You’re negotiating a project. You’re hashing out deadlines. What day of the week should you ask for?
Fridays are a common choice; you finish the week and the project at the same time. If you finish early, maybe you go out to celebrate without worrying about the next morning’s meetings.
But, years ago, a veteran negotiator gave me some counterintuitive advice: Ask for Mondays instead.
Here’s the reasoning. Most likely, whoever receives your project on Friday won’t look at it until Monday anyway. Asking for a Monday deadline is an easy way to gain more time. It can also give you space for reflection. You pound away on the project until Friday, take a breather, then give it another glance Sunday night to polish and see things you might have missed before. You turn in something better on Monday morning. Work that doesn’t look rushed scores you new work in the future.
Of course, that presumes you will have mostly finished your project by Friday. That leads us to the downside of Monday deadlines, which was written about recently by Jessica Hische, a freelance illustrator and self-described “procrastiworker.” As she attempted to build a productive “ultra-schedule,” she decided that rule No. 1 was no deadlines on Mondays.
“If there is a deadline on Monday, and you are prone to procrastinating/procrastiworking like me, you are most definitely working on the weekend,” she writes. In the best-case scenario, it’s just a few hours. In the worst-case scenario, you work all weekend long. Then, once you turn in your project, rather than have the weekend to recuperate, you’re plunged into the regular workweek. People can procrastinate before Thursday or Friday deadlines too, but at least the days that follow can be low-key.
This question really comes down to knowing yourself, or knowing your team members if you’re setting deadlines for other people. If you’re working with experienced sorts who have a long history of pacing themselves, Monday deadlines can be a courtesy. If you or the people you work with find that inspiration tends to strike at the last minute, then deadlines late in the week are the way to go. Anything else leads to people getting burned out.