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Monday, February 27, 2012

Deadlines

Do you work well under the pressure of a deadline? I do. If I have all the time in the world, I put things off. (Just ask my husband. I drive him crazy.) When I have a deadline—even a self-imposed one—I do so much better and accomplish so much more.

Some people are very organized. They plan ahead, parse out what needs to be done when and seem very relaxed when the deadline arrives. Like my sister who packs a whole week before leaving on vacation. Me? I’m still washing the clothes I want to take the night before leaving. Or how about the hostess who has the table set before the guests arrive—even family. I’m working on that. When we had several family members over to celebrate my husband’s birthday, I didn’t wait for my four-year-old granddaughter to “help Nana” set the table—maybe because we were using my good china. Not really. I had decided I wanted to enjoy the company instead of doing tasks that could be done ahead of time. That was so not my normal routine.

My daughter puts me to shame with how organized she is. Once we were talking about an invitation to a wedding and she said she always puts the respond card in the mail the day after it comes. Holy cow! I’m usually trying to find the card right before it’s due. That got me thinking about how I deal with mail. Organizers say to touch a piece of mail once—toss it, pay it, file it. Yeah, right. I am getting better about tossing junk mail. Deciding between what’s junk and what needs to be paid is the easy part. It's the "I might want to do something with” mail that's the hard part. Of course, I’d rather “junk” the bills, too, but credit card and utility companies frown on that.

I try. I’m trying harder to be organized. But I think I’m missing a relay in my brain. You know, the one that triggers an immediate reaction to a task. On second thought, I do have a reaction. My brain says “you’ve got plenty of time, you don’t need to get started yet.” Then, I always underestimate the amount of time a task will take. If I’m supposed to leave at a certain time, I try to do one too many things before then race around at the last minute.

Now here’s the weird thing. I procrastinate terribly in my personal life only. It’s different with my work. At every job I had, I could see what needed to be done, worked up a schedule and completed the task ahead of time. I do the same with my writing. Instead of my boss telling when a task needs completion, I set my own deadlines. When you self-publish, you don’t have an editor (or agent) setting deadlines for you. Posting this blog each Monday is a self-imposed task which (so far) I’ve been able to accomplish. I’m amazed at how much I can accomplish when I have a deadline. Now, if I could only parlay this into my everyday life.

How about you? Are you organized or a procrastinator?

6 comments:

  1. I'm organized in everything except my writing, lol! I am a little OCD about most things, but when it comes to writing I'm a total pantser and it drives the OCD side of me crazy! I've learned to compromise by writing a few chaps then go back and take notes so it feels organized, lol.
    Great post, Diane!!

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  2. Hi Diane. What a juicy topic.

    I just love deadlines. They are the valentines of life. They mean someone considered me competent enough to assign me expectations. How I get it done--like Mid-Michigan Mirror in the long ago--is my little secret.

    Hope you all and I never run out of deadlines. All the best, Annette

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  3. I definitely work best under deadlines, either real or self-imposed. Unlike you, that was also true at work, but there it seemed we always had a deadline looming. Today I only have two more days to finish a read-through on my latest wip in process, so I guess I'd better get to it if I'm going to meet that deadline.

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  4. Oh I wish I could be organized and I chuckle at your comment wondering where you lay the card...I do the same thing. Always wait until the last minute. If there is a mistake or something I'm usually up the creek because I've wasted valuable time by not opening the letter. A long time ago I was more together. But after the family got rolling, the speed of life picked up.

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  5. I need to have a deadline for everything, otherwise NOTHING gets done! I usually make a "to do" list each morning, with the most urgent things on top. Eventually, most of the things that need to get done make it to the top of the list. Nice post, Diane. Have a great time on your trip!

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  6. Ah, Mom, thanks. I'm not that organized...ask my husband! Two kids, two jobs, and volunteer life makes me appear more organized than I am. You're the one who taught me the joys of the color coordinated calendar. I just keep mine online. :)

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