My two Cents: Why you Can’t Beat your Deadlines

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Do you remember the good old days when we would be in studio all day and all night. We would all miss the other units’ lessons and all the other lecturers knew to back off at that time (except maybe the stubborn few who decided they would give a continuous assessment test on the day for your big marking.) In Architecture school that was the most important day of your life and nothing would get in the way of your undivided attention to your work and most importantly your deadline. Well, for me, those days are gone and now I can barely make it past 4pm staring at my computer, I have new responsibilities and on top of that I have to deal with Nairobi traffic at the end of the day. All that said, one thing remains constant, we still have deadlines to meet!!!

So how come we find it so difficult to beat our deadlines and how can we change that? Here are some of the reasons I personally face on a day to day basis and ways that I am currently working on them.

1) YOU DON’T HAVE CLEAR DEADLINES

This may be the most common reason for working architects. We often get a project and for most clients the importance of a clear date of completion doesn’t seem like a priority. Unlike school where your brief(desription of works to be done) has timelines and your studio master is keen on keeping them, when you are working you may do a proposal for over a year (especially residential proposals).

In a scenario like this, you need to set your own deadlines. You need to put a time limit on your creative juices and force yourself to make a final decision at a certain point. This is best done in conjunction with your client and if possible, read the kind of timeline your boss(if you are employed) usually gives you and set an even shorter timeline.

Reasons;

Some may argue that if the client has the time let us design for as long as we can. Well there are many benefits to a deadline. First off your time is very precious and you wouldn’t want to waste it doing repetitive work only to end up with your original design. Secondly, architects are called consultants for a reason (the name speaks for itself). We are meant to advise the client accordingly, especially on matters time because with time, costs escalate, any loans we acquire gain interest and again, time is money. Third, and this was often said a few minutes to pin-up time, design never ends!

2) YOU DON’T HAVE CLEAR GOALS (ESPECIALLY SHORT TERM)

You may have the project and the deadline and you know that you want to complete this project by said date, but you have no means to get there. Progress is a process and not a destination. To get to your ultimate goal, short term goals need to be set. These are the steps on a ladder that take us to our higher goal.

You can set your own short term goals and make sure to stick to them. Write them down and in detail write what specific areas you want to complete in a certain time set. Writing something down is very powerful. It is even better if you have one book where you set your goals (Those diaries from paint companies are not just for you to look cool)

Reason;

Our brains always react to a huge pile of work in the negative, but if we divide the same pile into small pieces and set time goals, the brain believes the goals are attainable and sometimes we get some extra time to relax at the end of the task. Anything big looks small when broken down, and that’s why we eat pizza in slices and not in wholes.

3) YOU ARE DISTRACTED

Do you remember back in high school when the mail girl(or boy) brought the mail to the dorms. Well, now instead of waiting for that mail, every second of our day is spent wondering if so and so replied to that message. This is the biggest issue for our generation. We have so much that our mind would rather do, be it facebook, twitter, that e-mail or just reading loads of blog posts (Haha!)

If we are going to do ANYTHING MEANINGFUL we need to SWITCH OFF!

Yesterday I heard a very profound way of thinking of it. Instead of living our (architectural) dream we are living someone else’s dream. Each time we look at our social media sites we are making someone else’s dreams come true. Every time we check our emails every two seconds (regardless of the fact that we have an alert on the phone) we are taking those minutes from our dream into someone else’s.

I must say, I am of this generation and distracted I can be, not only in the office but also at home when I am supposed to enjoy the company of my family and focus on my writing. So I took some drastic measures and uninstalled the most distracting social media site app from my phone. I also set a time schedule to check my social media and hopefully after 21days, (I am halfway there) I will be so used to the schedule I will hardly remember to get distracted. And after you eliminate your distractions you will see how much time you have to focus and complete your work on time.

Reasons;

We all get the urge to do things that give us immediate gratification. Its normal, but then again, to be great architects we need to be much much more than normal. And in the end you will find that delayed gratification is much more fulfilling than immediate gratification… because deep down each of our hearts we want to be the best architects we can be.

4) YOU ARE OVER-COMMITTED

If you are an over-achiever being over-committed somehow just happens to you. You work crazy hours in the office (take on all the projects thrown your way), you have two businesses on the side, you are in school furthering your studies, you are a mum, dad, wife, husband, girlfriend or boyfriend and on top of that you are the youth leader at your church and the secretary of your BORAQS revision group and the chairperson of your chama….

WOW!

Too much is not impressive, its just that TOO MUCH!!!!

Stop saying yes to everything just because you feel you have leadership qualities. Change your default answer when asked to do anything from ‘yes’ to ‘Let me think about it’. Then actually think about it. Prioritize and make sure you only take on what you can handle because whomever is asking you to do something deserves full attention and if you cannot give it to them then s/he is better off getting someone who will.

I was a chronic over-commiter and then I realized I had little time left for the most important things in my life. So if you feel you have too much going on, put the breaks on hold and choose what is important to you.

Reasons;

You are only one person so stop taking on an army’s responsibility!

Thank you for your time today and I hope you can get out of your day and weekend a lot more time! Comment below on ways you have met your deadlines and share, like and follow.

That’s my two cents!

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