Living from Deadline to Deadline

Salem, MA, fall 2016

Dear Reader,

Do you like deadlines? Although I always considered myself to be the sort of person to get work done early, I am relying increasingly on deadlines to motivate me to get started on anything at all. For example, I have two meetings coming up in less than 24 hours, this means that preparation for these meetings will happen first thing tomorrow morning. Then, the preparation for my meetings the following day will take place tomorrow afternoon.

My mental to-do list now only addresses the things that must be accomplished rather immediately. Although this can be stressful at times, I feel as though I am meeting all of my work commitments. However, at the same time, there are several non-work commitments that I am failing to meet because these tasks do not have firm deadlines.

For example, I need to submit paperwork to opt-in to an environmentally friendly electric plan with my energy company. I also need to cut my nails, buy toiletries, and call my mom. Deadlines for these activities are not too definite. In my experience arbitrary self-imposed deadlines are far less effective than tight work-related ones.

In a way, deadlines are what makes me a high-functioning employee, yet an average, kind-of-slow person. Seriously though! At home the laundry is piled up, the mail lies unopened, and I do not spend any significant amount of time cooking or cleaning. However, at work, I begin looking at and responding to emails early in the morning and try my best to be responsive and get work done quickly. For some reason my work approach to tasks does not translate to other parts of my life.

Making a to do list does not guarantee that tasks will be accomplished in a timely matter, if even at all. Making adjustments to one’s personal life can be hard when there isn’t a system for accountability. I think it all goes back to routine. If I slowly start routines like organizing laundry before bed or scheduling some time each week to perform basic maintenance then, hopefully, I can solidify better habits.

We are not robots, Dear Reader, we are just upright animals with deep thoughts and complex emotions. Lifestyle change can be hard, but it starts with the smallest steps.

Love,

Raven

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