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My deadline-driven life

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During an internal conference call this week I said: “We have to set an internal deadline, or I will never start working on this.”

This is no lie. My entire life is lived by my calendar.  The only way I can prioritize is by the deadlines facing me. If there is a task without a deadline – good luck. If it is personal – better luck next week.

The flaw in this is that you have to properly anticipate the amount of time said project will take. Sometimes, I am great at this; other times, I am horrible. This week was a prime example.  I have a brief due by a set time Friday, as this post is going up. Sitting down to actually focus on one thing at a time is virtually impossible. I often find that this time comes at 9 p.m., which leads to late nights.

This week, coffee and a short nap helped me make it through until 3 a.m. Wednesday, but my body revolted the next day. My body knows that I know better than to try to pull an all-nighter. I could do that in my 20s, but it is not happening in my 30s. The next night I was working on my laptop and could barely see the screen to make edits. At this point of diminishing returns, I gave up and went to bed.

I know that my brain will appreciate the full night’s sleep and will function better the next day if I sleep, but the stress and anxiety of being on the clock pushes me to keep going.

In retrospect, I see how much time I wasted the week before not feeling the pressure of this particular deadline, until the pressure from other deadlines had passed. It is a vicious cycle.

Here is to my fellow deadline driven professionals who are trying to pull all-nighters beyond their 20s.

Angela Davis Pallozzi is counsel at Offit Kurman P.A. in Baltimore.

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