Deadline Management

Research from Dan Ariely, the author of Predictably Irrational shows that hard and fast deadlines, set by evil professors actually result in better grades for students. Interesting.

Ariely did a study where students were in one of three groups.  The first group had no deadlines at all, except that their three assignments must be submitted by the end of the course.  In the second group, students could set their own deadlines spaced throughout the term, but must do so at the beginning of the course. And in the third group, the students received their deadlines from the professor. Students who were late received a one per cent a day penalty.  The results? Highest grades were from the students whose deadlines were set by the professor. The second highest grades were to the students who set their own deadlines. And finally, the lowest grades went to the students who had the end of the semester deadline.

This suggests that hard deadlines set by someone else will likely result in less procrastination than self-set deadlines. So what strategy can we use to better manage deadlines?  Work with someone else who will set deadlines for you, and hold you accountable for those deadlines. That’s why accountability buddies are so important for those of us who are independent consultants.  We need to be accountable.

Moral of the story? While my students won’t appreciate the hard and fast deadlines I give them, I’m going to stick with the tough love approach, and start applying it to myself a bit more.


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