Archive for September, 2011

When I was a little girl, during school holidays, I used to love waking up and thinking: ‘What shall I do with today?’

Some days had no deadlines. No teachers or parents telling me what to do. And I could relax. Paint a picture, read a book, write a story – whatever made me feel good. Then adult life took over, and days like that, days of infinite creative possibility, became rare.

What’s changed?

The arrival of deadlines in my life, that’s what’s happened. Deadlines set by other people. Deadlines set by me. And, now, I find, in my diary, every day has far too many deadlines flagged up. Waiting for me, before I even turn the page.

And, as soon as I do turn the page and see what’s written there, I feel the surge of adrenalin. Some times, in my youthful journalistic life, I really enjoyed that form of motivation. But now when – in my anxiety to meet the deadline – my head reels, my stomach churns and I break into a cold sweat, I think: ‘There must be another way.’

Am I alone? I don’t think so. Inside all writers is a quiet place constantly fretted by this jangle of deadlines and demands.

But – by meeting the deadlines set by others we demonstrate our professionalism. We’re also demonstrably productive. And these accolades are  worth achieving.

So how can you make deadlines work for you?

A Deadline Coping Strategy!

ü     Evaluate the success of each deadline by asking: ‘Did I produce my best work when trying to meet this deadline?’ This supplies you with insights as to your own working style and capacity for the next round of deadline negotiation.

ü     Contract for deadlines on your own behalf. You know your own obligations and responsibilities best

ü     Ensure deadlines are realistic and on a timescale you can manage – unrealistic deadlines make you ill

ü     Be assertive about your own requirements while being adaptable to the requirements of others

ü     If you have no contract – to establish your productivity schedule – set your own mini-deadlines.

And stay in control.

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