In my school days, deadlines were usually set by the people who exerted power over me: my parents and teachers. They used deadlines as a measurement to see results from me. If I failed to meet it, they wouldn’t budge. They’d just provide stricter deadlines.
“Why this deadline?” I asked.
But I’d never gotten an answer. It was always, “Just do it”.
It was not until after graduating from college, let loose into the real world and working as a professional that I finally understood the importance of deadlines and how to embrace its evilness.
Deadlines became non-terrifying because I found the reason for its existence. Like any problem in life, it becomes easier to grasp and comprehend when you understand the main cause and how it benefits your future actions.
What was more interesting was that I began to set my own deadlines.
Without deadlines, I’d never completed projects. I’d start it but eventually losing interest midway.
With deadlines, however, I’d use it as a reason to force myself to push through. No matter the results, the sense of accomplishment was what I tried to achieve.
Deadlines also helped me to improve my techniques. As a designer, I’d practice sketching and designing within a set amount of time, say 30 minutes. Then after 30 minutes, I’d stop and whatever results I produced would be the metric I use to measure my improvements.
I’d repeat the process until I’m satisfied with the sketch in 30 minutes. It was frustrating at first, but became enjoyable when I made it into a game and tried to beat the time.
Without deadlines, I’d never be able to manage my time properly. Deadlines helped me to set my priorities and take shortcuts whenever necessary. I used to do things the correct way, which usually meant always following the steps in an orderly fashion. It was great when I was just learning how to do things, but eventually it became cumbersome and it always took the longest time to complete.
There were times when I failed to meet the deadline because I sticked to the correct way. Frustrated, I began trying out different shortcuts and eventually found something that worked and produced the exact same result.
It was through battling with deadlines that I came to realize there would always be a more efficient way of doing things than what I already knew.
Deadlines also forced me to learn to delegate work. When working in a team, no matter how good I was, delegation was the key to getting stuff done. I have a high standard for quality of work, but when I’m in a team, I have to balance quality with delivery promise.
Sometimes, perfection is only in the eyes of the creator. There were moments when I thought what I produced was moderate quality. To others, on the other hand, it actually appeared as great work. But I wouldn’t have known this without completing the work and meeting the deadline.
I finally got it.
I fully understood the beauty of deadlines. It’s in nowhere near as ugly as it sounds, because if you dared to dig its grave, you would realize that it:
- Improves your time management and priorities
- Enhances your skills and techniques
- Boosts your efficiency and productivity
Do you feel the same about deadlines?