In an article on the Havard Business Review blog, Whitney Johnson wrote what she learned about procrastination in the course of writing her book, “Dare, Dream, Do”:
“I had always thought of procrastination as a bad actor, anxiety even worse. But in analyzing what I thought were merely stall tactics, I've come to realize that the anxiety caused by procrastination is actually a critical component to innovation. Research supports this. Anxiety, in the right quantities, can propel us forward. According to the Journal of Management, NASA scientists and engineers found that performance increases as deadlines shorten, but when the deadlines became too short, performance declined. Dr. Ellen F. Weber, award-winning founder of Mita Brain Center, states: "while frustration or fear can flood the brain with cortisol, if anxiety is managed properly, anticipation can produce that feel-good dopamine that primes the pump of progress, or innovation." In other words, as the deadline neared, my apprehension around the to-do list actually wasn't just outweighed by the pull of the commitments I'd made to my editor, publicist, and to myself, the anxiety per se helped increase the pull.”
I’ve found the same thing. The challenge is getting the timing right. If you become too confident that you work best under a short deadline you may find that you’ve left it too late to do your best work.
One solution: break the task down into smaller chunks, each with its own deadline. If you leave one chunk too late, you can correct your course with the next one.