Are you a deadline junkie? 

By Professor Ko de Ruyter and Dr. Debbie Keeling

At Motivforce R&D we are all doctors. Not the kind you turn to when somebody on a flight is having a heart attack (although we do get asked sometimes!). We are pretty useless at saving people. We probably could tell you though what the impact of such an incident would be on passenger satisfaction or how it affects the airline’s brand equity. This is useful when you work for a loyalty marketing company. So, we are the kind of doctors who constantly try to make touchy feely things measurable and predict how this is going to influence behaviour. Stuff that you may experience in everyday life or unconsciously register at the back of your mind. Like the way in which we all seem to be increasingly ruled by deadlines. Looking back to the start of the New Year, we have been frantically working to meet deadlines. Tiring but thrilling at the same time! We are deadline junkies, ready to visit DA meetings! … as in Deadlines Anonymous.

Recognize this? Without deadlines I feel no pressure, without pressure I do not accomplish things; I procrastinate, daydream, check my Facebook page, end up at Buzzfeedfests and, oops, loose another hour or three, feeling frustrated. The louder the deadline clock ticks, the more we think we are inspired and we kid ourselves that nothing is more gratifying in life, than hitting that ‘send’ button on the stroke of midnight. Pretty sad huh? And also pretty stressful sometimes, as research shows.  But, we are not unique. A lot company executives are probably experiencing something similar. So here’s a test we came up with to determine whether you are a deadline junkie or not.


Please respond to all of the statements below using the following answering scale: 5=never, 4=seldom, 3=sometimes, 2=mostly and 1=always. Add all your answers up to determine your final score.

  1. I often do things that I should have already done.
  2. Often I finish things at the last moment.
  3. As soon as I finish a library book I return it.
  4. When the alarm goes off I pretend it is a bad dream and stay in bed.
  5. When I need to call someone I do it right away.
  6. I commonly take decisions immediately.
  7. When I need to go somewhere, there are always a lot of things left to do.
  8. I prefer to arrive early when I have an appointment with someone.
  9. I usually buy birthday presents at the last moment.
  10. I always make sure I finish everything during the day, so I can relax at night.


If you score lower than 26, you are a decisively efficient employee. You do not mess about and you are organized. You do not suffer from procrastination. If you score between 26 and 33, you can sometimes refrain from doing things that can also be done tomorrow, but procrastinating is not a problem for you. You are in control of your workload. Still, maybe you want to stop and think how your productivity can be more balanced. If you score higher than 33, you are definitely deadline junkies. Your mantra is ‘not now, maybe tomorrow, or maybe the day after’. Tear down that wall of denial. Procrastination can be a problem and may possibly stress you out at some point.

All profiling aside, if you want to change things and are looking for some peace of mind, try a piecemeal (or perhaps ‘peace’meal?) approach to projects. If you’re a happy procrastinator, at least remember that time is precious, so waste it wisely!