Thursday, January 10, 2008

Deadlines suck

I don't like deadlines, at least not in my personal life.

Professionally, they're a necessary evil. It's a part of life in the printing industry. You need to get your product to press by a certain time to get it out on the streets by a certain time. And to get it to press on time, you need to make sure that every other phase in its production is done in time. So week after week, day after day, there's deadlines.

In fact, I've been working in newspaper for so long I don't think I could get anything done at work without a deadline looming over my shoulder. And maybe that's why I hate deadlines so much when I finally get home.

I was laying on the sofa tonight, trying to read, and I just couldn't keep my eyes open. I was tired, wanting to nap a little, but I was trying to push my way through the book anyway. Because I was thinking, "You've got to get this done. This is reading time. Which is followed by surfing the 'Net time. Which is followed with some writing time. And then you have to go to bed."

And I suddenly realized that my whole evening was being governed by some set of self-imposed deadlines. So I promptly set the book aside, closed my eyes, and napped for an hour. Because, fuck deadlines.

I guess what struck me to was the stark contrast between today and yesterday -- which was my day off, and a day without any deadlines at all. Today, by 7:00 p.m., it seemed like that end of the day was rapidly closing in on me and I had to make sure I accomplished everything that needed accomplishing before it arrived. Yestarday, by 7:00 p.m., the day was still young, there was still so much that could be done, and there was no pressure -- self-imposed or otherwise -- about when it should be done.

Which got me to thinking. Is there a middle ground here?

How am I going to actually accomplish the sort of self-improvement projects that I'd like to do if I don't impose some sort of routine or schedule or...well, or deadline. How can I make sure I get some writing done each day if I don't say, "You have to sit down no later than 11:00 p.m. and start writing some shit down, whatever it is."

Is that even possible?

When I'm deadline free, stuff *can* get done. I had a fantastic day a few weeks back where I house-cleaned, took a walk with the dog, got some writing in, and *still* had time for video games and movies.

Unfortunately, most of my deadline free days don't go like that, as much as I wish they would. And if I try to force them into being that way, then I'm pretty much just imposing the same deadlines on myself that drive me so nuts when I impose them on myself.

It's nothing I can't live with, nothing I'm going to lose any sleep over, but at the same time it's at least a little annoying to think that, as much as I want to, I really can't have it both ways -- it's either deadlines, or non-productivity. I guess that's the way of the world.

No comments: