A Lesson in Mindfulness: Do Deadlines Matter?

But the truth is, when you are the “boss” of your creative projects (or creative business), you are the one who manages that project calendar. You decide what is going to get done and when it’s going to get done. And because you’re most likely a one-woman-show, when real life happens, you’ve got to be the boss that says, “That’s okay. I’ll extend the project for the sake of (your choice of words here).”
 

The short answer? Yes. They do. But when I made the choice to drive to Denver this summer, I had to learn the role deadlines played in my creative business.

 

Quick backstory: In May, my mom and I decided to drive to Denver in June to visit my grandparents. I was in the middle of creating a new eCourse, Operation: Procrastination Shutdown, and preparing to have a fantasy novel published. But looking at my editorial calendar and my personal calendar, I realized something: there was no way I was going to get the work done and spend time with my family.

Right in the middle of our planned vacation, I had the launch for OPS and the launch of the novel scheduled.

No good.

It would have been easy to say I didn’t have a choice: I was going to have to hustle and work harder to make this happen (I mean, come on, those deadlines were staring at me, demanding I meet them). Luckily, mindfulness has taught me a lot this year: It matters less what I do and more WHY I do it.

I DID have a choice (and it was MY choice): Meet the deadlines or spend my vacation with my grandparents. I chose my grandparents. And I knew exactly why I was choosing my grandparents: I live in Palm Springs, CA and they live in Denver, CO, and due to my financial situation (and to my grandpa’s inability to travel these days), I only get to see him once a year. So you can bet I decided time with my grandparents was more important that reaching my initial deadlines.

 

Yeah, your deadlines matter, but are they the RIGHT deadlines? Find out in this post! (<<< click to tweet and share this post!)

 

PROCRASTINATION VERSUS VACATIONS

It’s easy to confuse procrastination with breaks: “I decided not to blog today. Am I procrastinating? Am I just taking a break? Wait, is it okay to take breaks?”

Have you ever found yourself in a tug of war game with procrastination?

Because that was my first instinct: Put myself down for procrastinating. Here I was going on a vacation when all this work needed to be done. (Feel free to roll your eyes here; I am.)

But the truth is, when you are the “boss” of your creative projects (or creative business), you are the one who manages that project calendar. You decide what is going to get done and when it’s going to get done. And because you’re most likely a one-woman-show, when real life happens, you’ve got to be the boss that says, “That’s okay. I’ll extend the project for the sake of (your choice of words here).”

 

Why is this NOT procrastination?

1. Procrastination is avoiding something. It often an avoidance out of fear. (You can learn all about procrastination’s relationship with fear here.)  When you make a decision to push back a deadline in order to take a break or to go on vacation, you’re not giving up on or avoiding your project. This goal is still alive. It just now has a new deadline.

2. Let’s talk about that decision—that choice—to push back deadlines. Procrastination takes choices from you. It makes you feel helpless. You feel guilty. You might even feel like you’re not good enough because you *can’t* fight procrastination. And that isn’t true at all. This is YOUR project. This is your: blog, website, novel, art show, etc. You are in charge, and you decide when things are going to happen. If you make a choice to change the timetable of your project, own that choice.

 

Procrastination takes choices from you. It’s time you give control of those choices to the one who matters: YOU (<<< tweet this!)

 

3. You have a clear purpose for pushing back this deadline. As long as you know WHY you are pushing back your deadlines, push them back all you want.

  • Sometimes, you’re really not ready.
  • Or maybe your audience isn’t ready.
  • If you are working on a collaboration, you might have to push a deadline back because you are waiting for your partner to finish her work.
  • Perhaps you end up with vacation plans at the last minute, and it’s more important to you that you take time for yourself or for your family then meet those initial deadlines.

Don’t push back a deadline because you think you have to or because you’re afraid of finishing and publishing your work. But DO have a sound reason why you are moving your deadline.

 

Still not sure if you are just letting procrastination take control without your notice? This is what procrastination looks like:

1. No deadline.

2. Or deadline comes and goes without you reaching your goal OR without purposefully changing the deadline.

3. You don’t know what to work on today (or this week).

4. Distractions: you spend all day putting out fires instead of getting your priority tasks accomplished.

5. When someone asks you about your project, you draw a blank or avoid the question.

 

HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOU’RE PROCRASTINATING?

Journal it, lady! Break out that journal and start answering these questions at the end of each workday:

1. What tasks did you accomplish today?

2. Did the accomplishment of those tasks move you towards the completion of your creative project?

3. How do you feel about the progress of your creative project?

4. Are you still on track to meet your deadline?

5. If not, why? AND should you move your deadline or move aside something else so you can meet your deadline?

The better you know yourself and your creative projects, the easier it will be to recognize the difference between procrastination and purposely taking a break/vacation from your work. And the best time to get to know yourself and your work/creative habits is right now. Start using that journal today!

 

PSST…YOUR DEADLINES STILL MATTER

Think your deadlines no longer matter—they still do! Just because you’ve decided to not hit that initial deadline doesn’t mean you can leave your project without direction. It needs a new deadline—and it needs it right away.

Instead of saying, “I’m not going to launch on October 1st,” say, “I’m not going to launch on October 1st. Instead, I’m going to launch on October 15th.

And Write. That. Date. Down. If the launch of a new project can happen just any old time, why would you be motivated to work on it right now? Odds are, you wouldn’t. Deadlines keep you on track. When you know the end date, you can work backward to figure out what tasks you need to be working on right now to make that deadline happen.

Example time! On August 1st, I created my content calendar for the entire month. I knew on that day this post would be published on August 24th. Because I knew when this post needed to be 100% done and ready for publication, I was able to look at my blog checklist and determine which days I would accomplish which tasks so come publication day, this post was ready.

 

 

So, do you really need deadlines? Do they matter? Yes! But because they are your deadlines, you decide when they happen.

 

Did my projects still get completed? Yup. Operation: Procrastination Shutdown launched a month later than my original plan and my novel was published six weeks later than originally planned. And the world didn’t end. My business didn’t end. I am not a failure for needing more time to complete my projects. Rather, both the course and novel were better because I gave myself extra time to work on them. The deadlines that matter are the ones that have a purpose. Do your deadlines have a purpose?

 

The deadlines that matter are the ones that have a purpose. Do your deadlines have a purpose? (<<< click to tweet!)

 

How do you feel about having to change your deadlines to make time for the other things in your life that matter?