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30 Apr 2008 / Julie

why last-minute is still my friend

Every Wednesday for the last 3 months I’ve been participating in an online class learning how to “develop and deliver online synchronous training.” Classes ended mid March and we all had at least a month to work on our final projects which were to be 20 minute teach-backs on a topic of our choice. We were broken into groups of 3 so that we could split up the work of facilitating and producing our teachbacks. My group was assigned to go this morning; giving us exactly 50 days to develop, design, practice, and tweak our individual presentations before we had to give them for our “grade.”

50 days. That’s 7 weeks… or 1200 hours… or 72,000 minutes… or 4,320,000 seconds.

When do you think i started THINKING about my project?

If you guessed “yesterday” you’d be right. Well, perhaps I shouldn’t say “started thinking” because i’d been trying to come up with a topic for at least a week and a half before yesterday rolled around. Given the topic of “ANYTHING” i, of course, went into Choice Apnea. (really, the word i want in place of Apnea is escaping me so that will have to do for now).

I seem to have always had this problem- when given the world, i want to choose ALL, not SOME. I blame/thank my parents for this issue but it’s been a challenge to just “pick one and run with it.” It’s very energizing to have all those choices, and to think of all the possibilities, but it can be like my feet are in concrete until i can pick one and be calm that i’m not totally “not picking” the others.

So how did I finally end up picking a topic? It went a little something like this:

Office Manager Jim to me yesterday: How are you doing on your presentation?
Me: Haven’t figured out my topic yet.
OMJ: How about you do Twitter?
Me: Okay!

And so it began early afternoon yesterday.

The finish line lived in the 2.30am space in time where all the world is quiet except for my thoughts. I finished the powerpoint, my speaking outline, the participants guide and headed to bed, only to get out of bed 3 minutes later, reboot the computer, add an exercise in the speaking outline, shutdown and fall asleep.

Choice Paralysis? yes. Procrastination? Perhaps. Apathy towards the assignment? A little.

See, i think what happened here is a classic case of Deadline Thrill. Since college- and especially those years i spent as a newspaper girl, thriving on deadlines- it was reinforced to me over and over that I got the same (if not better) results and feedback on projects I did under a time crunch than those i did with plenty of time to spare.

Even those projects I did with plenty of time to spare (the final draft of my undergrad thesis not included), the project, and how to improve it, still consumed my mind until the time it was no longer in my hands after it had been turned in and nothing more could be tweaked on it. This is one of the reasons I always hated when teachers wouldn’t let you turn your work in before the due date. Is it my fault they might lose things if given to them early? No. If i actually have the will and foresight to get something done early, i should be able to give it to the appropriate person/go forth with it early.

This particular project (which can be found on my presentations page) took just over 17 hours from idea conception to final product birth (granted, not of hard core working time) and if i do say so myself, it went really well! I got a lot of good feedback and had a lot of fun doing it! Again proving to myself that periodic lack of sleep is good for the creative soul.

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