in order to get the job done well.

I have even tried to create artificial deadlines in order to create the same effect, but it’s not the same, because, deep down, I know it’s not a real deadline and that I will ultimately have more time.

I’m kind of resigned to it; it’s now my modus operandi, but that doesn’t stop me from panicking, as I start things with just enough time to do them.

I’d be really interested to know whether you struggle with similar issues and, if so, what you do about them. Leave a comment and let me know.

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