I’ve been thinking about deadlines.

Deadlines are helpful. They can define expectations and provide a framework for action. They give us a way to describe success. Even if we struggle to achieve the goal, who doesn’t love the feeling of completion?

Deadlines can also be misleading. They can provide a false sense of achievement, rewarding the end rather than the experience. Ask any student who’s pulled an all-nighter to finish a project. It might’ve been turned in on time, but it probably wasn’t their best work.

At their core, deadlines represent our drive to control time. But controlling time isn’t something we can actually do. What we can do is convince ourselves that elements contained within a period of time are the same thing as the time itself.

In the past few months, many of us have personally experienced new ways of working, communicating, organizing, connecting, and delivering. I suspect that these experiences will influence our perspectives about deadlines. We’ll still need them, but we may be less likely to accept them without an explanation of their value, their purpose. And, we may be more likely to propose alternatives or look for new options to measure success.

In the meantime, this cuppa reminds me that I have stuff I need to do today, and I’d better get started.

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