Sunday, February 10, 2013

Personal Deadlines

I’m one of those people who creates personal deadlines in order to get my aft into gear. Without them, I find myself floundering about aimlessly in the doldrums.

Even in the days when I worked for a company, my daily goal was to complete everything I had to do that day at least an hour before I clocked out. Who doesn’t like a little goof-off time, right? Since then, working for myself, the regimen to stay on track and complete projects has been a challenge. And by working for myself, it means working from home. Oh, my! Talk about endless distractions that prevent you from sitting down and ‘clocking in.’ Forget those really good motivating incentives like making money to pay bills, doing an amazing job so your clients look good, and keeping an immaculate work ethic and all that stuff. Working from home means creating personal deadlines, which is imperative and without them, nothing will get done. At least, in my case, that’s the scenario. I’m also a pro-level procrastinator. I’m very very good at it.

Writing is another ‘job’ that needs personal deadlines, even those I consider it more as something entertaining to do. If I don’t tell myself that I have to finish this book, this short story, this blog post, this, that, or the other by a certain date or time, I know it will never get done. It would constantly sit and stew in my head, twisting and turning with more plots and ideas and it won’t see the light of day. Before you know it, the time to submit draws near and panic sets in. Or six months later, you realize it still hasn’t been completed.

For example, when I first started writing, my goal (deadline) was that I needed to finish the story before the next year rolled by or call it quits. When I started submitting to agents and publishers, my deadline was before I turned the big 4-0 or call it quits. Thankfully, I didn’t have to call it quits.

Of course, the most difficult task is to keep those deadlines. After all, they are your own personal ones, which no one else knows about. With me, I try to throw in a little bit of shame, just to keep things high-octane and exciting. I’ll tell someone who’s opinion I think a lot of, or make it known that I’ll do it by a certain date or time. There’s nothing like being late (which I loath doing) or failing to make your face burn with embarrassment and motivate you to move your backside. Annoying, everyday factors aside, so far it’s a working formula. This of course does not mean that I don’t want to do the job at hand—on the contrary, I love writing (not the day job, come on, let’s be serious). But like any task, even doing the things you love to do, needs a taskmaster to give it a little prod.

So, out of curiosity, what do you do to get into gear? To complete a project? To keep yourself motivated? Is it by creating personal deadlines as well or are you just dedicated and simply want the job done? I’d love to know.



Rita Bay said...

Valuable post. Because I retired early (thank God and the State of AL for early retirement), I have time to write. It's difficult to get everything done, but I find that a calendar with written goals is a help. Still, life does get in the way. Rita

linda_rettstatt said...

I juggle a day job and writing but, fortunately work a four day week. I'm finding if I don't set goals, deadlines and a schedule for myself lately, I don't get much of anything done. Thanks for a great post.

TKToppin said...

Thanks Rita, Linda for commenting. Yep, it's a daily challenge isn't it!

Julie Eberhart Painter said...

I stack my writing obligations in the order of their importance, imperitives on the top, but under a large personal calendar marked with dates due and dates of release. I just go from the top and it all gets done.