Deadlines: Real or False?

July 29, 2016 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments

Deadlines! I discovered the hard way that many of my “deadlines” are often a state of mind and some distortion of reality.

For example, I have the type of personality that is very much influenced by being on time. The problem is, most of the time it is “my own preconceived time schedule.” Ironically, in order to reduce pressure I try to create a schedule that will allow me to complete all my tasks for the day. That way I have no pressure, right? No, it’s not right. My schedule most often results in an anxiety-ridden self-induced set of deadlines.

False Deadlines

In truth, it often matters little whether or not I adhere to MY time schedule. And, yet if I am tardy completing my tasks I feel struck with anxiety and pressure and stress. And as a result, I find myself pressing past whatever it is I am doing at the moment so I can be sure to get to the next thing on my list. In doing so, I miss out on the moment. I miss out on interaction with colleagues or time to ponder creatively how to approach a new issue or a host of other really good things.

One of two maladies occurs: I either suffer terribly from anxiety as I feel I spent my day being late, or I just do nothing. What’s fascinating is that when I fall back to the second option of totally neglecting my self-imposed schedule usually nothing bad happens. Because it was self-imposed, it most generally causes no harm to me or my projects or any other people. It is a form of self-flagellation that drives me to zombie mode, paralyzed by an unrealized fear—a fear that has no substance.

Deadlines that Matter

As I think about it, there really are only three situations that genuinely require me to be “on time:”

  1. Appointments,
  2. Completing tasks that will cause someone else to be late if I don’t deliver (both business and personal), and
  3. Transportation (airplanes, trains, ubers, etc).

Apart from those three, for me, everything else is probably a “false deadline.”

As a self-employed “solo-prenuer” my life is based on false deadlines: ones that I “just decided” I would do by a certain time and that “certain time” is just a date I made up. Please note that I do think it is important even for self-employed people to maintain some sort of rigor and timelines. I just don’t have to be so manic over it. Often it is difficult for me to differentiate between a real and a false deadline.

Perhaps what I need to do is to attempt to better understand the consequences and impacts of completing a task. And the ones with real consequences should get my attention. Anything else needs to be put in my “might-do” list.

Deadlines

Are Not Life or Death

Photo courtesy of conejota at istockphoto

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