Douglas Adams famously said, “I love deadlines. I love the whooshing sounds they make as they go by.”
Well, Douglas Adams managed to get away with that. For those of us in school, there’s not quite as much leeway.
However, I have come to embrace deadlines. They are immensely useful to me. Because I’m afraid that without them, I would never actually get anything done.
Let me give you an example. I have a research paper due tomorrow. It’s on a topic that I’ve wanted to write about for awhile, so I’ve been really excited to work on it. I would have wanted to write something on the topic at some point even without the impetus of school.
But it’s a huge project, this paper. There’s just so much I wanted to discuss. And with the deadline being tomorrow, I knew a few weeks ago that I should start thinking about it. So, I started doing the research, started reading pages upon pages and paper upon paper, and everything I read just gave me more things I wanted to write about.
This past Monday, I realized just how much work I was looking at. And the deadline was looming.
Now, had I not had that deadline, I would have continued to read at a leisurely pace, collect things to write about, etc. With the deadline, I didn’t have that option. On Monday, I spent a number of hours doing research, with very little break. I then started having trouble visualizing how exactly I would put all this information together, what kind of structure the paper would take. So I spent a few more hours trying to figure that out.
On Tuesday, between work and school and a desperate need for sleep that comes from having to get up at 4am to work, I only had a few hours to spare to start actually writing the paper. Which I took.
And now today. I started at 10am. It is currently 10pm. Let me be very clear: I am not done yet. I have not done anything else today.
In three days alone, I have spent 25 hours working on this paper. It will be done for class tomorrow. On time. Complete.
But if that deadline hadn’t been there, I can only imagine that it would be years before I actually finished the project. That is, if I finished it at all.