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How To Meet Deadlines And Impress Even Yourself

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On author says up to 20% of us are chronic procrastinators.

Procrastination is universal.

“It’s as fundamental as the shape of time,” said Christopher Cox, a journalist and former chief editor of Harper’s Magazine and executive editor of GQ.

The author of “The Deadline Effect: How to Work Like It’s the Last Minute Before the Last Minute” says up to 20% of us are chronic procrastinators, but he offers simple tips so that your procrastination doesn’t translate into missed deadlines.

For example, don’t beat yourself up. Set up external supports you can rely upon to help yourself out.

“There are people out there who are able to wake up at 6 a.m. all on their own but the rest of us need alarm clocks and we shouldn’t despair if you need an alarm clock,” he said. “It’s not a personal failure if you need some bit of help waking up. And it’s not a personal failure if you need help meeting deadlines.”

Cox said to beware of something called “optimism bias,” where you think things will be easier to do than they actually are.

“If you want to accurately budget your time for a big project, think about the most similar project you’ve done before and how long that took,” Cox said. “Simply asking that question to yourself, which sounds like, ‘oh, of course, that should be step one for everyone,’ but most people skip that step.”

And while meeting deadlines is the goal, there are cases when they are missed. Cox’s advice: Don’t panic.

“The less time you spend feeling anguish and anxiety about that part of it, the sooner you can move on to getting things done.”

So, does meeting deadlines get easier with practice? Cox said it’s a matter of reframing the problem.

“Embracing deadlines leads to happiness, leads you to be productive, and despite their somber name and the bad connotations we have with the word, they’re wonderful things. And if we embrace them, our lives will be better.”

To hear more best practices for meeting deadlines, head to Think.KERA.org, where you can download and subscribe to the show’s podcast.