Deadly Deadlines

“Deadline”. That’s a word each and every one of us dread. I can safely say that it is the one thing humans fear maybe even more than death. Yet deadlines continue to surround us from all sides. An important project due the next day, a report you kept pending for months, lying on your table unfinished. Deadlines are inevitable, and especially in this fast-paced, advanced world, keeping up deadlines can often mean the difference between life and death.

Everybody in the real world will agree that the moment a project is behind deadline, quality assurance tends to go out the window. So does that mean, deadlines actually lead to a decline in the way we go about our work? When a report or a project suddenly has a deadline, however far away it may be, does it change the way we look at it? Once again, it all depends on the perspective.

The ever enthusiastic optimist might argue, it doesn’t really make a difference. Or even if it does, it helps us go about it with more determination and effort, and it drives us to put in more effort into it. However the vast majority of us agree that once a deadline is set, completion of the work becomes so much important that we don’t even care about the quality of our work.

Therefore, we can say that they are just two sides of the same coin. I think the “what-if” factor is what makes deadlines so deadly. Much like the fear of impending death scares people more than death itself, the days leading to a deadline are the most nerve-wracking and stressful. And this is when people tend to make mistakes and freak out. This is where the issue of procrastination comes in.

As aptly said by Christopher Parker, “procrastination is like a credit card: it’s a lot of fun until you get the bill.” And that bill is one no one will want to receive. It makes easy things hard and hard things harder. The key to avoiding the anxieties produced by deadline is setting realistic time schedules, enlisting help needed when deadlines go awry, and negotiating new deadlines when it becomes quite clear that, for one reason or the other, deadlines are going to be missed.

Another key factor is keeping calm. DON’T PANIC. I know it’s really tough to keep calm when your marks, job, or maybe even your life, depends on it. Breaking down of deadlines into a series of smaller deadlines will certainly help. I know it sounds weird, but each small deadline you meet gives you confidence and keeps you motivated for the big one. Before I end, I’ll leave you with some quotes about deadlines that will transform the way you look at them.

“Deadlines refine the mind. They remove variables like exotic materials and processes that take too long. The closer the deadline, the more likely you’ll start thinking way outside the box”

“The thing that would most improve my life is 27 hours in a day. I could meet all my deadlines.”

I’m sure you’d all agree with that last one.


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