Do you thrive on that half-panicked, adrenaline-fuelled motivation that hits you right before something is due? Whether it’s an exam, an assignment, a blog or a newsletter… if an imminent deadline is instantly inspirational for you, then you suffer from “the night-before” motivation.
When I was a university student, I confess, I almost never did this. Of course there were some exceptions. One memory that sticks out is an essay about the Castle of Otranto, which I totally did last minute and… it bombed (by my standards, I think I got 60% or something like that). Exceptions like that impressed upon me a super important lesson – I never did my best work the night before. Although the deadline got me off my butt and creating, it wasn’t the best it could be.
But… mea culpa, when I discovered that I slipped from those lofty expectations of myself, and started to fall into the habit of creating things the night before for my business, I was disappointed.
So I find myself asking well what has changed since?
Unearthing different motivators
I decided I needed to get to the bottom of this. What had changed from University to now? What did I find motivating then, that I’ve seen forgotten?
I was shocked when I sat down to do some thinking about this topic that one of my main motivators in University was good grades. So, I was obsessed with setting and exceeding benchmark expectations for myself. But when it comes to creating business content, it’s not quite the same. There’s no 70% written on a blog post and handed back to me with comments. Sure there’s data and performance of pieces of content that can kind of act like grading.
So one motivator for me was setting and exceeding benchmarks.
Another motivator was creating something good. Of course this is intimately tied in with the first point, but something I’ve discovered with business content creation, is the week to week stuff tends to b e quite short. So it can feel like a waste of time sinking a lot of effort into creating something good. Unlike a 3000 word assignment, a 700 word blog post or a 50 word Facebook status seems, well, so small, so insignificant.
So my second motivator is creating things of value.
How to conquer the last-minute dash?
I’m guessing that I am not the only one who suffers from the night before motivation.
So what do we do? Well here’s what I’m proposing for myself, and it might work for you too.
First, work out what other things motivate you outside of a deadline. Whether it’s creating something awesome, doing well, having room to breathe, etc. You might need to dig deep on this one. Think of times where you were organised, on top of your game and not rushing everything last minute. What were you inspired and motivated by?
Prioritise those motivators. What do you need to do to make those motivators come to the forefront?
So for me, I need to think about creating a valuable piece of content that will be received well by my audience and do statistically well. That motivator isn’t tied to publishing on a deadline.
Does that mean deadlines don’t matter?
Nope, deadlines are still important. But if you’re motivated by things outside of the deadline, you’ll feel more inspired to create them ahead of time, rather than in the nick of time.
So, for example, if you publish a blog every Wednesday, you might like to think about giving yourself the space to write an awesome blog and draft 4 posts in one sitting. Revise them a couple of days later. And schedule them for the following month. So, write your February blogs in January and schedule them during January.
And there we have it. Some of my tips around conquering the urge to create content last minute. Do you use any of these techniques? Do you do something different? Let me know in the comments below!