Perhaps strangely, I’ve always enjoyed deadlines. I remember, for instance, racing across London in a taxi to a national newspaper’s printing works clutching a piece of camera-ready artwork for a full page ad.
As I sprinted into the building (those were the days) a member of staff yanked the artwork from my hands and dashed off through a pair of double doors which swung back in forth in his wake.
They’d literally been holding the press for me, and I’d just made it, by the skin of my teeth.
Life in an advertising agency is built around deadlines like this. Space is bought in newspapers, slots are booked on TV, then there’s often a race to produce the material that will be printed or broadcast.
Although those deadlines were often nail-biting, there was always a great feeling of completion once you’d reached them. You’d done all you had to do, and could add nothing more once the presses were running.
Some of life, of course, comes entirely without deadlines. We do things in our own time. We take things as they come.
But I wonder if it’s useful to erect our own goalposts now and then? To take a task that could otherwise stretch into eternity, and make a commitment to have it finished in a week’s time?
(Or, at the very least, started.)