Skip to Main Content

The Deadline Effect


'I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.' So said author Douglas Adams - but what if there was a way of making deadlines work for you and using them to ensure others provide you with what you want when you want it?

In Christopher Cox's brilliant new book, he looks at the impact deadlines have on us, and how we can use them to deliver the best results for all parties. Social scientists have revealed that most negotiations run right up to the deadline before a deal is finally struck. What they also discovered was that this deadline effect usually results in a worse deal for both parties. Cox shows you how, instead, the deadline effect can be used to bring about success not failure.

The truth is that most of us think of deadlines all wrong. They aren’t immutable laws of nature; they are a game we can play - and win. This book will show you the strategies different workplaces have come up with to do just that. They are the businesses and individuals who are rehabilitating the deadline effect, taking the urgency it provides and jettisoning all the down-to-the-wire nonsense. Based on his own experience as a magazine commissioning editor, where coaxing writers to deliver on time is an art form, he also embeds himself in other businesses, such as a ski patrol ahead of the first day of the winter season, to see how they meet deadlines that cannot be missed. 

Above all, this book is an argument to embrace the power of deadlines. When time is limited, people are less wasteful, more focused, productive and creative. It’s a liberating realisation: excellence and timeliness are not at odds, and the deadline effect can be highly effective.


Nadya Wasylko

Christopher Cox has written about politics, business, books, and science for The New York Times Magazine, GQ, Harper’s, Wired, and Slate. In 2020, he was named a Knight Science Journalism Fellow at MIT and a visiting scholar at NYU’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute. He was formerly the chief editor of Harper’s Magazine and executive editor of GQ, where he worked on stories that won the Pulitzer Prize, the PEN Literary Award for Journalism, and multiple National Magazine Awards. Cox was raised in Atlanta, Georgia, and went to college at Harvard University and graduate school at the University of Cambridge. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, Georgia, and their two daughters, Carson and Alice.

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK (July 8, 2021)
  • Length: 320 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781471190469

'Cox intertwines behavioural science, psychological theory, and academic studies with compelling storytelling and descriptive case studies.'

– Financial Times

'The good that we can make deadlines work for us instead of the other way around. Mr Cox has a wry touch . . . and a good eye for detail.'

– Wall Street Journal

'Fascinating... Cox’s profiles are full of insight and the observational flare of excellent magazine writing... This entertaining guide to the art of getting things done gets it done with style.' 

– Publishers Weekly

'The Deadline Effect is filled with case studies that are smart, fun to read, and filled with drama. And most important, there are real lessons here: about how to work more creatively and efficiently, and how the ticking clock of a deadline often pushes us to do our best work.'

– Charles Duhigg, bestselling author of The Power Of Habit and Smarter Faster Better

'Cox is a zealous proselytiser of "the deadline effect" - the transformative work that happens at the eleventh hour... It's only by mentally manipulating ourselves to act early and often that we can ever do spectacular things... Though Cox may have learned his tricks as a deadline enforcer, he knows better than to preach without practice.'

– Rachel Syme, New Yorker

'Christopher Cox is highly lucid and a quick learner, who also happens to be skilled at explaining big ideas through stories. The examples are wildly various and creative, and each features high stakes: will the Easter lilies be ready to ship on time? Will the new restaurant open on schedule? Will the box store be prepared for the crush of Black Friday? A wry and literate how-to, a counterphobic look at the deadlines we fear yet couldn’t live without.'

– Ted Conover, Professor and Director, Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute of NYU

'In the eternal battle between human beings and the clock, Christopher Cox’s The Deadline Effect offers a compulsively readable truce. In these seven vivid profiles of organisations under extreme stress, The Deadline Effect addresses a common conundrum with unusual insight. They say if you want something done, give it to the busiest person in the office but if you want to know how it gets done, give it to Christopher Cox.'

– Sloane Crosley, author of Look Alive Out There

'In The Deadline Effect, writer and magazine editor Christopher Cox has set out to better understand the way we respond to deadlines, how they can at once be stressful and clarifying experiences, and if there’s a way to trick ourselves into the latter without any of the former.'

– LitHub, 'Nonfiction Books You Should Read This Summer'