The Deadline Effect: Nothing Ever Happens Until The Last Minute

The graph above shows the number of proposals for talks submitted for graphed against the deadline for submissions. This reaffirms what we’ve long known: if you set a deadline, most people won’t do anything about it until the last possible minute.

While LCA 2013 (which hits Canberra next January) had a record number of proposals, the same pattern occurs every time. There’s a frantic last-minute rush of proposals submitted right on deadline day. Then the deadline date gets extended, everyone does nothing for two weeks, and there’s another gush of submissions on the last day. Only a tiny fraction of people get organised and submit ahead of time. (I’m guilty of that too, but I did submit before the original deadline got extended.)

The lesson? If you want something quickly, set a tight deadline. No-one will doing anything until the day before anyway, so you may as well choose tomorrow as your due date.

So Close! []

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