Deadlines you can beat


A few years ago I found myself standing in front of a looming deadline. I had about four hours to complete a 10 page paper that I hadn't yet started. (If it had been for my Procrastination 101 class, that would have been perfect.) As luck would have it, I also had an evening shift at work. End of shift at eleven, deadline at midnight... No problem, I had a computer at work.

I wasn't worried. That might make more sense if I mention that, after 2 years, I could do my job blindfolded, using my left pinky. It was the sort of job where work came in random bursts. A few hours a day you couldn't find the spare time to take a deep breath, but the rest was easy sailing.

A coworker walked by, wondering what I was doing. I explained I had a paper due at midnight. She assumed I was almost done but I explained that I haven't even done the front page yet. With a raised eyebrow, she told me I shouldn't bother in that case. That there was no way I'd get it done in time. What I was thinking wasn't really workplace appropriate, but what I said was, "Watch me."

Three hours later, my paper was done and sent to the professor, finished while making sure my my work duties didn't suffer for it. I got full marks too.

Now, if I had to write a paper about capital budgeting in corporate finance, I would have been toast. But I was writing a comparison of four software options for desktop virtualisation. Perhaps it doesn't sound any more appealing to you, but it was a topic I was very familiar with.

My point is, sometimes people project their own abilities on you. Sometimes, when they tell you that you will fail, what they actually mean is that they would. We all have different strengths and weaknesses, don't let other people tell you what you're capable of. You know yourself best.

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