Be honest, dear monkeys...how many times have you said the following, or something else like it:
"I didn't start it until the last minute, because I work best under pressure. I need that pressure to motivate me to finish."
And then covered it up with the catch-all phrase that our generation uses to explain poor decisions: "I know, I know, it's terrible, but that's just how I roll."
I've been thinking a lot about time management and work ethic lately, since a good buddy of mine is doing thething and still subscribes to that last-minute, midnight-oil burning approach to work. Doesn't matter if it's a five page paper or a fifty-page legal brief, whether there's actual research and reading involved or not, he simply refuses to start it until 6pm the night before it's due. Needless to say, the stress this produces likely leaves him with an ulcer by the time he's 30. And for a week leading up to the all-nighter, he won't go out or attend social functions: "Can't burn the midnight oil Flesh, I need it for the all-nighter I'm gonna pull on Sunday."
The bizarre thing--and this is the reason I bring this story to WSO today--is that he really thinks this is preparing him for work in the professional world. "Bosses are gonna ask for a lot of work on really tight deadlines, so I'm preparing myself for that," his logic goes.
No, you're not. You're preparing yourself to have a lot of bosses breathing down your neck about why you haven't started your project yet. As the entry-level guy you'll often be asked to "take the first crack" at a model (or a brief, in his case). At least, that's what I would argue if I'm interviewing this guy. To me, that says that you can't prioritize or be proactive unless you have a gun to your head.
It might work well for you when you're working alone (all nighters have gotten him an A on at least one occasion), but when you're on a team and lots of others have to review and edit your work, you can't make everyone else wait just because you don't feel like starting it until the 11th hour (your MD can do that to the rest of the team, but not you).
Once, my buddy was worried about a five-page paper that he could have written during a long lunch break if he wanted. "It's just all the research," he explained as he chugged down his doubleespresso, "it's too easy to write too much. I have to keep it under five pages, or they won't accept it."
"Dude, you're making this too difficult," I told him. "Just prioritize what your main points are and find a couple of arguments for each one. Do one page for each, and one more page for your beginning and conclusion. Easy."
"I don't prioritize, I'm just too lazy," he says grandly. And he ends up pulling an all-nighter for something that he could have knocked out in a couple of hours.
My open question to the forum here is, what if I'm wrong and he's right? Do you think this would be good practice for a stressful professional life? Has this worked for any of you on the job?
I've already gotten the discussion started with my stance, but it's worth reiterating: this type of "time management" (or lack thereof), is a poor habit to take into work with you. When it's fire drill time, it's fire drill time--we've all been there. But dammit if I make my coworkers wait around for me. That's not how I roll.