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Are you coasting or driving (to the finish line)?

Man driving car with focus on steering wheel

This week my husband and I are taking a few (I think well earned) days off. It’s the first time since Christmas. (Then we had to isolate because of covid, so we couldn’t even go for a walk.) Apart from that short time, we’ve both worked 7days a week for nearly a year now, believing we should work whilst we can as others aren’t so lucky.

You know me, I’m good at keep my #NRG topped up but even I feel a little tired now. If I’m honest we are both noticing, we are little worn out.

Anyway, now we can, we’ve decided to go away and have a proper break. As you can imagine I’m excitedly counting down the days, but I am also a bit manic, and nervous about work. The week before any holidays always seem to be the busiest; the holiday approaching seems to create a sense of urgency to complete, achieve, and succeed.

I don’t like to let anyone down or leave projects half-finished (I’m sure you are the same) so I really focus on what needs to be done by whom and when. I step up the pace and complete more work than normal. When I worked in a larger office, we used to joke that holidays weren’t really holidays - you just moved the time into the week before, doing twice as much in that week to free yourself from worry whilst away the week after.

It seems that immovable deadlines help us complete stuff. This got me thinking, how can we use a little bit of self-imposed pressure each week to finish more, to achieve more, to implement today rather than waiting for tomorrow. Why are we more productive when immovable things like holidays or picking the kids up from school are booked in the dairy?

Is it the preparation?

Is it the focus?

Is it the drive to the finish?

Or is it we can’t use the excuse I’ll do it tomorrow?

Reflecting over the last few days, for me I think it’s

(1) my commitment to others and

(2) I don’t want anyone to think badly of me, catch me out for being lazy, behind with my work or being rubbish at something.

Business must carry on, so others need to pick up the projects I’ve been working on. The work needs to be up to date and as profession as you would want it to be. My reputation demands it.

As I’ve already said I don’t want to let anyone down, so I over prepare for my time away. I make sure every ‘i is dotted, and every t is crossed’ that way all clients and projects can move forward. People who look will see the quality of my work without me explaining etc.

Question. Why shouldn’t my work always be like that, every day – short answer it should!

Due date on calendar

In this HBR article, The Art of the Self-Imposed Deadline, Steven DeMaio talks about self-scheduling techniques to getting more done and being more productive.

This Fast Company article gives a different view saying “When the deadline is self-imposed, its authority is corrupted and the motivation never materializes.”

Let me know if you think self-imposed deadlines work for you.

Here are some top tips which others have tried. I’m going to give them a go.

· Have a plan, chunk it up into smaller parts and block out time to complete a task each week.

· Use your team/supporters – by keeping them up to date on daily basis you are keeping yourself accountable. (Side note – it means the pressure doesn’t build up for holiday times.)

· Make a commitment externally not just with yourself, but with others, so you have to go do something else.

· Pretend to be the boss. A deadline from a boss has more weight, so pretend.

· Remind yourself of who would be letting down if you don’t finish the work today rather than tomorrow.

· Put yourself first. Take your own deadlines more seriously.

· Present your work to others more (added benefit – constructive feedback)

Have a great week, catch up with you all early June. Next week’s weekly digest will be from a special guest.



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