It’s easy for me to justify my last minute approach to tasks, especially at work (and previously at school). I don’t even think of it as procrastination. I think of it more like:
My productivity on a particular task is an exponential curve; it looks really concerning as it begins but breaks skyward at the last second.
And that upward spike generally results in completion of the task to a degree of quality that people seem to appreciate. I even had a grad school professor tell me “you get more work done at a higher level of quality than any student I’ve worked with.”
My managers and my professors before them learned not to ask questions mid-process as they’d be concerned at the slow start I am off to. My thesis adviser urged me to set artificial deadlines, to pull the all-nighter one night ahead of deadline. Then I can find the last typos the next day before handing it in.
But there is no denying that this approach puts me constantly on the edge of a chasm of massive failure. It exposes me to a great deal of risk and does nothing to protect against uncontrollable events that could make me unable to work in the final days or hours, negating the vertical portion of my work curve. It’s a pattern that could lower my professional reputation from “ridiculously productive” to “ridiculously unpredictable” in one day of, say, massive technological failure (like a computer crash). What’s more, one high cost event would cause upper management to pressure middle management to check up on me more often, which would result in me looking like a horrible worker because of how far my actual early work progress is from where a typical manager would expect it needs to be if deadlines are to be met.
Living on the edge. Hardly worth the risk, you would think. But it’s the knife at the back that gets me moving; it’s the pressure that has wrought all the successes I’ve had.