The Importance of Deadlines

Back at the end of January, facing a busier than usual season ahead of me, I decided to adjust the frequency of posts on my blog. Instead of forcing myself to post every day, as I had done as best I could for the years since I first started City of Kik, I announced that I would be a bit more lenient with my deadlines, maybe skip a day or two in order to focus on other priorities. I thought I would end up posting a new essay or review every other day, or maybe three posts a week. Instead, the last two months I've ended up posting a disappointing average of only one column a week. That's "disappointing" for me at least. It was actually almost two weeks between my last two posts. My average views for my blog are also understandably down. Knowing that I had given myself permission to blog less frequently, knowing that I "didn't have to" write something every single day, made me push off new post ideas another day...and another day...and another day. All this goes to show that having a set deadline is an incredible motivator.

The good news is that I've been very productive with my other projects -- make no mistake, I have felt extremely productive before; I never felt as if writing my blog was taking me away from other responsibilities; but, if anything, my stress level to "do it all" has gone down and now I feel more rested. I've been actually sleeping close to the recommended 7-to-8 hours a night, which I felt I hadn't been able to regularly do since the kids were born.

Having a firm deadline is imperative for any project you take seriously. When I was an undergraduate at Fordham University during the final semester of my senior year, I was juggling four stage shows, two student films, a feature-length screenplay, my other classes, and some semblance of a busy social life. Yet, I considered that to be one of the most productive times of my life, since I managed to accomplish all my goals to my complete satisfaction.

Deadlines mean nothing if I just force myself to submit shoddy work "on time." The quality of my projects needs to remain high.  It all boils down to setting realistic expectations for myself, managing my time wisely, giving the assignment the 100% effort that it deserves, and finding the time to take care of my emotional and physical health through it all.  In the end, though, having that ticking clock and set-in-stone calendar pushes me to make sure it all is done. The key is fully committing to finishing the job, but giving yourself the leeway to flex the deadline in case of an emergency or if the quality is compromised by rushing it.

Once those deadlines pass, however, and I can check off all the work I completed, it's one of the most satisfying feelings in the world.