(#InternTales) Deadlines: a battle with yourself

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(#InternTales) Deadlines: a battle with yourself

Ah, deadlines- one of the most feared words in the English language.

I’m going to make this quick, because this article is due in an hour. Just kidding- sort of. I may or may not have left this work to the last minute and be unnecessarily sweating, compulsively pulling my hair and on the verge of tears. And although you may think it’s quite hypocritical of me to be writing (or advising) on this specific topic, I wanted to anyway. Whether we admit it or not, we all struggle with meeting deadlines sometimes.

That’s the truth. That’s real life.

Most people would admit to having a problem with meeting deadlines, either because they are perpetually unable to meet them, or because they only just manage it each time and drive themselves crazy about how they should have started earlier (me, right now).

As an Intern, I’ve freaked out (still do) about not being able to meet deadlines. There have been many root causes to this that go beyond laziness: procrastination, a too-heavy schedule, depression, forgetfulness, and lack of focus.

Reality is: we need to be able to meet deadlines. Period. The world will not bend to our personal schedules, and we will be much better students, employees, interns, and friends if we’re capable of honoring our commitments.

Here are a few ways to do it:

 

Stop Overthinking- We can do this.

JUST START. Instead of overanalyzing our assignments, we should just start them. One way to get motivated is by keeping our goals at the forefront of our minds. It’s important to always know “why” we’re doing something.

  • Why are we going to school?
  • Why are we interning?
  • Why do we work where we work?

It’s important to answer these questions to be clear and to remind ourselves where we’re headed.

 

Prioritize Our Tasks

According to Eisenhower’s Urgent/Important Principle, tasks can be broken down in the following categories:

  • Important and Urgent
  • Important but Not Urgent
  • Not Important but Urgent
  • Not Important and Not Urgent

Making two different useful “to-do lists” can be very helpful- one that is for weekly tasks ONLY and one for “future” tasks. Sticking to category one would be ideal, but we all tend to fall into category two and allow tasks to become not-so-urgent. And as for the non-urgent stuff, we should ignore it until we have free time (I know, that last one’s hard).

 

Work Little and Often

There will be days where we cannot sit down and work for 198568726 hours, we know that. We understand that. There will be days where unexpected things will come up and people will need us to do this or do that. But the trick to staying on top of our assignments (or whatever) is to work at them little by little, even if it’s for a few minutes, so that we remain connected to the tasks.

 

Investigate Why We Procrastinate

Why do we wait so long to start a task? We find ourselves doing everything but the task. And I mean EVERYTHING. I’ve been trying to create new habits (really trying) and one of the habits I’ve been trying to implement is making a list of what my day looks like- what is my daily routine? After making this list the first time, I found that I really was doing NOTHING throughout my day (crazy, I know). And by “nothing” I really mean I was doing “small” things, non-urgent things, like cleaning my work space, doing my laundry, and “oh I have to get lunch or I’m gonna be hangry” and “I have to run to target because I’m out of nail polish remover” (yes, this is me) and “oh now I need a break- I’m gonna watch some Netflix. I deserve a break.” WHAT. I repeat, NOTHING. Sometimes we have tasks that we resent doing, so we just put it off. Maybe we pitched an article, but now we’re blocked and terrified of writing something stupid (yes, me currently). So, it’s important to catch ourselves procrastinating before it’s too late. Procrastination will only distance us from tasks we resent and fear. So let’s ask ourselves, let’s investigate: “what are we so worried about?”

 

Communicate Ahead of Time

This one is important. It’s crucial that we communicate with our bosses, up lines, friends, business partners, what-have-you, ahead of time. If we know we will need more time completing a task, we must be honest and let them know. It’s OK to be honest about how much you can handle. Repeat after me: “I am really interested in this opportunity, but I wont be able to get it done in this timeframe. Would X date be acceptable instead?” If we don’t communicate, we may find ourselves taking on too much. Don’t be so overambitious that you drive yourself nuts.

 

Have a “No Excuse” Mentality

Taking ownership of our mistakes and being self-aware is key. Having a “no excuse” mentality will transform our anxiety, guilt and stress to confidence, improvement, and increased success. We will respect ourselves more. We may find ourselves on the losing end of success at times, but when we do, let us find the closest mirror, look ourselves in the eye and say “I’m sorry. There is no excuse. I WILL get better.” Let’s say it to ourselves. Say it out loud. Say it and mean it. Let’s find ways to work harder, smarter and differently so that we can always get “it” done.

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