May 22, 2014

Deadline vs Timeline

By Doyne Phillips, Managing Editor for Southern Writers Magazine

Deadline vs Timeline, what is the difference? No one knows deadlines better than the staff at Southern Writers Magazine. We have deadlines for the articles in the issue, the blog we post, advertising and many other things. 
Deadlines are not new to us. We all learned about deadlines at an early age. We had a book report or homework due on Tuesday and Monday night we begin reading the assigned book or delving into the textbook to deal with the homework. We were under the gun, the pressure was on and we were ill prepared to meet our deadline. Why do we do that to ourselves, and how do we fix this?

The reason we do this to ourselves is simple. Many times the task at hand is a commitment on our part but even though we did commit to it, a priority it isn’t. It may be important but not as important as something else. If you want to see what is important to yourself or others note what it is you choose to do or spend time doing. It is a dead giveaway. Doing what is important to us will occasionally lead to a missed deadline which we explain away with, “I didn’t have the time.”

Is the excuse of not having the time true? We all have 24/7/365 which is all the time in the world. But why are some of us getting more done with our time while others can’t seem to get anything done. Again it is a matter of what is important and what isn’t. But there is also another factor involved and that is urgency versus what is important.

Many of us react to what is urgent. If we are convinced that a matter at hand needs immediate attention it suddenly becomes a priority. There again a priority is not necessarily important but can be urgent. And once urgent, it is an immediate deadline. Once we find ourselves working under a deadline we may feel pressured and may not produce the quality of work we are capable of. We can do better avoiding deadlines by using timelines and here is how.

Let’s say you know you need to finish writing 10 chapters this month. If you like you can set the last day of the month as a deadline but let’s look at it as the end of a timeline. The last day of the month will be the end of the timeline that you set to successfully complete your 10 chapters. Think of it as the day your goal is completed and vision it as such.

The next step is to be honest with you about your work habits. I know I work best in 2 hour burst of energy and concentration. Much longer and I tire of computer screens and need a break. I know I do my best work in the morning and in two hour increments. I also know I will need about 3 to 4 hours to write a chapter. So I will need about 40 hours this month to complete the 10 chapters. I will also need those 40 hours in the morning when I am fresh and do my best work.

What is the next step?

Make appointments with yourself for 20 morning appointments for 2 hours each. With 30 or 31 days in the month you have an additional 10 days to adjust your timeline should you need to do so. Set your calendar dates for these appointments, set the alerts as reminders. The important thing is to keep your appointments with yourself just as you would with an associate, your doctor, or your family member. Make these appointments a commitment Make them important. Most importantly, make them.

You have now turned your deadline into a timeline. A timeline is actually when you do your work. A timeline takes away the stress of the deadline. A deadline is something self-imposed. A timeline can be your answer to a more productive result with the best you have to offer.

Share with us how you may have overcome the stress of deadlines and work schedules.   


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