Deadlines can be very stressful to deal with, however, over time I have learned to turn deadlines from scary approaching-doom- bringers to tools that benefit me.
The way I have done this is in two simple steps:
- Many times at Juilliard, simply due to the fact that we have so many classes in addition to our coachings, lessons, and professional engagements, we end up having so many deadlines that it’s not too difficult to fall behind in them and end up drowning in the storm of last-minute organization. However, the best remedy to this which I have “discovered” in the last couple of years is (ready for this?) PRIORITIZATION!! I know it may seem obvious, but honestly, prioritizing is not easy. Here are a couple of factors to consider when prioritizing:
- Which task is urgent and which task important? The first thing I read about prioritizing, when I was first learning how to do it, was the difference between what is immediately urgent or necessary to complete in order to succeed in comparison with what is important yet not necessarily crucial for immediate attention. Being able to distinguish between these two very different levels is what distinguishes those who are able to manage deadlines and those who fall behind because they’re unable to focus on the bigger picture.
- After you identify which tasks are the most urgent, it is then time to distinguish which one means the most to you and has the most value from it being completed. For example, if you have the urgent task of learning a piece for an audition in addition to an assignment for school that's due the next day, the best place to start would be to see which deadline can be flexible and which can’t. Many times teachers are very understanding of outside professional engagements, especially teachers at Juilliard. It is true that sometimes you may get into a situation where you have no choice but to complete the school assignment. In this case, you may want to reach out to the people you are auditioning for and see if you can reschedule. If neither one will budge, it will then be up to you to decide which one matters the most. For me, I know that school comes first, especially right now while I’m trying to get my degrees. Therefore, I would make sure that I was absolutely set in my classwork and then pursue my audition after that. In general, I have had the ability to have flexibility in this area with either teachers or auditions so far, but I know it does happen that people have to miss school or miss auditions in order to succeed in both.
- Break down deadlines into smaller chunks that can be completed as soon as possible. When I used to get project deadlines in freshman year for my liberal arts classes, I would have panic attacks the entire time because I would already know from day 1 that there would be an eventual all-nighter spent in pure misery trying to figure out how to get my project/paper together at the last second. Even if I start a week before the deadline, I find that I become too busy or have too many conflicts to complete the original timeline I set out. This is why it is SO important to break down the project as soon as you get it and then start immediately. This allows for shifting of the timeline, completion with less anxiety, and NO ALL-NIGHTERS! Breaking bigger projects down into smaller pieces and completing them is very important because it gives you the confidence you need in order to complete the bigger goals.
From a young age, my mother always taught me that deadlines are not curable. Therefore, prioritizing and breaking tasks down into small pieces are two very important tools that have helped me in my quest for meeting deadlines. Clearly I’m not perfect and am always striving to be better but as I grow older, I feel like I am able to take responsibility in meeting deadlines without exceptions.
I hope this blog was helpful and I look forward to seeing you in the next one!