Deadlines are an integral part of life and getting things done. That said, The Wall Street Journal points out that the closer we get to a deadline, the more likely we are to make a bad decision.
Photo by Ryan Hyde
It’s no surprise that as we get close to a deadline, our stress levels go up. The problem is that stress causes poor decision making:
“The research shows us that the more stressful a deadline is, the less open you are to other ways of approaching the problem,” says Dr. Boyatzis, a professor in the departments of organizational behaviour, psychology and cognitive science at Case Western Reserve University. “The very moments when in organisations we want people to think outside the box, they can’t even see the box.”
For example, an IT manager being pushed to launch a new software product quickly might rush to get all the bugs fixed. With less pressure, he or she might have taken a step back, asked why all those problems were cropping up in the first place, and come up with a completely different approach to writing the code that worked more smoothly and didn’t produce the glitches…
One such technique is learning to let the mind wander, with exercises like meditation. In that mental state, the creative part of the brain tends to be active. “When people hit a wall in their thinking, in general they start thinking harder,” says Dr. Pillay. “What the neuroscience research tells us is that it’s more important to think differently.”
Obviously, we can’t live in a world without deadlines, but it’s good to know what’s going on in your brain when you’re stressed to meet those deadlines.
The Inner Workings of the Executive Brain [The Wall Street Journal]