When my two 5th graders brought home notices about the upcoming science fair, I cringed. Science fairs are the bane of every non-sciency parent’s existence. It’s not the science experiment itself. It’s the organizing and the planning and the reporting and also making the children do the work so it doesn’t become something I really feel I should have earned an A on myself.
My first thought was, “Oh crap. I’m going to have to organize a timeline so we’re not doing this the weekend before it’s due.” I’ve heard horror stories! Luckily the teachers had printed out a sample timeline, spelling out at which dates they should have completed certain parts of their project.
Planning…is not my strength. My youngest would start thinking about the project right away, gathering her ideas and saying, “Mom. We need to work on my science project today. Like right now,” while I sigh and lament the fact that school is interfering with my leisure time again. Ugh, it’s not due until FEBRUARY, I would mutter.
My older two are like me. Less enthusiastic. We know it needs to get done, but we’re in no hurry. Until we have to be, you know, when February inevitably rolls around, as it tends to do after January.
This is how I (reluctantly) run my life. If it was up to me, we’d be doing the majority of the project the weekend before. There are marathoners – those who plan well ahead and can work on something over a long period of time – and there are sprinters – those who let tasks run up to the wire, skidding across the finish line, completed project in hand. I am a sprinter. Last minute Leigh Ann. The end date is all I see. But that’s not necessarily the example I want to set for my kids, who – let’s be honest – need some help in the “get your butt in gear” arena.
Christmas shopping? I buy a few things at the start of the season, then relax because so much time left! Then I’m scrambling to get things purchased and shipped in time. I see you people who brag on Facebook about having finished all of their Christmas shopping on Black Friday, and I do not understand you.
When I committed to presenting at our school’s Career Day, I spent an entire week thinking, “Oh shit, what have I done,” then pretending I hadn’t actually signed up. After I accepted my fate, I spent the next week ruminating on how I would actually present my job as a writer and Managing Editor for a nonprofit to a class full of 5th graders, because LOL what even is that?* (If my boss is reading this, don’t worry, I have everything under control. I totally know what my job is.)
But it wasn’t until about 9:30 p.m. the evening before the presentation that I even sat down and banged out my script (yes, I wrote a script; this is MY JOB).
And yes, I am writing this very blog post at 10 p.m. on Saturday evening, because I have made a promise to myself that I will publish every week on Friday or Saturday, giving myself all week to toss ideas around in my head and a few days to write it out. Unfortunately this week there was very little tossing, so here I am, furiously trying to turn this word salad into a solid post.
For what it’s worth, I always feel I do my best work. Running up against the deadline doesn’t compromise my quality that I know of. And I’ve seen people hand in shitty work. But do I truly work better this way? Or do I just lack the proper planning skills? Does running down a deadline truly help me focus? Or could my work be better given more of a marathon-like process?
I don’t know the answers to these questions just yet. Most of the time I feel just fine sliding into home at the last minute. But I have to admit, it would be nice to finish something well ahead of time once in a while. Maybe I’ll try that next week.
*If you’re curious, it means I oversee all of the online written content for the organization. Website copy, blog posts, newsletters, emails, etc., it’s had my eyeballs on it before it goes out.