In Praise of the Deadline


It’s been awhile, but I have worked with people who hate deadlines. I think they’re fantastic, however unrealistic some of them turn out to be. Why? Because they help me keep my work in order and moving along.

You know why having no deadlines is bad for a writer? The “Someday” syndrome. “Some day I’ll get around to writing that novel” being the most common example in my life. If I don’t have a deadline–more importantly, a deadline by someone else–a project will sit there in the laptop or lurking around as a stray idea in my head, always pushed aside for more crucial activities that have a deadline.

The Einstein quotation above tries to explain why time exists at all in the universe. I submit that having no deadlines is equivalent to everything happening at once. You might have a dozen projects sitting on your desk, but if none of them has a deadline, the odds are that none of them are a priority. Time marches on, and our finite lives continue to march inevitably from the crib to the casket. We have to do something right now–what’s it going to be? If you don’t have anyone imposing deadlines on you, you need to impose them on yourself and use your finite time usefully and productively.

Put another way, if everything is a priority, then nothing is a priority. So if money or effort or some other factor can’t move you to set priorities and work, just keep an eye on the clock. It will remind you, minute by minute, that you can’t sit there doing nothing or everything at once. You need to make the most of the time that’s in front of you right now.

About Bart Leahy

Freelance Technical Writer, Science Cheerleader Event & Membership Director, and an all-around nice guy. Here to help.
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