Deadlines are one of the biggest sources of stress in the workplace. Yet, many are flexible: Your manager might ask you to submit a proposal for a long-term project by Friday, but not plan to look at it until Tuesday. Could asking for more time (when we need it) be a simple way to avoid feeling panicked and overwhelmed? While it’s common to believe that pushing back a deadline might reflect poorly on us and be seen as unprofessional, we know relatively little from research about the actual consequences of asking for more time.

To better understand this, we conducted 10 experiments and a survey with nearly 10,000 employees and managers in the U.S. We found that, across occupations, asking for more time to work on an assignment was, on average, perceived positively by managers — and it reduced employees’ stress levels and improved their performance. In one survey we did, of 191 employees, we found that 95% of those who asked their manager for a deadline extension received one.

...