Dealing with Deadlines

We all face deadlines of one type or another. Some artists never seem to have the time to complete their work on schedule without rushing frantically and then putting in extra- long hours to get the job done. Some are so addicted to the adrenaline rush that they get from this last-minute effort that they will procrastinate early in the creative cycle, and then they have to hurry to meet the project deadline. These are the people who are fond of saying “I work better under pressure.”

Having worked with a few of these people, most often in theatre, I can testify that some people do indeed work well under pressure. Whether it is “better” or not I cannot judge, never having seen them do it any other way. And the fact is that some people do not work well under pressure. They manage to get the job done, but they often have to resort to shortcuts and frequently do work that is sloppy and can, at very best, be described as “adequate.” The disclaimer is, of course, “I tried, but I just ran out of time.”

The reality is that they ran out of time because they set the project up that way, or they didn’t use what time they had to their best advantage.

This problem is certainly not exclusive to theatre. Any creative endeavor can be delayed, and then rushed into completion—with results that are usually less than stellar. And even when the results are acceptable, all that emotional and physical turmoil takes its toll. The creative process becomes much more harried and trying that it might be otherwise. Repeated often enough it can become draining.

My experience with trying to do a creative project in a time frame that is short is that the work is not what it could have been with just a little more careful concern, which would have been easily supplied with better planning and/or scheduling. Not only is the quality of the work lower, but it often costs more. Whether you are utilizing the time of an assistant in your own studio, or having contractors perform tasks associated with getting your work to the public, you find that when workers go on overtime, or jobs get labeled “rush,” the price goes up, and since the market price doesn’t change to reflect that increase, you may be cutting your own income.

So, what to do? No, this is not where a list of time management techniques is inserted. There are myriad books and articles and videos on that topic. Those can be found with a quick Google search; the difficult part will be deciding on which sources will be really helpful.

My one suggestion is to change your work procedure. It may not be a time management problem so much as it is a problem of approach. A number of artists, in all media, have discovered that once they really critically examine the way they go about creating, they can discover new ways of working that seem to generate more time to work on the project. They do not, of course, but a new methodology or a new place or a different schedule can make the process so much more comfortable that it seems to have magically created more time. The artist feels better, the work is better, and more of it gets done.

There is pain enough associated with creation; we don’t have to generate more by using methodology that is not designed to get the job done in the best way possible. You may never find the perfect way, but you can look at what you are doing now and imagine ways that will make your process easier, which can, in turn, make you more productive.

Date: Sunday, 23. September 2012 22:34
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