How To Always Beat Deadlines

How To Always Beat Deadlines


By Anubhav Srivastava – For Speaking/training at your organization, email

When are People Most Productive?

Some people say they are most productive when they are cool and relaxed or when they are fit. Some people say they more productive when they are motivated or when they have a positive working environment.

But do you know, when most people are really the most productive?

It is at the last moment!

The Slogan for Nike is – “Just Do It!”
The Slogan for Most People is – “Just do it Later.”

There is something called the Parkinson’s Law. The law states that work expands to fill the time available for completion.

In other words, if you have 6 days to do something, most people will take 6 days to do it.
If you have 6 months to do the same thing, most people will take 6 months to do it.
If you have 6 years to do something, most people will take 6 years to do it!

No matter how small the work, it will usually extend itself till the final deadline! So, now that you know this, is there some way to beat this law?

It turns out there is, although paradoxically it involves complying with the law.

My father wanted his employees to arrive at work at 10 am, but many of them came at 10:30. They said that 10 am was too early and made up a variety of excuses for the same. So my dad decided to officially shift the time from 10 am to to 10:30 to accommodate these people. This would lead to a happy ending, right?

Far from it! The people who used to come at 10:30, now started coming at 11!

Now, my dad realized it was a never ending game. But in this moment, he also realized something. If people constantly took 30 minutes more than what the reported time was, suddenly it became obvious what it would take to make them come at 10 am! He took the unpopular decision to make the reporting time 9:30 am. Now almost everyone reported at work by 10!

The most powerful realization is that the Parkinson’s Law can be be reversed and used to your advantage. If work expands to fill the time available, it can contract to fill the time available as well!  The way to always beat deadlines is  SETTING FAKE DEADLINES!

Anthony Burgess was around 40 when he was informed of a devastating news. He had a brain tumor and only had one year to live. Now Anthony had a wife who was soon to become a widow and he wanted to ensure she never fell into troubled times. Also, for a long time, Burgess had been aspiring to be a novelist but was continuously procrastinating on the idea as thought he had a long time to make a decision. But now he only had one year and he had to do something to take care of his wife. So he came up with a plan. He would write as many novels as he could in one year and then bet on royalties from those novels to support his wife.

He worked with furious passion and pace, a pace he couldn’t have even imagined earlier. But he was left with no choice. He pushed his limits and potential to the extreme. In one year, he had written 5 and a half novels, which was more than the lifetime output of most people.

Now here’s the interesting part. It turns out Burgess didn’t really have a brain tumor. It was a misdiagnosis! He went on to live a long life, but having realized the power of fake deadlines, every year he wrote and pretended as if it were his last. He want on to publish an astounding 33 Novels!

Now let me tell you a story that was told to me by a Managing Director of a company I did a program for. His friend, who was a businessman himself, was falsely implicated in a court case. He was upset about it but did not pursue his acquittal with urgency. Then he received another devastating news. He was told he had Cancer (and he really did have it) and only had about two months to live. Although this was shattering, he decided if there was one last wish he had, it was that he did not want to die an accused.

The justice system in India is extremely slow, but he took it upon himself that he would do everything he could to not die an accused. He set a target for himself to make sure he cleared his name, not within two months, but by 1 month and 15 days, because he knew that in the final 15 days he would not be in a condition to fight anymore. He worked with such urgency and emergency that even the slow justice system was forced to respond. Before he died, he was acquitted of all wrong doing.

Many of us wait for an external emergency or a deadline to really go after what we want to do in life. Ask yourself, what you would do, if you had a very short time to live and death was certain? Wouldn’t you be desperate to work smarter and harder than ever to ensure your family stayed safe after you. Wouldn’t you be desperate to achieve the biggest dream you had been procrastinating on forever?

Our time on earth is so limited that the future is never the right time to begin anything, the right time to begin anything is now. The more you realize that time is limited, the more you will be motivated to achieve your true potential before it becomes too late!