We live in a late world.
People are late. Projects are late. Planes are late.
And we accept it all. Why? Because we have been conditioned to it.
In fact, when something is on time. It usually throws us off. I recently saw a traveler yell at a customer service rep at the airport because they missed their flight because it left the gate, get this… “On Time!”
When was the last time you were early? When was the last time you finished something ahead of schedule?
Do You Finish Early?
Most people do not finish their work or tasks early. Project extensions and lateness have become the norm in many workplaces.
Some people actually take pride in their “just before the buzzer” performance. You will even hear them try to justify their lack of delivery.
“But, I work best under pressure…”
No, you don’t.
What you are saying is…
“That you don’t work well when you are not under pressure.”
You procrastinate. You don’t plan ahead. You don’t get things done when you should. And then you let the pressure and stress of failing make you complete your work. Not a efficient method, nor healthy.
Here is something to try. Want to scare the heck out of your friends, family or co-workers? Want to upset them at the same time? Take your next major project and finish it a good period ahead of the deadline. Have a deliverable that everyone is your group has to do? Finish yours about 5 days early.
It is that simple.
A College Story of Early
Once upon a time, I was an engineering student at the University of Virginia. One of my classes had a semester-long design project that was due at the end of the course. It required lots of design, computer CAD drawings, re-work and re-design. The instructor gave it to us a few weeks into the semester and we had about 45 days to do it.
If I remember correctly, we got it on a Thursday afternoon. I had no Friday classes that week. So, I started working on it. One thing lead to another and before I knew it, I had put in over 10 hours on that first day.
My friends came by and asked if I wanted to go out. After all, it was Friday night. Now, I was kind of a geek in college anyway, but I said, “No, I am going to stay in and work on this project.” When one of my buddies saw what I was working on, he said, “What are you doing, we have the rest of the semester to do that thing?!?”
I said, “Yeah, but I am on a roll and I want to see how far I can get.”
I stayed in. After many more hours, a Domino’s pizza, and many caffeinated beverages, I finally called it a night.
Saturday, I was right back at it. I was blazing on this thing and was not going to stop.
Sunday I kept going. I started to think that I might actually finish this thing.
Then, Sunday evening, after not having left my dorm room for almost 3 days, I finished the project. I had done dozens of re-works and spent over 36 hours in 3 days. But, I was done. And you could say it was just a little bit ahead of schedule.
My friends started to find out and were upset. And extremely jealous.
As the semester wore on, I started to hear a lot of stress from friends who had not yet started the project. In the final weeks, I heard cries of despair from those who had waited until the last moment and now encountered problems they had not expected.
Even though I had buttoned up the project in my 3-day marathon, I did take the opportunity to review my work over the course of the semester and made minor cosmetic improvements. By the way, I got an “A” on that project.
The Power of Early
There is tremendous power in finishing things early. It should not be underestimated. Some people think, “OK, so you finished early. Now you can do some more work…”
However, it is much more powerful than that. It has an almost exponential effect on your productivity and work results. And no matter what the “last minute” people will tell you, it feels much better to be “ahead of the curve.”
What are your best experiences with getting things done early?