Have you ever noticed the word deadline begins with dead?
Do you know where that word — deadline — originated?
During the Civil War, a narrow trench was dug in to the ground where prisoners were being kept. If a prisoner wandered across this line (accidentally or on purpose) he would be shot dead. This shallow furrow became known as the “deadline” and was a serious fact of life or death for those held prisoner on the living side of the deadline.
Have you ever felt imprisoned by your own deadlines? As a working, blogging, homeschooling mom, I can say very emphatically that I have. That I do. This very post I’m writing about deadlines in fact missed the deadline of being posted on Monday.
I’ve recently taken on several new projects that come with a list of deadlines. The calendar that lives inside my head is no longer capable of keeping track of them all. This has me thinking about how I can keep track of it all without losing the ability to think, breathe, and live fully. Because I’m here to tell you that if not very careful, your life can easily be consumed. And that’s just not real living.
The last thing I want is to feel smothered by all I have to do. But that is exactly how I have been feeling. So I found a solution —
Wait for it . . .
I bought a planner.
It’s actually a cute little Martha Stewart notebook with some calendar pages and project planning sheets. Inside my Tiffany blue brain assistant, I can jot down my deadlines, along with some brainstorming ideas. I suppose the jury is still out about how helpful I’ll find this, but so far, I’m feeling fairly accomplished.
Don’t go thinking I’m going to become some uber planning homeschool mom crazy woman with pens in every color and pages of sticky notes everywhere. It ain’t happening. But having a place to jot down some dates and notes is surprisingly comforting. It’s keeping me on the alive side of the self-imposed trench of over-scheduling deadlines.
The very first project planning page contains some ideas I have for how to keep alive in the process of meeting deadlines. I thought I would share a few with you, because I’ve heard that many of you are struggling to meet your deadlines as well. So here you go — my non-planner, non-scheduler attempt at telling you how to stay alive in the midst of the deadline madness.
Track your deadlines
Whether you use a cute little Martha Stewart notebook, a planning app, or a wall calendar, it doesn’t matter much. Just use something and make sure you choose a method that will work for you.
Keep people informed if you don’t think you can meet your deadline
This happened to me recently with a blog for which I write a monthly feature. Letting the blog manager know why I was running late was appreciated by her, and I was able to receive grace. It might not have gone so well had I missed the deadline and then told her why.
Let your yes be yes, and your no be no. But do say no sometimes. Look ahead to see what you have going on before committing to yet another deadline. Life really will go on if someone else gets assigned that opportunity.
Break projects down
If you have a large project, don’t procrastinate (like me) and try to do it all at once with your deadline looming. Breaking it down into smaller projects with their own mini-deadlines can help you avoid the stress and seemingly near-death experience of putting things off to the last minute.
Build in a cushion
It works for me to write projects down as due a few days before they actually are. This gives me some flexibility when things aren’t going well, or I need to take some time off.
Now, take a deep breath, friend. Inhale. Exhale. And whatever you do, don’t stumble over the trench — accidentally or on purpose.