Monday, February 20, 2017

Deadlines, Tweedle Dum, and Tweedle Dee

Deadlines. Depending on our perspective we either love them or hate them. They keep us on track and on our toes, or they plague us unmercifully until they've either been met or passed by in a blur of disappointment and failure. "I'm on a deadline" is a great way to deflect unwanted attention, put off other chores, or strike fear into our own hearts. But it's also a test of our organizational and time-allocation skills, and far too often we fail.

You might be thinking I'm on a deadline. If so, you're right. I've worked hard toward reaching that deadline, and I'm now in the homestretch. Unfortunately, the next few days will find me working at fever pitch to meet it even though I've done my duty by systematically working on my manuscript during the last few months. But, as usual, I'll be working overtime to slide into home because I failed to take into consideration (at least, partially) what could keep me from meeting it.

I did everything correctly. I divided up my available time, taking care to be realistic, into the number of pages I needed to edit (a whopping 450) and figured out how many pages I would need to edit per day if I wanted to reach my goal. I even padded my schedule a bit to allow some laziness on my part to throw me off schedule.

Here they are--Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum--the twin repercussions
of deadlines. Tweedle Dee (no relation to Deborah Dee by the way)
glares at me with a "I dare you to ignore me" glassy-eyed glare, and
Tweedle Dum (that would be me, I suppose) stares at me as if to say,
 "How many times do you have to endure this, you nincompoop,
before you finally learn you can never, ever correctly calculate how
much time it will take to make your deadline?" Nasty little slimy things.
(Please don't tell them I said that.)
So why am I sprinting to the finish line rather than leisurely strolling? Because I forgot--as I nearly always do--to account for things other than my own laziness (which I can always count on, thank you very much) that might waylay me on my merry way to the finish line. I forgot about life. I neglected to account for my father moving out of our house and into another and all the changes in caregiver appointments that move would entail, not to mention packing, movers, address changes, and the like. I didn't add in the time it would take for my daughter to travel out-of-state to scope out a job possibility during which I would take on the sole care of my granddaughter. I didn't make time for a visit from my sister and her husband to assist in my dad's move or the precious time I'd want to spend with her while she's here in Tennessee from Michigan.

And why didn't I? Because I had no idea any of that would be happening, that's why. Life interrupted my plans, as it has a way of doing, and stuck things into my schedule for which I had no foreknowledge. Not very polite, I know, but life is like that. Selfish, unexpected, gleeful at surprising/shocking/
impolitely sticking its nose into things it has no business sticking it into. Or does it? Isn't that what life is all about? Surprises around every turn, unexpected jigs and jogs, upheavals when we least expect it?

Yep, that's life. And it's my fault, as it usually is, for not taking those unexpected events into consideration when I scheduled just how much time it would take to make the edits on my manuscript before they were due. And why is that my fault when I did all I could to allocate my time perfectly? Because life always interrupts. It's what life does. Life's interruptions are never unexpected. The only thing unexpected would be if life didn't interfere with the way we spend our time.

If I were smart (and there's a lot of debate about that), I'd double my allocated time for editing to account for those unexpected twists and turns that life always tosses into the journey. But then I'd simply stroll along knowing I'd padded my schedule, never thinking anything will really happen, and then WHAM!--there's life, sitting right in front of me, smugly taunting me with its interruptions and nasty little blots on my perfectly-created calendar.

You'd think I'd learn.

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