Douglas Adams once, very famously said “I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.”
When I first heard this quote I laughed, quite literally, out loud. How brilliant, I thought, and I nodded in sage agreement, that was exactly how I felt I said. But I was wrong.
My deadlines do not make lovely whooshing sounds, in fact my deadlines don’t make any kind of sound at all until they have overtaken me. They go into stealth mode, sneaking silently behind me, ducking into doorways whenever I seek them out and hitting me with a flashy neuraliser like some wicked Man in Black every time someone or something reminds me of their existence. Finally, when I’m resting in relaxed assurance that my day’s work is complete, they pounce bringing panic, guilt, shame and sleepless nights as I frantically try to kid myself that if I just complete the work before daybreak I will have beaten the already victorious beast.
I wonder if there is such a thing as a deadline whisperer, you know like the horse and dog variety only one that will work miracles on my deadlines and make them behave. What would that look like? Well, for a start, each deadline would wait patiently on my calendar, politely reminding me each morning of their existence and, if I forget to feed them, perhaps gently nudging my hand. They would not fight or gang up on me but each one would sit quietly waiting for its turn for my attention and be completely satisfied with its allotted time.
Ah but I’m dreaming I know. I’ve been fighting with deadlines for well over twenty years now and, if anything, they’re getting smarter while I’m getting slower so perhaps the trick is to buy a better microphone and see if I can’t hear that whooshing sound after all.
Brilliant Hellen! How we can all relate to this!