By: Revanche

Deadlines are (mostly) good for you

December 26, 2009

I hate to admit that, honestly, because I prefer to do things when I want to.  Who doesn’t? And operating on that philosophy, housework, schoolwork and work work does get done around here.  But, like medicine, while compulsion doesn’t sound pleasant, looming deadline(s) tends to have a terrific effect on your concentration.

It turns out that while I like doing things “when I wanna” holds a certain hedonistic pleasure, it’s not the most productive, and thus – for me -ultimately satisfactory.  It’s the workaholic in me: getting lots done makes me happy.

I’ve had the pleasure of running my own routine, such as it is squeezed between travel, etc., for some months now.  There are certain tasks that must be done on specific dates. Where possible, I schedule those tasks for completion a week in advance of the due date, while treating items on the Should Do list as rolling objects from day to day. 

One area this worked quite well is for my online classes.  The syllabi, reading lists, assignments, quizzes and discussion boards were all posted during the first week of school.  Armed with this information, I could creatively schedule several weeks’ worth of schoolwork to accommodate other things, a la Hawaii. [By “creatively” I really just mean: did all the work early.]

Basically, A) I spare myself the stress of working against the clock when it matters (ie: timed quizzes and exams), and B) I create more free time at the back end in case of problems, questions, or complications.

It also works well in handling my finances. My account aggregator is good for daily and weekly check-ups, and sitting down to pay the bills once a week.  

An area where I hadn’t applied that scheduling ethic is right here on the blog.  This has always sort of been a time-sensitive blog, written on the spot and during the heat of the moment but that doesn’t necessarily equal writing worth reading. During my leisure time, I’m slowly changing that habit in the pursuit of higher quality writing; a cushion of posts would be a lovely bonus.

There’s definitely an element of “makes me feel like I’m winning” at play here as well.  If there’s a deadline and I handily beat it?  WIN.  It’s the same as that intrinsic love of rules or benchmarks

So I can make this work for me during the most unstructured time of my life.  Step by step, I’m imposing structure on my daily routines: blogging, recreational reading, “research” reading, schoolwork, even cooking, and most importantly, career development.

3 Responses to “Deadlines are (mostly) good for you”

  1. I need to save this post for my classes. One issue some students could benefit from thinking about is time management.

    For me, as an obsessive “do-it-now” type, the issue is not so much getting things done by deadline but instead understanding that things CAN be allowed to happen at a stately pace. Because I tend to feel overwhelmed with all the things that have to be done “right now” (not!), I’ve learned to build deadlines way out in front as a way to slow myself down and tackle one item at a time.

  2. I work best when I have a deadline – even moreso when that deadline is looming close. If there is no urgency to getting something done, I won’t do it.

  3. Revanche says:

    @Funny about Money: I’d be awfully proud if you did use it for your classes. 🙂

    I think that the combination of feeling like everything must be done NOW and the paralysis of feeling overwhelmed runs in my family so I’ve worked on getting past that for years. Now I’m less of a deer-in-headlights when facing a huge to-do list.

    @paranoidasteroid: I think that’s much more common than people who hate deadlines.

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