I woke up in the morning with one word hanging over my head. Deadline. I stuffed the breakfast in my mouth with one hand and furiously typed on the keyboard with the other.
Just ten minutes later, my head began to hurt and my eyes watered. I was pushing myself to the limit. It wasn’t doing my blood pressure any good. What if I collapsed suddenly? I just lost a friend last week and I did not want to go back to the cemetery in just less than two weeks.
I needed to take the time off. My editors would understand. It took me another five minutes to get up, fighting off years of habit of meeting the deadline, no matter what was the circumstance.
I walked out into the sunshine. It was cool and the break took the wind off the deadline pressure. As I sat under the shade of a tree, I began to wonder of all other deadlines that I pushed into the background while giving priority to just one.
Why do deadlines push us to the edge of panic and near insanity? I have tried everything to overcome the problem but nothing really has worked so far. Even some of my own advices have never really worked that well either.
“If you constantly go beyond deadlines then it’s time you decide whether you lack focus or you are just careless,” I once told my students about their projects.
Disciplined and meticulous people have no problems in that area but the like of us who turn up at the airport a few minutes before departure are the most vulnerable. The wall of a deadline, therefore, attracts the spontaneous who get their drive when their backs are pinned on the wall. Mind you, there’s always the fear that the wall may buckle under pressure to expose your failings.
Deadlines, strictly speaking, are harmless and they are a joy to meet if no pressure is involved. We unconsciously impose many deadlines all the time and sometimes we really look forward to it when they come.
Work deadlines mean anxiety and a fear of losing one’s job. How do you save yourself a headache and happily meet them?
I don’t know but to stop worrying over something you have got to do is a good start. Perhaps, by giving priority to what we dread most and pushing our favourite tasks behind may solve the problem.
There’s one clerk who used to do the filing of papers first thing in the morning before he even made himself a cup of tea. To make it work, he needed to do the important task first and treat himself later.
Perhaps deadlines are best met as early as possible when you are at your peak. Perhaps there are too many of them around and the reason they are, because we want to accomplish so many tasks in just ten or twelve hours. When I was a schoolboy, I used to watch a “mooring man” at the marina holding half a dozen ropes attached to small fibre boats at the same time. He would then tie them on wooden poles to stop them from drifting. He would do that all over again in the next six-seven hours.
He had to moor over a hundred boats a day before sunset. That was his deadline but he never saw it that way. It was just a job that he loved doing. Perhaps there is something to learn. He accepted what he had to do and pushed everything away. In other words, deadlines are just a series of tasks that need a little attention to get you through the day.
saleh al shaibany