The Joy of Deadlines (for Fun and Profit)

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In the early days, I would panic.

Friday night. The day before show day. 24 hours from now every seat in the TV studio will be filled, and a million more viewers will be watching the show on television.

And we don’t have a show for them.

It could be any number of reasons: that big piece we’d worked so hard on all week just didn’t come together in editing; the guest we’d booked and promoted canceled earlier today; the perfect monolog we’d written has to be scrapped and rewritten because a bigger news story has made it obsolete.

And any of this could happen on any given week.

In the early days, I would panic.

Later on, of course—probably sometime around year 6—I was used to these crises and could handle them pretty easily.

But for the entire 15 years that I was the Executive Producer of Seattle’s legendary comedy TV show Almost Live!, there was one thing that I always found strangely reassuring.

The deadline.

The fact that, no matter what, there would be a show at 11:30 on Saturday night. It might not be the greatest show ever. It might not be the best show of the season. It might not be the show we submit for the Emmy Award. But there would be a show.

Because there was no other option.

We had a deadline.

#Deadlines can be your friend! #pressure #producingunderpressure #leadership Click To Tweet

In the years since Almost Live!, deadlines continue to be my best friend. Whenever I’m developing a new keynote program, I find the best way to finish it is to get myself booked. If I know I’m delivering that new keynote to 1,500 nurses on October 14th, that keynote is going to get finished!

Because there’s no other option.

Just like me, you have to produce under pressure. Maybe not every week, but often enough. It comes with leadership.

Sometimes that pressure is self-imposed. Maybe it’s a project you’ve been putting off, or a task you want to complete. Here’s my tip:

Give yourself a deadline.

Put it on the calendar. Tell people about it (people who will hold you accountable!). Break it down into steps if possible (e.g., “I’ll have the first 10 pages written by next Tuesday”)—and then put those on the calendar.

To get something done, give yourself a #deadline…and put it on the calendar! @billstainton #pressure #producingunderpressure #leadership Click To Tweet

I wrote, published, and printed my first book in one month—because a client who had booked me for a speaking engagement called a month before the event to let me know that they expected me to have a book to sell. I’m not saying it was War and Peace, but it turned out to be a nice little business book about the Beatles. (If you’re interested, you can get it here.)

So stop cursing deadlines! Learn to want them, create them, love them—and you’ll accomplish more than you ever thought possible!


About the Author:

29-time Emmy Award winner and Hall of Fame keynote speaker Bill Stainton, CSP is an expert on Innovation, Creativity, and Breakthrough Thinking. He helps leaders and their teams come up with innovative solutions — on demand — to their most challenging problems.
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