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Sometimes the responses I receive to my posts are so much better than the post itself I just have to share. After reading yesterday's post about Hofstadter’s law, reader Bret Jenkins wrote what I consider to be one of the more insightful replies I have read in a long time. His words ring true.
As a teacher I discovered that students will take longer only because they procrastinate. A term paper doesn’t take a term to write. Most students do the majority of the hard work during the last week or even last night before the end of the term. Breaking the term paper into little chunks doesn’t work. Sure the outline is due during week 8, followed by a thesis statement on week ten, five sources by week twelve and so on, but the average student will wait until the very last day it’s due. At HP my stepdad experienced exactly the same habit. A three-month project takes three months, but if you placed a deadline of six months on that exact same project it will take six months. Theater production and film production are the same. Everyone is rushing during the last week and wishing they had more weeks to get it together, but without an opening date I honestly wonder if the play would ever be ready. Prom tickets and after prom tickets also work this way. Put the tickets on sale for five days, 80% of the purchases come on the last day. Retail sales experience upticks on the last day or two of a sale. Limited time offers work on this same psychology. We wait until the limit is almost up and then buy. There are however, exceptions. Music concerts. No matter how long or how short dates are for buying David Lee Roth tickets, you’ll never sell them all. Elton John tickets disappear only days if not hours from first beginning minute of ticket sales. Then there are engineers and general contractors. When they tell you it will be six months, you hear twelve and after the 12th month, you begin to realize that the number was actually closer to 18 months. Frustrated and annoyed you nonetheless accept this as reality. Lots to think about here.
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Paul McGowan

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