Deadlines are the lines drawn in the sand, the air, and on calendars. They are imaginary lines past which one should not go, or you’ll die. Die of what? Failure? Disappointment? Losing a job? Not answering a need? Shame?
Deadlines are a form of communication. “I need this by noon so we can move forward on the project.”
There should be no room for negotiation in a deadline. There is no room for negotiation in death, is there? So why do people push up against deadlines by crushing the work to be done up against the wall of the deadline? To see if it will move? Will it give in like a loose door, or an unsure mother or father? Kids know this instinctively. Will the rules change if we keep ignoring them? Will Mom and Dad change their minds? Will my manager forget? Will the rule/deadline go away in the rush of life?
Some of us use faraway deadlines like beacons for purposeful activity, plotting steps from A to B in the final goal to arrive at Point Z. Others of us assume that there’s still plenty of time and that there’s no use getting all excited — nothing can be gained by starting too early, they say. It wastes time to start too soon, they say. Besides, working under the pressure of a close deadline works in in their favor, they think, as in, “I work better because I’m more focused if time is short.”
Oh? What if your computer breaks? What if the electricity goes out? What if you get sick? What if?
I like deadlines. I like setting up a meeting… it gives me a deadline. I like to be early, to have room and time to make one last pass, one final reading, a once over to see if I left a sponge in the abdomen of my patient before they wake up. (I wanted to see if you were paying attention!)
There’s the Leonard Bernstein quote to throw in here, too. “To achieve great things two things are needed: a plan and not quite enough time.” I think that’s the reason deadlines are SO important. Somewhere along the creative lines of life, the concept of not quite enough time leads us to finality. If we didn’t have deadlines, we would continue to fix, trim, and self-edit until nothing ever, ever was produced. “Perfect is the enemy of good,” as they say. Someone has to say those two wonderful words, “It’s done!”
I like the pressure and excitement of a looming deadline, but sometimes, just sometimes, I procrastinate… to feel that teeny rush. Shucks. My cover is blown.
I write about the things that I would like to do better—largely because I’m not perfect. See my recent blog on “Perfect” if you’re so inclined. Meanwhile, I have a deadline.