How Missing a Deadline Improved My Performance

If you read this blog, and clearly you do, you probably noticed that I didn’t publish a blog post last week *gasp.*

“But Shir, you’re such a stickler for habits, and for following through on your commitments, blah blah yada yada.”

That all may be true.

However…

And this is a particularly large however…

It’s not worth beating myself up over.

Why? I’ll tell you why. In the only way I know how: a bulleted list!

But first, a little context…

Usually I write a first draft of a new blog post early in the week, and then spend the rest of the week revising it. That’s right kids, that means blog posts typically go through 3-5 versions before they ever see the light of day. How’s that for quality control? More on the process of how I write my blog in a future blog post. Is that meta enough for you?

So there I was last week, on Friday afternoon, with 3 first drafts for different blog posts. I didn’t plan it that way, it’s just what ended up happening when I tried writing about the topic of time tracking.

This presented a dilemma. Do I struggle to get one of these posts finished and published, or do I skip a week? Here’s a glimpse into my thought process, which ultimately led to my decision to skip a week.

Reasons to NOT beat myself up:

  • Ouch. No thanks.
  • It’s not that I haven’t been working. In fact, I spent 2 hours 22 min on my blog last week. Yeah, I track that shit. More on that in the coming weeks.
  • I don’t work for someone else, so there isn’t actually a hard deadline to meet.
  • I refuse to sacrifice quality. In order to publish one of my posts last week, I would have had to force myself to get a “fresh” perspective and edit one of them on the spot. But I wasn’t fresh at all. I was burnt out for the day. You see the problem? No? Write a blog for 6 months and then you will :).
  • I refuse to stress myself out unnecessarily. What a wonderful life decision this has been by the way. Try it.
  • One of my top priorities was not losing the habit of working on my blog. And since that’s exactly what I did this week, I was in the clear!
  • I need to reward (not punish) myself for getting inspired and deviating from the standard structure. After all, this is what leads to innovation and growth. I’m particularly proud of the concepts I’m about to discuss in these next few blog posts. This “deviation” is now directly responsible for 4 distinct (dare I say awesome?) blog posts. Take that status quo!

If all that wasn’t enough (ahem, it was), it was way more important that I prepared for my weekly meeting with Georges in just a few short hours from the time of this critical decision. I wanted to get his feedback on a new client proposal, because he’s really good at that sort of thing. More on the fruits of that particular labor in a future post.

And not that I’m looking for excuses or justifications, but I think it’s only fair to mention that I was a little sick last week too. I am happy to report that I successfully warded off whatever illness was trying to infiltrate my body, by sleeping in for a few days. There’s no doubt that doing so cut into my productive hours. The alternative however, was to be physically awake for more hours, feel like crap, not be able to focus anyway, and then feel guilty, and stay sick longer. And who does that help, huh?

Plus, let’s not forget that last week was Thanksgiving, which meant 1.5 days of food prep, and then the evening feast of Thanksgiving itself. Overall I lost at least 6 hours of work time.

Not to sound like ungrateful or anything. After all, this is the holiday of being grateful. Plus it only happens once a year, and I will look back at these so called “mundane moments” with the utmost fondness and nostalgia, especially when I’m on my death bed. I don’t mean to sound morbid either. I see these moments as blessings, which I am extraordinarily grateful for. More on gratitude in a future post :).

What about you?

Think of a time when you struggled to meet a deadline. What did you sacrifice in order to meet it?

Now let’s add another wrinkle into the fabric of that question. And answer honestly. Would you have been disciplined enough to not meet the deadline and still finish the project on your own? Would it have been better or worse as a result?

The more we know ourselves, the more we can optimize our time, energy, and contribution to the world during our limited time on this planet.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

2 comments

  1. Zuly says:

    I have this dilemma with Beyond Tells all the time. I feel guilty for missing a deadline when the task I’m doing is supposed to be “easy” but despite being simple is very time consuming. Then I consider whether working faster will actually be better or just sacrifice accuracy.

    In the end accuracy is much more important than an arbitrary deadline because a mistake could end up costing us much more time in the future, thereby negating any time “saved” by meeting the deadline. So, I decide to get rid of my anxiety about it. Finding good reasons to miss the deadline is usually much easier for me than the getting rid of the anxiety part, but you’re right about the stress. No use in clinging to it unnecessarily.

    • Shir Aviv says:

      “…a mistake could end up costing us much more time in the future, thereby negating any time ‘saved’ by meeting the deadline.” I couldn’t agree more!

      The challenge is to find a balance between the natural state of productivity and the external world of deadlines. Still haven’t cracked that nut all the way open, but in the meantime I give estimates of when I’ll have work completed that is actually twice as long as I think it will take. This builds in a nice big cushion for things like unexpected complexity, other work projects, personal life events, or anything else that life throws at me. Also alleviates most of the stress :).

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