Friday, December 01, 2006
The deadline thing
I have had deadlines before, and I will have them again. I like deadlines. They give me a clear idea of how much time I have to complete a given task, and by lining up my deadlines I am able to schedule tasks and steps clearly. Open ended projects scare me. They can go on forever and grow and grow and grow like a cartoon snowball, just waiting to roll down a stack of paperwork and flatten 'ya. Or something. One of my deadlines was not yet looming. In fact, the project would not come due until right before Christmas. I was comfortable with that, the stages were going well and I was on track. I had just looked over my schedule and was thinking that I might even have enough time to do some tweaks to make it just that much more special. It is always nice to be able to do EXTRA, and not be so busy with complicated jobs that you just barely squeak across the finish line. Sure, my work is solid and thorough. But I need every minute of that assignment to complete it that way. Any extra time is just gravy. We all know what happens when you look at something and think OUT LOUD that it is going along swimmingly. That is right. The karma gods perk right up, they do. They SCOFF at the thought you might be comfy and doing well. They are professional scoffers, those karma gods. And their work is also solid and thorough, and they are not afraid to work overtime to put you in your place when you seem happy-go-lucky about your progress. They do not enjoy happy-go-lucky at all. This time I did not escape it. My deadline MOVED. That's right. It was MOVED. What I thought I had a month to complete was now due in less than TWO DAYS. Not "try to get it done" or "do what you can" or "we will take whatever is finished". Nope, D. U. E. I am a fast typist. We are talking crazy fast. We are talking insane movements of hand over a keyboard. Spastic to be sure, and I only use like two fingers on my right hand and maybe four on my left. No home row for this chicky-poo. And my WPM measures about 145 when I get going and you factor out any errors. This is typing from my head, mind you. The information flow from mind to fingers is very quick. If I am copying something it is lower because I tend to watch the screen as I type (not my hands) and I get a little turned around if I have to look at a page. Not sure if I am a lefty or a righty, I never know where to put the paper so I can see it and the screen comfortably. And most of the stuff I had to do was brain-to-fingers type stuff plus a little cutting and pasting. Still, I was pretty much as screwed as a person could get. Typing at my top speed and sitting at the computer for 48 complete hours, taking no breaks (not even food or bathroom trips) there was still no way I could finish in time. Never mind the OTHER deadlines I was stepping on during that marathon. If I miss a deadline I don't get credit for ANY of the work done on that project. My pay and bonuses are directly related to credits from deadlines. The pay and bonuses of my department and Supervisor and Manager are also directly related to credits from deadlines of their underlings (that would be me, among others). They are not happy when deadlines are missed, never mind you rarely miss any and sometimes it cannot be helped. And this was a BIG sucker. Year long projects are worth a LOT of credits. Up the "crick" without a paddle, my friends (creek, I know I know, but that voice in my head always says "crick"). This situation was about to break me. There are other unsurities going on at work right now that are making me nervous. And this is not the time of year to add more pressure to me, since Christmas means family gatherings and family gatherings breed anxiety and piling anything on top of that could cause a major crash (or eruption, depending). Then the miracle happened. I stopped caring about the end result and just focused on the work. I figured I would get as far as I could and hand in whatever I could as complete as I could. Sure, some modules and components would be missing but at least I did my best, right? And you know what? I FINISHED IT. And ON TIME, I might add. Miracles do happen. And I thought my family was going to be upset with me because I basically ignored their presence for two solid days. But this morning they let me sleep in, and brought me breakfast in bed. Pancakes. I won't say it out loud. The karma gods might hear.