We Killed Our Deadline And Regained Sanity

We Killed Our Deadline And Regained Sanity

to do list Deadlines, schedules, and to do lists are a way of life for many of us. Get something done, scratch it off the list, give self pat on the back, move on the next thing. For the most part keeping them is a benefit for projects, especially when it comes to building. After all, it would just be an incredible waste of time to not know what was on the schedule for the day and show up completely unprepared without the right materials or tools. But there comes a time when these seemingly helpful time management tools can backfire and literally work against the benefit of the project. Sometimes you need to kill the deadline to stay sane.

As much as I hate to admit it, I have a bend towards being a type A personality. I gain a nauseating amount of satisfaction from crossing off tasks on to do lists. Getting as much done throughout the day as humanly possible is my speed. So, for me, deadlines and to do lists are dangerously alluring and if I am not mindful, they can become the center of my universe. Not good. It’s not that these time management tools are in any way bad in and of themselves, it’s just that for us A types, we can easily lose sight of the natural flow and timing of life when schedules start to rule the show.

Here’s a perfect example. After 3 weeks of delay, our beautiful, new windows were finally delivered. Just in time too as the forecast was calling for heavy rain for at least the next 10 days. In a lucky break in the weather, we installed all 12 of them and scratched that task off the master schedule (big pats on the back). As we fell asleep that night and the deluge began, I smiled, comforted that our tiny house was going to be good and dry.

Imagine our horror when we went into our tiny house the next morning and discovered water literally pouring into the window channels. Stress and tension escalated instantly and underneath it all, the unthinkable: this may put us behind schedule. In that moment, and for several hours afterwards, I was overcome by dread. Gone was any ability to look at the situation from a calm and rational perspective. Gone was any ability to creatively come up with a solution. Gone was any ability to find the humor and irony that the heavens would open up literally a few hours after we had broken our water tight house by installing windows.

Fortunately, my husband Andrew is in many ways my polar opposite. He was the one that pointed out that the stress I was feeling had to do with the deadline I had set for the build. In that moment I knew he was right. Totally right. He proposed that we drop the deadline and choose instead to bring back the fun in our build (there is no bigger buzz kill to fun than dowsing it with a deadline).

Since then the build has been going great. I am excited again to start each day. We are doing as much as we can and that’s all we can do. We have decided to risk that we won’t be done with our build in the timeline that we had hoped for but that seems like a small price to have fun, stay sane and love what we are doing.

We have adopted a new name for our to do list (because as I mentioned, they really are great tools when used in balance). We call it “FUN THINGS TO DO TO THE BEST OF OUR ABILITY IN THE BEST TIMEFRAME WE CAN MANAGE”. Has a better ring than “DEADline” don’t you think?!

p.s. In case you are curious, it turns out that our windows are defective. A Millgard rep will come by and fix all of them for us. The fix won’t put us behind schedule at all.

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One Response to We Killed Our Deadline And Regained Sanity

  1. Andrew Morrison November 11, 2013 at 8:35 am #

    I should throw in here that having been a contractor for many years, I understand the importance of a critical path (a schedule that denotes the entire project, moment by moment) and I see the value in staying on track. It is really easy, especially for someone working on their own place, to NEVER finish their project if they don’t have a deadline and a path to achieve it. That said, we don’t have subcontractors working on this house that I need to schedule. We have a place to stay (several actually as our friends have opened their homes to us when the weather gets bad…or should I say STAYS bad). The only reason for our deadline is because we wanted to have the project done by a specific date of our choosing. For this reason, we can move that date as much as we want.

    We still plan to stay motivated and get stuff done, but we plan to have fun along the way again. That is a MUCH better way to build: in fun.

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