Have you ever noticed how having a deadline focuses your thinking. We are an organization that lives and dies by deadlines, and I find that my best work is done right before the deadline.

There is a craftsman who will push a button on a certain day at a certain time in a printing plant in southern Wisconsin. The printing plant produces hundreds of magazines like PT each month, and we are scheduled weeks ahead of time to fit into the production calendar. We start with the moment that button is pushed, and the paper starts to roll through the press, and count backwards to know when we must have the PDFs of the magazine sent to the wizards who turn them into printing plates and allow the process to proceed.

Normally our copy deadline is about three weeks before the PDFs of the magazine must arrive in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. During that three weeks the copy is edited, proofed, placed in the magazine format, and then the magazine itself is proof read by three different people. I am the worst proof reader on the planet and am not one of those three.

Approximately eight days after the PDFs arrive at the printing plant, it is placed in the mail stream and delivered to our readers.

Deadlines are important. Without them nothing would be accomplished. There would be a never ending series of changes, corrections, arguments over the placement of this comma or that participle. Sometimes the effort isn’t the best you have, but it gets out there.

Deadlines focus your thinking. They remove the clutter from your life and create a canvas on which greatness can be obtained. The clear away arguments and allow the writer to do what he or she is paid to do. Communicate ideas by hook or by crook.

I am amazed that some organizations can ever produce even a single article. There are many levels of approval, some of them legal, that must be overcome. Often the final result bears no relation to the original.  Weeks and sometimes months go by before the article sees the light of day.

I often set deadlines for articles in the near term rather than the long term. This forces the writer to perform. And often that performance is better than if they had weeks or months to finalize their piece.

Whoops, gotta run. The deadline is looming.


Picture of John Van Horn

John Van Horn

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