I get stuff done on deadline.
But only when the deadline involves other people.
Deadlines work for me because I care about other people. Sometimes to the exclusion of myself, which i’m working on, but I really hate letting people down.
If I say I’ll send something Friday, it may be midnight, but I’ll get it sent. On the odd occasion I don’t, you’ll see me texting or emailing to apologise and promise a new deadline.
I’ve been like that since I was young. I remember in high school my mum saying “you know if you started it now, you wouldn’t be up til midnight the night before finishing it”. “Yea, yea, i know mum, i will next time….” I never did. The paper was due on Friday morning, so I’d be finishing it late Thursday or even really early on Friday morning before school.
I used to think that was a weakness, and I’d be more successful or less stressed or more organised or whatever if I sorted it out.
Now I know it’s my superpower.
You want something done? Give me a deadline.
But don’t just give me a random deadline. It doesn’t work to say “yea, send it to me tuesday if you can”. I can see right through your vagueness and I know you’ll let me off if I text you to say … whatever. I got busy, I didn’t do it, life happened.
I have to know that someone is waiting on me, and they’re going to be put out or their life made more difficult when I don’t hit that deadline.
A few deadlines I hit recently were:
- Content for a collaborative document between PF and Karbon and GoProposal. Heather asked us to make comments to the document by Wednesday 15th August. We are all crazy busy people, and all the cool stuff we’re looking at doing is dependent on the input from all, so I had to make my comments by the 15th. And I did.
- These Karen’s Notes. In order for them to be drafted, scheduled, and posted by Saturday morning (email, blog post, and socials), I need to have them written and sent to the PF team by Wednesday. Sometimes I stretch this a bit (I’m thinking of the time I didn’t finish it til 7.30am on Saturday! ahem!) but the fact that my delay is only adding pressure to the team does motivate me to get it done sooner rather than later.
- Building a Story Brand”: I’ve been meaning to read this book for ages. I’ve carried it round and picked it up and set it on the table whilst on a train journey…but I finally read the first three chapters last week because I’m in a book club. Everyone in it reads an agreed selection each week, and records a video to share their thoughts. I was literally the very last person on the very last day to submit my video…but I did it. Didn’t feel like it, but didn’t want to let down my team. (I even did it live on insta so I could have it for content on my IGTV channel: https://www.instagram.com/tv/B1D-FIggZQa/?igshid=6aongvkhwa4n
Finally, the person or company I’m doing it for has to matter.
There has to be purpose.
If someone randomly asked me to do something and threw out a deadline, and said everyone was waiting on me, that on its own isn’t enough because there’s no relationship. (I’m imagining those salesy self focused LinkedIn messages I get, where people want to “have a coffee” or “chat to see where we can mutually support each other”.)
I did the content for GoProposal and Karbon because I respect their companies and appreciate the good relationship we have.
I write these Notes because I appreciate every person who signs up to them (you feel very real to me because I draw a custom welcome sketchnote for each person who signs up). The replies I get are real human replies, about hard things, challenges, victories, insights. It inspires me.
I read the book because I care about the other members of the Content Marketing Academy, who are in the book club. They’re also business owners who create their own content and ask great questions and take deadlines seriously.
What I’d love to hear from you today is…
What are a few things you really want to do (literally sitting on your to-do list) but they’re just not getting done?
I’m always fascinated by what others’ undone to-do’s are!