Saturday, March 17, 2007

Into the Now

Ok, time to regroup - enough of the existential, the metaphysical and the unanswerable. It is time to plunge back into the moment, the now, the present. Indeed, although it’s not like I’ve been obsessed with some kind of existential quest, reading my recent posts might lead one to believe so. In point of fact, I’m once again awash in reality - swamped, actually. There is much to do and not a lot of time to do it.

These are the optimal conditions for me, a sweet spot where deadlines create just the needed pressure to motivate me but not so much pressure that I am in over my head. It’s a balancing act I have become quite adept at and recent results from mid-term exams indicate that my balance is dead-on. However, it is a tightrope that leaves little room for the unexpected. Fortunately, I have a little “surge” capacity… just enough space to squeeze just a little more time if the unexpected rears its ugly head.

How does that work? If I wait until the deadline is looming and there is just enough time to complete everything, where, pray tell, am I going to find “extra” time? I mean, they’re still only putting 24 hours in a day, right? Usually the time is borrowed from sleep time. Although I rely on sufficient sleep every night, I can get by with less when necessary. If needed, a lot less. Time can also be liberated from low priority tasks and routines. Grocery shopping, laundry and other important but not immediately pressing chores can wait when a deadline gets a turbo boost from forces beyond my control.

So why not start sooner and be done well before the deadline arrives? That’s a good question and one that has no single or simple answer. It has as much to do with how I am built as it does with the nature of the writing business. Often, it is a matter of triage. There are a number of tasks to be accomplished, each coming due at different times. It’s not just a matter of chronology, though timing does play a role, but I must also consider the time needed and the availability of sources. They have to be scheduled and coordinated when they’re ready, not when I am.

It still comes down to balance though. If there aren’t at least a couple of balls in the air, I’ll wait until there are. I never have to wait long - the pressure starts building and in no time I’m booked for several days. Such is the case this weekend. By Monday night, I have a story due, a re-write due, and a take-home midterm due. On Wednesday night there’s another paper due and Wednesday afternoon I have to have four prints mounted for my photography mid-term. I just finished two other midterms (both "A"s, thank very much) and two papers ("A" on one, still waiting for the other).

Triage. I knew this other stuff was pending, but the assignments and tests I just enumerated were pending first. And there is always something cooking on the back burner. It will be a busy weekend and as much as I am looking forward to the excitement of it all, I am also looking forward to it all being done. But I know that it’s never really over, it’s just a brief respite because that pot on the back burner will start to boil soon enough.

20 comments:

kenju said...

Life is that way, for better or for worse. If we prioritize our time and stick to doing (instead of thinking about or trying to get out of) it turns out well....LOL

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Whoa. I thought only us moms lived this way. I'm glad to hear it's not a mommy thing; it is a sort of cool way to live. There's this trust that when things get boring, they won't stay that way.

I don't do boring very well...

Here from Michele.

Karen said...

i'm the same way. I work much better under pressure. I need a reason to perform. It happens time and time again. Hang in there.

Michele sent me.

byhisgracealone said...

I consider it all a challenge

here via Michele

donna

Becky68 said...

Wow, good luck on your papers due by Monday, glad you took some time out to go to Micheles today so I could come visit you!
Congrats on your A's too!

Chelle A. said...

I work best under pressure. Whether it is cramming for a test, or term papers, or just "deadlines" in my everyday life. If I complete a task too early, I have way too much time to second guess myself, or to go back and do it "even better this time"

Great job on your A's, btw!

Here via Michele's,

Chelle

Moogie said...

Great job on the A's! Not an easy thing to accomplish. I do so much better under pressure, and the quality of my work shows. I always tell myself I'll start earlier but it never happens.

Veda said...

Working under pressure puts the pressure on to do one's greatest, at least that's my motto. :) I, too, work best under pressure, though not ten tons of it. Like you, I wait until there are a bazillion things to do then feel great tackling them all. (have ya heard the one about the laundry monster yet?)

Nice...(work on the) "A"s. See? It does pay off.

Here via Michele's tonight.
(ps, I did the VisDNA as well - check it out)

MissMeliss said...

Hello, Michele sent me.

I work best under slight pressure - I think it has to do with having my inner editor switched off because I don't have time to THINK just to DO.

PI said...

Mike I think you have the whole thing sussed. This will stand you in good stead in many, many years time when you are retired - when in theory there is no pressure. But if one is a dixciplined and thoughtful person one creates ones own dead lines and priorities. I find having a blog whilst enjoyable also creates pressures. So far it seems to work well for me. Good luck with it all dear. I'm sure you will be fine.

utenzi said...

Michele sent me over, Mike.

I understand procrastination. I'm built that way too. I just don't feel any interest or motivation to do something until the deadline is looming right over my head. Some people, and you might be one of them, do their best work under those conditions of imminent disaster. Not me--I know rushing out work makes my writing lose quality but I just can't seem to do it any other way. There's no inspiration without a deadline looming. Go figure.

I hope you're one of those that a fast paced writing situation just makes better, Mike.

Bob-kat said...

Congratulations on the A grades!

I am glad I dropped by as this is exactly the way I normally manage myself too. Years of studying have allowed me to hone this to a fine 'T'. However, I did not count on having my books notes, laptop adn work I had done to date stolen recently! It's that nasty 'in-over-my-head' feeling that you mention. Thanks for dropping by - I know this will be a speed bump soon but right now it is a very high cliff face!

I like visiting here so rather than wait for Michele to sned me I'm gonna add you to my bogroll if that is OK?

Bob-kat said...

Oops! I mean blogroll! LOL!

sage said...

I am always more productive the day (or hour) before a deadline! Good luck. Here from Michele's.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

And after that pot starts to boil you will put it on the front burner to simmer and there will be abother pot that goes on that back burner...lol...the cycle of life...!
There is something about getting down to the wire that inspires. Maybe it is knowing that it NOW all has to come together, for sure!
Congrats on that grade, Mike!

AverageMom said...

here from Michele's....the entire procrastination thing makes my head hurt.

colleen said...

Someone once said, "The best inspiration is a deadline." I personally don't like leaving them till the last and don't do well with pressure or loss of sleep! michele sent me.

Veda said...

Good luck for tomorrow. Less luck? I'm sure you're going to do fine with the story, the re-write and the mid-term all due at once. :p

Here from Michele's.

LADY LUXIE said...

I don't like deadlines...

Star said...

My children use to say "we work better under pressure" when i would nag them about pending assignments and commitments. Not me. Anything that needs doing hangs like the sword of Damoles over my head until they are accomplished.