The delights of the deadline

If you’re a regular reader of this blog (in which case all hail to you Sir or Madam for your uncommon good taste…) you may well be thinking, ‘hang on now – in her last post she was lauding the loucheness of lollygagging, now she’s defending the discipline of the deadline. Surely she can’t have it both ways?’ 

Ah but I can. I’m a Gemini, which means I’m not only entitled to hold two totally different opnions on one subject – I’m positively required to do so under astrological law. Says so in my contract.

Actually – the deadline and I go back a long way, and it’s fair to say we have an odd relationship. I fear it, detest it, groan under the weight of it and will do my utmost to dodge it. However the truth is – I’m no good without it.

For example – someone asks me to do a job for them – writing a magazine article perhaps, or producing a dvd. Fine, I say – when do you need it?  Everything rests on the answer. If it’s vague or non-commital – or worse still, if it’s something like ‘oh there’s no rush, just do it when you can’, frankly that’s the kiss of death on that assignment. It’ll be put off and put off till it’s so far down the To-Do list, it falls right off the bottom. Chances are high it will never get done.

If on the other hand the client says ‘well look, I’m really sorry and I know it’s terribly short notice, but I need it by thursday lunchtime…’, I’ll be delighted.  A little bit horrified if he happens to be telling me this on wednesday morning, but delighted nonetheless. Why? Because for me nothing else can concentrate the mind and focus the attention like a deadline.

Gilly Fraser as radio reporter.

Me as a baby journalist with Northsound Radio in Aberdeen!

I’ve been a journalist all my working life, with deadlines ranging from monthly for magazines, to hourly for radio news bulletins.  Give me the luxury of too much time and I’ll happily squander it. Be draconian with your deadline and I’ll be delighted. Demented – but delighted (there goes the Gemini again…!)

I do PR on a part-time basis for the Cumbrian-based Paragon Vets. I’m currently producing a dvd to be played in their waiting rooms, which includes actuality of animals being treated, plus nurse clinics, hints and tips, bullet-point lists of advice – all sorts of stuff.  It’s quite a big project, which I know will be very time-consuming. Head-nurse Karen asked me the other day when I could have it ready. I started to mutter about having this to do and that to do and having to clear the decks first – but Karen cut right through the dither. ‘I need it done by the end of April,’ she said firmly. End of April it is then.

So now I’ve got the double whammy on this particular assignment. Not just a deadline – but one which has been made public on this blog. No pressure there then! I’ll let you know if I succeed – and feel free to crack the whip if you fear I might be slacking – or, worse still – lollygagging…