If you are into finding great deals on trips away, or if you are one of those people who loves to drop everything and jet off on the spur of the moment, last minute is great. And the online holiday brand that has co-opted that phrase does a sterling job of saving people money on hotel bookings when prices on vacant rooms are slashed, erm last minute.
But the problem is, the whole lastminute.com ethos – leave it late and everything will be great – seems to have permeated beyond the world of holidays and hotel bookings where it has a very clear and justified purpose. That is not the fault of anyone connected with that particular company, of course. It is an indication of a trend in people’s mindsets that perhaps no one can control.
Sadly, too many of us have become a bit too lastminute.com in a lot of what we do.
In the workplace, this is a worrying trend. Leaving everything to the last minute – what before the arrival of the aforementioned holiday bookings company we might have called procrastination – definitely does not always end great. It leads to rushed, sloppy work, unnecessary stress, missed deadlines, confrontations and recriminations.
You can spot when someone has been a bit too lastminute.com over a piece of work a mile off. They try to cut corners in an attempt to make up for the shortage of time they have left themselves. It will be glaringly obvious that they haven’t proofread a document. There will be a lack of the kind of depth and nuance you would usually expect. Things will be said that don’t really make sense, a product of not taking the time to think through concepts.
Yes we all lead busy lives, yes we have mounting workloads. But the old saying is, if a job is worth doing, it is worth doing properly. As individuals, we have to ask ourselves about the importance of our own professional reputations – do we want to be known as that person who produces average work and is regularly in a state of mild panic because they always leave things to the last minute?
As employers, we have to ask ourselves about performance and output in our organisation – if workloads are piling up to the extent where people can’t help but take a lastminute.com approach, what is this actually doing to the quality of service we provide, our reputation and our bottom line?
Time online, not on our hands
It is not a certainty that workloads are the main culprits for pushing us into this last minute mindset at work. We seem to be adept at making ourselves busy in all areas of our lives, putting off and neglecting tasks at home too. So what is making us so busy?
When you consider that it is now estimated that the average adult spends more than 24 hours a week online – yes, a full day – we start to get a suggestion of the answer. That figure has doubled in a decade and includes an average of two hours a day on social media. So it is not as if our time is being eaten up by essential tasks.
Social media itself offers a perfect demonstration of that too-busy-to-think mindset that drives lastminute.com culture – firing off that ill-thought-out post that you really wish you could retract the next day. Usually sent when you are in bed after a couple of glasses of wine and should be sleeping.
Back in the work context, we see a similar issue with people sending poorly-worded emails that either create confusion or come across as having an abrupt, not particularly courteous tone. Or then there is the old chestnut of copying in the wrong people on a confidential message. It is all about being in a rush, all about the last minute mindset, but it smacks of not being professional and/or not caring enough.
If we feel we’re stuck in a last minute rut, if we feel like we are on a slippery slope where we never have the time for things like quality and maintaining high professional standards, then we need to be thinking carefully about what it is we are doing with our time. And there’s the Catch-22 – if we had the time to think about what we were doing, everything wouldn’t be so last minute.