Deadlines

    One of my adjustments to seminary life was a return to academic life after 12 years. Looking back at this point of the semester, I think that my sense of deadlines had to evolve.

    I was a copy editor for 12 years. In a daily newspaper, the most important deadline was today. The editing and designing of tomorrow’s issue had to be done today on time so the presses could start and subscribers could expect a newspaper at their front doors. Almost all shifts are geared toward that hitting that deadline. The drive toward a perfectly designed and edited newspaper is always balanced against the clock. That sense of urgency soaks into a copy editor.

Long-term planning wasn’t a priority. Supervisors would occasionally recommend tackling bigger long-term projects and editing material for later in the week. But after eight hours of meeting the daily deadline, a copy editor found it difficult to focus on tomorrow or next week.

    Now in a graduate class, the deadline wasn’t today. I found deadlines for papers or homework due not tomorrow but later in the week or in the month. Sometimes, I would quickly finish an assignment days ahead of time and pay the price of not checking for mistakes before submitting it. I had to learn when to ease off and when to rush.

    Recently, I found this sense of urgency worked in my favor. I had a philosophy paper and a Spanish quiz in a week. On Monday, my logic professor assigned homework due on the same day as the philosophy paper. Now I could finish the paper on Thursday and then work on the logic homework. Or I could complete the homework on Monday and free up the rest of the week for writing the paper and studying the quiz. I opted for the second option. I didn’t want that logic homework hanging over me throughout the week. I studied for Spanish for a few hours, but I dedicated most of the week editing the paper and checking for Chicago style. (I’ll save my gripes for Chicago style later). The Spanish quiz ended up being easy and the paper was done Thursday afternoon.

    Lessons:

  1. Learn to prioritize and plan out the week.
  2. If you can finish something today, better do it. Adjustments can be made later.

    I wonder how my former co-workers see deadlines after their journalism stints. If any of my former copyediting peeps would like to give their take on deadlines, please comment below or on Facebook.

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