If it weren’t for the last minute, nothing would get done.
As a journalism student — let’s broaden that, as a college student — I was pretty amused by that quote. It was framed and hanging in the office of my journalism professor. My junior year, I was yearbook editor, and learned the hard truth. You wait to the last minute, you pay a high price.
There is a certain thrill in procrastination, and some say that’s why people do it, to get that adrenaline rush that comes from facing a deadline there’s no way you can meet. Then you do, and the surge that races through you (if you’re not dead tired) is reward enough to compensate for all, or most, of the negatives (like I mentioned, being dead tired).
There are times when you’re dependent on others to be responsible enough to meet their deadlines so you, in turn, can meet yours. Several years ago I worked as a communications manager for a major corporation in their benefits department. The company had a team of directors from numerous departments who approved all communication that went out from my department, and most of them were dependable and respectful of me, the lower-level employee making demands on their time.
Of course, one woman wasn’t so kind. In fact, she was a … . Well, you’ve all worked with the type. We had an exceptionally tight deadline, and I was depending on her to meet it. It was an absolute deadline for me, and I told her in numerous emails, a couple of phone calls and through the director of my division that whether or not I heard from her, the material had to go to press on Monday, June 7. I meant business.
That Monday came, and I hadn’t heard from her. With my director’s approval, for that matter, the support of the entire team of directors, I sent this material out.
The next morning I got a call from her assistant, who sheepishly told me Director B wanted to know what day was the REAL deadline.
“It was yesterday,” I told her, and reminded her of the multiple notifications I had sent out. In barely a whisper, she agreed I was right, but told me to expect a call.
Of course, my phone didn’t ring, my director’s did, but she was prepared. I’d like to say we won that battle, but we didn’t. We won the war, however. Director B was told by executive management she wouldn’t get a second chance next time.
We paid a high price for that situation, and here’s the thing: deadlines are deadlines for a reason. No one should have to play games by giving false dates, or give in because the other person resents being told what to do by someone lesser than her.
Of course, life happens, and sometimes deadlines are missed for legitimate reasons.
While I prioritize my projects, I no longer operate on the premise “it’s not a crisis, so I have plenty of time.” That doesn’t mean I’m not scrambling at the last minute with some projects, but that can’t always be helped. And admittedly, sometimes I just don’t feel like doing whatever it is I’m supposed to be doing, and I knit instead (obviously, that’s for projects I’m working on at home). I do my best to keep those times from being a habit, and I also avoid having deadlines with my knitting.
I only wish there was some funny quote for sparing myself the drama of procrastination.
Image Credits (calendar) © grublee — Bigstock; (girl at desk) © marinabh — Adobe Stock