Like most people, I’ve got deadlines to meet: articles, proposals, participant materials, contracts at work and taxes, appointments, bills, and social commitments at home. I try to plan my days so I’m not frazzled at last- minute stress. I often start things well in advance of when they are due – knowing that they require a larger chunk of time than I’ll ever get all at once. I also like to think that I’m better and my work and life would reflect that, if I gave things some considered thought.
The truth is that while I can plan for deadlines, I can’t always plan for the unexpected. Even though I know the unexpected is the very thing that messes up my plans, I still assume the best rather than the worst. And I forget that I like the ‘impromptu’ and when someone says ‘Let’s” – I often agree rather than stick to my own plan.
Inspiration and creativity required for writing, program development, and problem solving doesn’t always come on command. While I’ve gotten really good at ‘shooting from the hip,’ that’s a style that doesn’t always produce my best effort. (The phrase actually refers to being in a gunfight, shooting your gun from your hip/holster in a split second without aiming.)
I remember all too clearly, the time I was unable to come up with (what I thought) was a great beginning for a keynote presentation. In the early morning drive on the way to the event, I finally came up with a really good opening that worked so well that I’ve used it for a few other key notes over the years. But the anxiety of knowing that I didn’t have that really terrific opening for a key client and an important all-day annual meeting made for a miserable drive
The ‘deadline’ was once a real line drawn in the dirt or marked by a fence, restricting prisoners in Civil War camps who were warned, “Cross the line and you’re dead.” Newspapers quickly adopted the term so that reporters wouldn’t exceed the allotted time to write their articles and the paper could be printed on time.
Whether you are a perfectionist, a procrastinator, pulled in 20 different directions at the same time, or the person who simply walks in to find that your desk is on fire, deadlines harass us all.
Those that are not bothered by deadlines – annoy those of us that are — even more!