Love ’em or hate ’em, deadlines play an important role in academia. As much as they sometimes scare me, I personally enjoy working to deadlines, particularly if they’re set by something or someone else (i.e. not self-imposed – I’m not strict enough on myself to work well to those!).
Without deadlines, my mind and work seems to meander, delving into something interesting here and there seemingly without making any real progress on anything. That’s not so bad at the start of your PhD, but with only 18 months remaining of mine, I should be cracking on and getting things done!
A deadline focuses my mind and makes me achieve more than I thought possible in the time given. I learn a lot. I’m currently preparing some data for a conference abstract submission at the end of the week, and I’m learning how to do a lot of new coding in Matlab in the process. When I mentioned this to my supervisor, she said “nothing like a deadline to accelerate learning” and she’s totally right!
It’s a good (albeit increasingly exhausting) feeling as the deadline draws closer, that I’m learning and producing lots of valuable stuff for my thesis. It keeps me focused on one task, which is great for me as I’m pretty bad at multitasking. I like having one job to do, writing a list of tasks that’ll get it done, then completing it and moving onto the next thing. Unfortunately PhDs aren’t like that, and nor are most jobs, so this PhD has definitely taught me a lot about juggling lots of things at once!
So for the remainder of the week, I’ll be in an increasing state of happiness (at getting things done), stress (at when things inevitably go wrong) and tiredness… And then this deadline will have passed and I’ll be looking eagerly for the next one!
Do deadlines bring out the best in you, or do they make you panic like crazy? Do you have any tips on how enforce working to self-imposed deadlines? Share your thoughts below!
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