Put a time on it

SNL (Saturday Night Live—a late-night live comedy sketch show, for the young and uninitiated) has enjoyed four decades on the air. If you’re part of SNL’s staff, you can’t get an extension for whatever you’re working on. You can’t claim you need more time to “get it perfect.” Saturday night at 11:30 p.m. sharp, the show goes on air. Live. To millions of viewers. As Lorne Michaels, its co-creator and current producer, has often been quoted as saying, “The show doesn’t go on because it’s ready; it goes on because it’s eleven-thirty.”

If you regularly plan to get things done “soon” only to find yourself finally delivering not-so-soon after, try treating your work like a Saturday Night Live episode. Make a specific deadline with a date and time. And treat it like a live television show that will go on air with or without you.

You might find yourself a lot more productive and reliable when you put a time on your promises.