So far, so good. Although my considerable list of pending work has been sliced down to a much more manageable size, deadlines are still right around the corner. The last two tasks on my list of things to do right now (as opposed to a standard “to do” list) are actually not due until Tuesday at 5 p.m. - 24 hours later than I had mistakenly believed originally. I discovered this fairly early on so that I was able to adjust my schedule accordingly. There’s no need to rush this stuff - yet.
And there in lies the problem. I have written about procrastination on numerous occasions and recently - again - I have come to some conclusions. There is a slightly more comprehensive understanding this time, perhaps, such that the solution to this perceived problem might reside in that very perception. In other words, I might have been tormenting myself with unnecessary worry when all along there was no problem. Confused? Allow me…
I was talking with my friend last night regarding matters of procrastination. I explained that I had this and that to do, I was up against the clock again and how I knew I would get my tasks completed on time. Furthermore, if recent history were any indication, the quality would meet or exceed expectations. Then it hit me. Why would I use the available time between assignment and due date to unnecessarily stress on what is still on the distant horizon?
There are only two ways to eliminate that stress: Complete the task ahead of schedule or accept that I need so much time to do the work and allow for just that much time - no more. I know through repeated experience that the first option will not work with me. Despite my sincerest intentions to complete a task well in advance of the due date, it almost never happens. Exceptions would be situations in which too much is due at the same time and tasks must be prioritized in order to have the time to complete them all.
Acceptance appears to be the key. Why fight it? Why spend hours, days, even weeks and months thinking about what I have to do in the future. I not only will not do it before it’s necessary, I can’t. While talking with my friend last night, I realized that without even knowing it, I have come to this place of acceptance. And it fits in with so much more of my unique personality (all of our personalities are unique, but that is a rant for another day). It validates my need for excitement and urgency. I am at my best, my most focused, in “the zone” when the pressure is on.
I can’t create it synthetically, but I can mitigate the downside risk, i.e. failing to complete the assignment. As I get more in tune with this characteristic and maybe even understand why I go down this road time and time again, I can knowingly accommodate this need for urgency while at the same time allow for sufficient time to complete the work. It takes practice, sure, and the risk of the unexpected is still there, but if properly planned for, all can be finished on time and with the quality enhancing urgency I require in my work.
Of course, there are some things that always have a flexible, indeterminate or translucent deadline. Those tasks that can be done "whenever" still have to be done. There are also those optional tasks that never have to be done, such as these very words. How, pray tell, would I ever get anything done without a firm deadline. I don’t know about anyone else, but for me these things fall into a different class. Indeed, perhaps “task” or “job” or even “work,” as these terms denote a goal with a time frame, are not the best descriptors. They don’t occupy a place on the list of things to do right now, but rather reside on the standard “to do” list. That way, I can do it all.