Saturday, January 06, 2007

Curious about Deadline(s): Do You Set Them for Yourself? Do You Love, Like or Hate Working on Them?

I am one of those people who thrive on deadlines, nothing brings on inspiration more readily than desperation.” - Harry Shearer, American actor

A goal is a dream with a deadline.” - Napoleon Hill, American writer

As someone who sets deadlines for herself, I find that by having a deadline I accomplish what I have committed to. Without my attention to deadlines, I am not sure that my weekly and/or monthly e-newsletters would arrive on time. I know other writers and freelancers who set and work on deadlines for the same reasons.

However, I have been amazed by the number of people who not only dislike, but actually hate deadlines. On my “Portfolio Career” Self Test I include the statement, “I enjoy working on deadlines.” A large number of respondents - close to the majority - choose the “least true” on a scale of 1 to 5.

Why do I include this statement? It is because we are presently part of a culture that values “speed.” Clients are looking for what they want, usually as quickly as possible, as long as the work is done well. One of my selling points as a web developer/designer is my quick turn-around, especially for updates and maintenance.

This is also the time of year when goals and goal setting get a lot of attention. Most proponents of traditional goal setting suggest that we make our goals timely. That we do set a deadline to work toward. Others say not to. I feel strongly that we should follow what works for us. You and I are unique. So, if you work better under the pressure of a deadline, name one for your goal(s). But, just don’t become discouraged and give up if you reach that date and are close to achieving it, but not quite. Too many become discouraged just before a great outcome. My advice to you is to keep on keeping on!

In checking what the experts have to say about deadline(s), I was surprised by many of the negative spins and the stated reactions to deadlines - some good, but many not good.

Reactions to working on a deadline include:

  • Without deadlines and restrictions I just tend to become preoccupied with other things.” - Val Kilmer, American actor
  • Journalist: a person without any ideas but with an ability to express them; a writer whose skill is improved by a deadline: the more time he has, the worse he writes.” - Karl Kraus, Austrian writer
  • If I'm right in the middle of a deadline, I'm up really early.” - Marilu Henner, actress
  • Call me a braggart, call me arrogant. People at ABC (and elsewhere) have called me worse. But when you need the job done on deadline, you'll call me.” - Sam Donaldson, American journalist
  • I have a deadline. I'm glad. I think that will help me get it done.” - Michael Chabon, American author

Then, there were those who question the quality of work performed under deadlines:

  • Everybody in the real world will agree - the moment a project is behind deadline, quality assurance tends to go out the window.” - Alan Cox, inventor
  • A harsh reality of newspaper editing is that the deadlines don't allow for the polish that you expect in books or even magazines.” - Bill Walsh, American coach
  • Be able to meet any deadline, even if your work is done less well than it would be if you had all the time you would have preferred.” - Marilyn vos Savant, American writer

Of those who dislike deadlines:

  • One forges one's style on the terrible anvil of daily deadlines.” - Emile Zola, French novelist
  • I don't deal with deadlines very well.” - Sarah McLachlan, Canadian musician
  • I didn't like the deadline pressure. I didn't like being under some assignment editor's thumb.” - Charles Kuralt, American journalist
  • The lifestyle that an artist can have, the freedom to wander in the landscape with no real pressure or deadlines, was a very attractive one.” - John Dyer, Welsh poet

So, I wonder how you feel about deadlines. Do you use them to advantage? Or do you rail against them?

To add a bit of humor and lightness to your week:

I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.” - Douglas Adams, English writer

Do let me know what you think. I love getting feedback.