As I write this, I have roughly 4 hours before I need to submit it. That deadline has been firmly burned into my subconscious for the last two weeks, as dozens of others have loomed and zoomed past me.
I need deadlines. In every aspect of my life. I need the adrenaline of one fast approaching to paralyse me with fear at my keyboard and get me writing, I need that sense of foreboding and fear creeping up the back of my neck to travel down my arms to my fingers so that they move that much more rapidly. I need the urgency, the finality, the threat of consequence.
But I also need someone else to enforce deadlines – because ultimately, like most people, I am exceptionally good at procrastinating. There are dozens of articles and advice books out there telling us how to “GET UP AND GO FOR IT!” “ATTACK PROJECTS” “STOP POSTPONING, START LIVING!” but in absolute honesty – the only time this really sinks in is when someone else is riding you and bugging you and nagging you to reach a deadline.
I'm fortunate that for me, it's my business partner. If I'm the monkey, she's the organ grinder – and that is exactly how it needs to be. Deadlines can panic me and stress me. But on my own, I am capable of a million creative ways to postpone, defer, stretch them out or 'push back'. With my business, that's a habit I can't indulge because I face the reality that I could let someone else down by dragging my heels – and that's something I just can't do.
Deadlines give us cut-offs, but I recommend teaming up with someone you care about and having them hold you accountable. Is it emotional manipulation? Absolutely. But if you're at a job you hate and you couldn't care less about whether this report or project is in on time – what difference will a deadline make? Find the human element and let it work to your favour – feel the threat of disappointment from someone if you don't get this done.
Or you could always read a dozen books that tell you how to get up and go for it – I'm just saying that, from experience, sometimes deadlines are a team game.