The Trouble With Deadlines (Hard and Soft)

I am sitting here in my office at work, just a few minutes before 8:00 p.m., as I usually am on Friday nights, because this is when my weekly CTWM blog post is due.  Every week, I tell myself I am going to draft my post ahead of time so it’s ready to go by Friday night.  (Shameless Plug: Catch me every Friday night from 5-8 here at CTWM!  Because clearly this is the most exciting way to kick off your weekend!)

And every Friday, 5:00 rolls around and I don’t have my post done.  Most weeks, I have been kicking a topic around in my head and I get spit it out just in time.*  But this week, all of the topic ideas I had just seem like they’re falling flat on their face, like this fascinating gem from about a month ago, or are too long and would involve too much research to post at a reasonable hour tonight.  That’s right, I do research for a lot of my posts.  Only the best for my loyal readers.

 <cue crickets and tumbleweed>

Haha, just kidding.  I know someone out there is reading this.

"I am!  And you're fired."
“I am! And you’re fired.”

But, more to the point of the title above, this post is about the dreaded deadline.  It’s a constant struggle for me to meet all of the deadlines in my life while actually, um, living my life.  You know, doing things like sleeping and eating in between working in the office and working from home.  And work is only the start of it.  With projects from the office, whether actually done in the office or taken home for the weekend (like I’m about to do), we’re talking about “hard” deadlines:  projects with a date certain upon which you better hand that stuff in or there will be consequences.  Consequences involving angry clients and managers, and have implications for your job.

But what about the “soft”deadlines?  Food shopping is a task with a soft deadline.  There may be no due date for the grocery trip, but if you don’t make it pretty soon, you will have one cranky family.  In our house, we are working on a deadline when we get the kids and ourselves fed, give baths, get the kids to bed, clean up the kitchen, and prepare the bottles and other stuff for daycare.  The deadline is somewhere in between 8:00 p.m. (speaking of, look at the time …) and, oh, midnight?  Whatever, but that stuff needs to get DONE before the new day happens.  I can get up at 5:00 a.m. instead and do some of that stuff, but HA HA HA so no, it will probably happen instead before my head hits the pillow at 12:00 or 12:30.  That’s a soft deadline.

Now, because my employer will surely end up finding this (see above), let me just state here that I never fail to meet those hard deadlines at work.  I mean, extensions of time put aside, I always produce work when it’s needed.  Notice I said “needed,” not “desired.”  Hopefully those two concepts usually combine, but sometimes I need the latest possible deadline (hard) and not the earlier, “I would really love it if you could have it done today instead of tomorrow” (soft) deadline.

But that’s just it.  I spend all my time trying to meet those hard, immovable deadlines, that the soft stuff, like groceries, gets pushed off to its softest, squishiest outer limits (iceberg lettuce and chicken nuggets can be a meal, says I).  And, well, when it comes to the deadline-free stuff … snuggling extra long with my two-year-old before bed, or playing peek-a-boo with the baby, or getting mad at the vacation home shoppers on those real estate reality shows with my husband like we used to back in the day …

"We need to stay within our budget of $5 million."  Jerks.
“We need to stay within our budget of $5 million.” Jerks.

… that stuff ends up playing third fiddle, even though the things without the deadlines are some of the most important.

And when you think about it, there IS a deadline to that stuff.  Because someday, my two-year-old will be a sixteen-year-old who won’t want me anywhere near her while she’s hanging out in her room before bed.  And you can’t play peek-a-boo with an older kid who is more interested in playing with her friends.  And my husband and I will be even busier with our jobs and whatever else, and will have long forgotten about the days when we could just eat dinner and then plop down afterward to yell at the TV together.  Well, at least until we’re too old to enjoy doing it.

I don’t have an answer to this problem, other than to throw out the pithy and oft-quoted saying that life is a marathon, not a sprint.  So, it’s one day at a time for now, even though I feel like all I do is sprint around all day, every day.

While I would love to sit here and think up a witty conclusion to this piece, I have another deadline to meet tonight that I’m already behind on:  getting home to eat dinner.

It’s iceberg lettuce and chicken nuggets.  Again.


* loosely defined

[Image Credits: &]




6 thoughts on “The Trouble With Deadlines (Hard and Soft)

  1. I can totally relate to this post-as I just made my post deadline by a the skin of my teeth! Thanks for putting it in writing!

  2. (lol, Randi!) Melanie, I thought that WAS a clever conclusion to your post! We love the chicken tenders in this household too. ♡

  3. Not sure why I suddenly turned into “RFM”! It’s good to use as a secret identity, to camouflage my bad nutritional habits.

  4. My children & nephews were RAISED on Weaver Chicken Nuggets — so much so that we all referred to it as “Boy Chicken.” They loved it and they ate it and it wasn’t sugar-laden, so what’s the down side?

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