So it’s getting towards the end of the semester again. Workshop is a battleground, laser cutters are so busy you have to book for next semesters deadline. Everything is a mess and no one has time for anyone. Your laptop is full of a few thousand files helpfully named “finalsubmission2.pdf” “finalsubmissionfinalfinal.pdf” and “aaaaaasubmissionhelpme.pdf” This kind of situation affects everyone but how come some people seem to take it in the stride and others become wide eyed coffee fueled nightmares?
I can’t speak for anyone else but the way that I approach deadlines has changed wildly throughout my life. I like to think of it as getting ‘better’ at working but in reality I think it’s because I know my weaknesses. I know I’m lazy, I know my lifes main drivers are fear and embarrassment. I know that I can’t bring myself to press the submit button until three minutes before the deadline after starting the submission 23 straight hours ago. I know what I’m like and I have to be my own Mother and get myself to get it all together.
I used to be scared that I wouldn’t be able to get my work completed in time but unfortunately many sleepless nights didn’t serve to teach me valuable lessons about time management. It only convinced me that I could achieve more than I ever thought possible in 18 hours. This has served me relatively well so far but there’s always that lingering feeling of “What if I have a submission that a human can’t do in a day?” do I just fail? So being the smart forward thinking designer I (totally) am I decided to start fixing the problem before my procrastination permanently catches up with me.
Panic and crying. No, seriously. Deadlines looming? Panic and then cry. Sounds like something people do anyway, and that’s why it works for me. I know I’m capable of doing crazy amounts of work in a short space of time. However I often regret the inevitable drop in overall quality of life that comes with doing six weeks work in twenty four hours. So now I plan in panic time. If I have a Monday deadline and it’s Friday night I plan in panic time and crying time. Usually panic time is one day long and is my prescribed “work until its done” day. Crying time is usually 3-4 hours that is designed to be relaxing time to prepare for my presentation, but is often used for last minute polishing. This hasn’t fixed my problem with deadlines, but it has allowed me to significantly increase the quality of my submissions without my brain noticing. Most people I’m sure would call this method ‘good time management’ and ‘planning ahead’ but I prefer to panic and cry about it.