Last night the British Football Transfer Window slammed shut sending football clubs and fans into an annual frenzy. The prior 24 hours has seen staff across the game working in overdrive to conclude last minute deals. It’s the same every year and it’s unlikely to change. But why does deadline day consistently cause chaos when the transfer window is open for months in advance? And what does that say about our psychological tendency to leave business decisions to the last minute?
Colombian International striker Radamel Falcao moving to Manchester United is just one high profile example of a big deadline day decision being made yesterday in the English Premier League. At face value, this trend could purely be viewed as a negotiation tactic for the best possible deals as the minutes tick away and football clubs become more desperate. But this game of brinkmanship is not always the only factor. Players and Managers alike have been known to drag their heels on decisions that have been on the cards for weeks, only to sanction a deal in the final moments of the window. This is not a trait that is exclusive to football or the sports industry.
Thus the question remains, psychologically why do we sometimes over procrastinate business decisions? One theory is that we subconsciously prefer to delay stressful tasks and not worry about them until we have to. Alternatively, some companies (including ourselves!) believe they work well under pressure. Stress evasion could theoretically provide an incentive to the postponement of a task. Psychologists Fiore and Neil cite procrastination as a mechanism for coping with the anxiety associated with starting or completing any task or decision.
Whilst this whole subject is open to debate and personal interpretation, one thing is for sure, it is not an exclusively contemporary behavior. Even In classic Greek literature, a famous poet named Hesiod warned against the temptation to “put your work off till tomorrow and the day after.” It appears this trend has always been there, and it is therefore unlikely to suddenly disappear.
In advertising, every day is transfer deadline day. We deal with publisher’s different artwork and booking deadlines 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Like football fans that stand in stadium car parks trying to catch a glimpse of late additions, we actually enjoy the fast paced nature of getting important ads booked in before a window closes. But this comes with its own series of risks. With too much pressure and too little time it might just be that meeting that deadline becomes impossible. See Jermaine Defoe for example, who failed to push through a deadline day move to QPR from the MLS side Toronto FC yesterday if social media rumors are to be believed!
So how do we avoid disappointment? There is no definitive answer but here at WSA we have 5 principals which have served us well in maintaining our excellent record of meeting deadlines:
1) Be an Advocate of Organisation – A tidy and well-structured desk and PC is the first step to keeping on top of our busy work load.
2) Work Fast but Never Rush – If we can do it now, we do it now. Prioritise, don’t compromise.
3) Preach Quality Control – Check and double check everything. It takes longer to revisit a mistake later than it does to scan thoroughly and potentially spot one early on.
4) Create Extra Reminders – To do lists, calendar alerts and alarms in advance of deadlines keep us from scrambling with minutes to spare.
5) Set our own Deadlines – Maintain a strict order of time frames and set our own personal deadline in advance of actual deadlines. This gives us breathing space if anything goes wrong and has given us a reputation for reliability and consistency.
Whilst we all like to conclude business at the earliest opportunity, there are too many factors to make that possible every single time; we understand our client’s busy nature and do our best to accommodate any and all needs, even when the clock is ticking.
We look forward to booking your next advertisement soon, whatever deadline we need to work with you to hit.