Here’s What Happens When You Extend a Deadline

The Huffington Post:

In June, the Obama administration pushed back the deadline for employers with 50 or more workers to provide health insurance for their employees by a full year — until Jan 1, 2015. Admittedly, the implementation of anything as complex as the Affordable Care Act is going to take time, and those involved have been working furiously to try to meet the government’s deadlines. So at least with respect to this particular part of the ACA, everyone has an additional year to get everything just right. Sounds like a good thing, doesn’t it?

Only — how furiously do you think everyone with this new extended deadline is working now? Are they still burning the midnight oil… or are they saying to themselves, “Let’s take a breather. We’ve got plenty of time.”

What happens when we move back deadlines — once we get past the initial feeling of sweet relief? Research suggests we have a lot of difficulty using our newly-found time wisely. We wind up facing the same problem again — the same time pressure, the same stress, the same feeling-not-quite ready — only now we’ve gone an additional week, or month, or year without reaching an important goal.

So why do we squander the time extensions we are given, and what can we do about it? The answer to the latter requires an understanding of the former, so let’s start there.

Research by Dan Ariely and Klaus Wertenbroch suggests that many of us understand this implicitly. Their 2001 study (later published in the journal Psychological Science, examined students who had to turn in three papers by the semester’s end. Only 27 percent of them chose to submit all three on the last day — the majority established earlier deadlines for one or more of the papers voluntarily.

Read the whole story: The Huffington Post

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