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are deadlines important?

By September 17, 2008Critical Copywriting

Um, yeah, they only make the world go ’round.

Classic Julie Roads scenario:

  1. I get a new project.
  2. It’s due in 2 weeks.
  3. I tell myself that I’ll get it done early – how great that will be!
  4. I do everything else on my to-do list for the next two weeks.
  5. I bang out the finished project with moments to spare – fueled by adrenaline.

Now, before you get all ‘ooooh, she’s irresponsible and organizationally-disabled’ on me…it’s actually nothing of the sort. In some sick and twisted way, I think that my chemical make-up in this area is partially responsible for bringing me to copywriting in the first place. I love the thrill of the deadline.

Also…my inner muse just knows that the assignment isn’t due – I can not fool it, no matter what I do. I’ve been this way since high school: give me 4 weeks to write a paper, I’ll take 4 weeks; give me 1 hour, I’ll take 1 hour – same paper, same result, no kidding.

So imagine my chagrin when one of my lovely clients hires me for a huge website re-write and, when I inquire about the deadline, he says, ‘no rush, whenever you can do it.’

Thankfully, I’m no fool. I told him that just wouldn’t do and that his project would get buried. I told him he had to give me a hard deadline.  He laughed at me for a bit, and then gave me until Friday.

If I was Homer Simpson, I believe the correct response would be ‘Doh!’ But, I’m decidedly NOT Homer Simpson…so I’m off to work on this project and convince my muse that it’s due in 1 hour.

Some tips for dealing with deadlines:

  • Make sure you have the ability to get the job done in the allotted time.
  • Factor in some ‘who knows what might happen today’ leeway.
  • Put all deadlines instantly into your calendar.
  • Put milestones and/or reminders for the project every day (or every other day) from now to the deadline in order to keep the project on your radar and hopefully to chip away at the work. (If it’s a big project, you have no choice but to work progressively.)
  • If you get blocked (or feel that you are cracking under the pressure) take a break and accomplish some easy tasks to set your ego back on track. You can do this, you are very smart and extraordinarily successful.
  • Misery loves company. Isn’t this why Twitter was created? If you need someone to yell at you, “Get to Work!” or you just want to commiserate, Tweet about it…your followers are there to help you.
  • Feed the beast! What’s your poison? Mine is popcorn with a lot of butter and sea salt, popped in coconut oil in my WhirlyPop (yes, exactly like that).
  • Remember that you have always gotten it done…and you’ll do it this time too.

Join the discussion 10 Comments

  • MyBrownBaby says:

    My God–someone who truly UNDERSTANDS the nature of the deadline and the inner muse… Every time I finish up a story or book, it feels like I’ve just given birth. Again. Indeed, it’s a glorious feeling only another writer can understand. (BTW: I can’t write a word without candy. Gummy bears. Double Bubble gum. My absolute fav? Chewy sweet tarts. The candy and the deadline get me through every time.) Great post!

  • Julie Roads says:

    Right? You can’t force these things! The magic happens when the magic happens. Great to have found you via Twitter and then to see you here!

  • --Deb says:

    Okay, I hear you and all, but … I HATE stressful deadlines. When I was in college, I’d always write down the due date for papers and such on the day before they were due, just to be sure I had a buffer built in in case the printer jammed. I can procrastinate with the best of them, but my need to have things done early outweighs my need to put them off, so I’m somewhere in the middle….

  • Julie Roads says:

    Deb. If someone had made me guess your response to deadlines – this would have been it. I love it! More power to you.

  • bill reith says:

    Hi — just a quick note to say that I really like the background you chose for your Twitter image. Very nice, indeed! (writing here because I didn’t see an email address…)

  • Julie Roads says:

    Great solution, Bill! What you can do on Twitter is message a person directly – then I would get an email with your message – still it’s limiting (140 characters and all).

    That picture was taken on South Beach, Martha’s Vineyard almost one year ago.

    Your blog is FANTASTIC! Check it people:

  • Ryan Healy says:

    Ah, yes. Deadlines. If it weren’t deadlines (both client-imposed and self-imposed), I don’t think I’d get much done.

    And I’m like you: I love the thrill of a deadline. I thrive on pressure. :-0

  • Julie Roads says:

    Hi Ryan – thanks for chiming in…This post was written in the midst of a deadline, obviously, and either true to form or because of some self-fulfilled prophecy, I struggled along all week and at the last minute, pulled it off – boom, the goods came rolling out. Don’t know why this surprises me every time…is their a pill for that?

  • I am SOOOO with you on deadlines. I actually wrote to a friend last night that I can only do things either 1) immediately (rare, but it does happen) or 2) JUST within the deadline, with a seconds to spare.

    I try to get clients to give me deadlines, but its a bit of a wishy-washy deadline then – the expectation isn’t really there and I know I can go over ….

  • Julie Roads says:

    That’s so funny that you were just talking about this issue! I’d like to say that I could change my wicked ways, but there’s no way!

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