Don’t Fool Yourself With “Just-in-Time” Time Management

Just in time

Do you finish tasks at the last possible moment?

Are your projects always finishing just before the final deadline?

If your time management is always just-in-time, you may need to take a second look at your productivity.

Just-in-Time or Just-Not-Enough-Time?

I recently worked with an individual who did everything at the last possible moment. Every task he completed was a buzzer-beater delivery.

He was known for his last-minute performances. These usually involved a flurry of action in the final hours, sometimes including all-nighters or marathon work sessions ahead of a deadline.

When I finally chatted with him about his just-in-time performance he responded, “That is just the way I work.”

I asked if he had considered that he might produce better work if he completed things a bit ahead of schedule, with time to spare for the unforeseen and revisions.

He rebutted, “I am creative, so I can’t do anything until the last moment. Until the inspiration hits. In fact, I do my best work when under pressure.”

If your time management is always just-in-time, then it’s not working.
What you are actually saying is that you just-don’t-have-enough time!

Needless to say, the rest of his team found it very frustrating working with this individual. They were frustrated with his in the nick-of-time behavior for many reasons:

  • He was not well engaged with anything until the last second.
  • He didn’t repsond to emails.
  • He didn’t attend meetings.
  • He didn’t show up until the project was ready to launch.

They were not buying his “I work best under pressure excuse.”

As far as his team was concerned, what he was actually saying was, “I don’t work well when not under pressure.”

Get Ahead of Just-in-Time

If your time management is always at the last second, it’s time to take a second look at your efforts.

Just-in-time may give you a rush of excitement when you manage to come in just under a deadline.

However, you are fooling yourself if you think you are producing your best work “only under pressure.”

And by the way, you aren’t fooling others with this line either.

Question: Do you always rush to finish things at the last second? How could you get ahead of your just-in-time deliveries?

Invest just 10 minutes a day toward the right ideas, behaviors and strategies to finally be more productive at work…so you can spend less time there! 31 Days, 31 Ways: Daily Tips for Time Management Mastery is my time management course, containing 31 powerful daily lessons and 31 actionable exercises designed to help you take action, reduce stress, and reclaim your time. Click here to learn more.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

12 thoughts on “Don’t Fool Yourself With “Just-in-Time” Time Management

  1. Great: a blog post which confirms my fears and sends my anxiety through the roof, but offers no advice or strategies. I hope you’ll follow this post up with one that does!

  2. I occasionally do something like that – like right now with my taxes. I have them started but not finished, and of course, they’re due on Monday. I’m never in a hurry since we always have to pay but I don’t usually wait this late to finish.

    I am confident I’ll get them done this time but I couldn’t live this way. I’d lose my mind. I definitely like to stay ahead of things so that when bad things happen, as they tend to do, I’ve at least done everything I can do ahead of time. Then I’m free to deal with the “bad” things. But if I have to deal with the stuff I could have prevented and the bad stuff, well, I would go crazy.

  3. I think it’s more frustrating for other team members, so what don’t give such last-minute people what they want, that usually works for good. Set their own deadlines ahead of the Deadlines for the team. And make it strict by imposing consequences for last-minuters as if they were in breach of the real deadline as other team members. If it’s done with a last-minuter consent and full awareness of the team leader/superior (whoever is in charge and can impose fines, etc.). I think it may work positively for the aim (to get the project done). for the team (the last-minuter won’t influence their work that much and for the last-minuter him(her)self. Usually when people are treated as they say they WANT, they face up that it’s not actually about ‘being creative’ or ‘under pressure high performance’, but about THEIR personal efficiency, which is not managed properly by the last-minuter.

  4. I think that the “working best under pressure” excuse is wearing thin. I think it’s a way to avoid planning and organizing your projects and workload. The people who wait until the last minute never get to experience the joy of finishing something early and realizing that’s a much better feeling than the adrenaline rush of the last minute!

  5. I used to be able to understand that creative work can’t happen until the last moment. But I’ve come to learn that it’s just a lack of a healthy creative habit. Getting up and writing at the same time each day, for example, is a painful habit at first but it opens up time for creative work to emerge better than just randomly sitting down.

    In a sense, he DOES have the habit – just one that is really hurting the way perceive him. He just needs to incorporate a healthier and more consistent one it seems.

  6. In my perspective just-in-time is not correlated with time management. It relates with resources, supportive, perhaps with just-in-time tasks. On the other hand, I see time management as the exact opposite of just-in-time approach. Excellent post, Graig, and a major contribution, in clarify these issues.

  7. Working ahead of schedule is always the best way to come up with your best work. I’m sure that reckless guy your team worked with always said to himself details he could’ve improved of his final output, but he won’t admit it. I’m very guilty of doing last-minute work, but from the experiences I’ve had of working ahead of schedule, I always find something to improve. And that “Until the inspiration hits” mentality if very lazy. You have to sit and put yourself in the mood for it, START and then the ideas will start flowing and you’ll be doing the work seamlessly.

  8. The Frontline Management Institute offers Time management training and courses across Australia including Sydney, NSW, Melbourne, VIC, Brisbane, QLD, Canberra, ACT and also internationally to countries such as Singapore and England. FMI’s time management training provides learners with a range of insights and tools to help them improve their time management skills. After completing one of FMI’s time management training courses you will be able to analyse your current time management and identify the key areas that you can address to help you find more time in your time. With your new awareness you will be able to focus on forming better time management habits so that your days are more productive. Time management training can be delivered face-to-face or online.