Trend Tuesday: Still Waiting til the Last Minute?

(I realize this was published later than normal.  It is part of the story.  Welcome again to another crazy JMO post.)

In the blogging world, many people teach that having posts on a regular schedule is the way to create a readership.  But this is only half of the message.  It leaves out the ‘quality’ part.  To have a successful blog, there should be a regular stream of quality posts to feed a readership.  Here is a quick list on how to have a great blog.

  1. Make a blog. (wordpress is good)
  2. Set a regular schedule you can maintain.
  3. Write a QUALITY Post.
  4. Click Publish.
  5. Repeat 3 and 4 based on 2.

Ok, so that probably isn’t the Top 5 list you were hoping to see.  Too bad, because that’s really all there is to it.

In writing this post I was almost guilty of overlooking Step 3.  When you title your blog post Trend Tuesday, you are setting yourself up for a pretty hard deadline.  And Tuesday is almost gone.  Should I just hit Publish now?  Probably not, as I haven’t finished my story yet.  So, why am I not done yet?  I’ve got some great excuses.

  1. I haven’t reached the deadline yet
  2. I work better at the last minute
  3. It wasn’t a high priority

I haven’t hit the deadline.  For this excuse, I am really blaming the deadline.  Unfortunately, deadlines have a tendency to backfire.  A week ago we set a deadline to have a new Trend Tuesday blog post done by Tuesday.  I had a whole week to get it done.  But really, by giving myself a deadline of Tuesday, I committed to doing it on Tuesday.  Because this is due in a week, it ranks behind other tasks, until Tuesday that is.  Now it is on top of the heap, but it is almost too late.  Way to avoid this: set earlier deadlines, or, if you can, do things immediately. Think of the deadline as less of a due date and more of a time to actually do it.

And anyways, I work better at the last minute.  Because at the last minute, there is added stress and pressure.  And I work great under pressure.  NOT.  At the last minute, I am forced to get things done.  Not to make them right, or even above average. And certainly not to make them spectacular.  But they do get done.  Had I made my deadline, you would have stopped reading after the Top 4 list.  That is what is produced by someone who works better at the last minute.  Way to avoid this: set standards for quality. For this post, it could be the words, time spent on it, or links.  Or it could be that I got 5 other people excited after they read it.

But the real reason I didn’t finish on time is that this wasn’t a high priority.  Unfortunately, task managers and to-do lists have this annoying priority system built in with 1-5’s and stars and red flags, etc.  I think priority is really a boolean, or an on/off switch.  Something is a priority, or it isn’t. Merlin Mann agrees, or really, I agree with him.  But when I first learned of this task, I said this wasn’t a high priority. But if this isn’t a high priority, then why am I not done yet?  It is superseded by a real priority.

The real priority is that when I publish something with my name on it, it has to be my best effort. This is the priority.  This is Step 3 above.  And this is what makes great bloggers, writers, designers, and all creators.  When I first started this, under the deadline, rushing it out, it was about 200 words of garbage.  I’ve since deleted all of that, and written all of this.  While some may argue that I was just lazy and procrastinated and that’s why this wasn’t finished, I’d have to disagree.  I set myself up for failure when I did the following:

  1. I  made a deadline that was the absolute last minute I needed to finish.
  2. I did not make this a priority.
  3. I did not start until close the deadline because this wasn’t a priority.
  4. I lied to myself about my abilities to do quality work quickly.

All of these things caused me to miss the all important Step 3.  Fortunately, the place I work is smart enough to recognize that a quality post that is late is much better than a weak post on time.  Hopefully the readers if this blog and yours are also flexible.

Recap:

  1. Set deadlines before things are really due, or just do them immediately.
  2. Don’t wait til the last minute.  Your work is not better when you do.
  3. Make quality stuff (which should be on time if you follow the first two).

Hopefully the trend of waiting til the last minute will fade like Will Smith’s hair on Fresh Prince.

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