So that deadline is here, just around the corner, peaking through the window, or staring in your face. It is well time to panic, or throw your pen against a wall and sigh ‘fuck it’.
I cannot count the number of times I have found myself flirting with a deadline, a mockery of a danse macabre, knowing that missing it will be my doom, that postponing the preparations is not wise, that thinking I can wing it is ridiculous and naive.
An essay, a proposal, a job application, and interview, an email, if it requires some preparation and effort, I am sure to put it off. Why? Maybe I am an adrenaline junkie. There is something to be said for the rush I feel when I push myself in the twenty fifth hour to complete a project, when I hit send half an hour before the deadline. It is true, I like pushing myself, to see just how much I can accomplish in a short period of time, just how much quality I can cram into the shortest quantity of time.
But it is not advisable, nor enviable, to leave things to the last minute. It is unprofessional, and it belies my often proudly cited organisation and time management skills. Oh, I do get to the drawing board, and draft an action plan for most of my projects. And then re-draft, and then colour code, and then tick box list it, and then get the post its and marker pens and highlighters and all the frixion pens out. I spend anything between an hour and a day, planning and re-planning and drafting and outlining, while I still barely formulated my message, while I have yet to do the research.
It should be simple. Come up with a short plan. Research the main points. Arrange message in some order. Fill it in, buff it out, dress it up. Review, edit, polish, submit.
Instead, I plan what I should do, and end up running out of time to perfectly execute it because I wasted too much precious hours procrastinating. A perfect example is my tick box plan for my dissertation – a beautiful, multi-levelled, priority- and content-hierarchy designed grid of what each section should include, what formatting I need to do, what steps I need to take before submitting. By the time it came to actually finalising my dissertation, I was so tired and fed up and running out of time that I never even looked at the grid and the tick boxes. Later, after I submitted and sighed with relief and slept on it, I opened up my perfect check list and realised that most of the steps I drafter were in fact unnecessary and redundant.
So what is the lesson here? I guess, to me it appears that procrastination is my sweet enemy. I love engaging in it, but it’s counter-productive and hinders my progress. Sure, having an action plan, doing the leg work, and being prepared is extremely important. If one needs a to-do list to remember these, then so be it. But spending time writing to do lists about what one should do, instead of doing it, is never really going to work.
Now that I imparted my words of clichéd wisdom, I shall go and tick off the box that I wrote this post.