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Friday, Aug. 26, 2016

I need a deadline

Posted Wednesday, December 23, 2009, at 4:28 AM

Working from behind on projects is all I've ever known.

I'd say it's a pattern of behavior that began somewhere in junior high school. Then when I was involved in about 100 activities and sports in high school, it was only natural that it continued.

In college, I couldn't help it. I had a social life to keep up.

And then I "grew up" and became a journalist. So how do I operate now? I need a deadline. That's just the way it is.

As I type this, it's 4:11 a.m., and I just finished a project I've know about for over a month.

Now, I can make all the excuses I want to about this. I work better when it's quiet in the middle of the night. I've had a lot on my mind with Christmas approaching. I have plenty of other things going on right now, so I just hadn't gotten around to it yet.

All of these have grains of truth to them, but the real truth of the matter is a deadline doesn't have any real meaning to me until it's a day or two away. Given that I work in an industry where a new deadline presents itself every day, it looks like I chose careers well.

I guess the culprit for my current state of procrastination came from way back in the winter of 1998. I was the co-sports editor of Spirit, the Seeger High School Editor. At the time, I was a low-grade procrastinator, but a real amateur by my current standards.

For once, I was ahead of things on my deadline. With nearly two weeks to go until the final deadline, I was sitting pretty with the two-page layout on the cheerleading squad. The story was written. The layout was designed. The pictures were nearly all in place. I was a single picture and caption away from completion.

And that's when it happened. I unsuspectingly walked into the yearbook room to discover the spread was gone. Search as we might, no one could find it. It wasn't on the server. (I think we had servers back then.) It wasn't on the computer. It wasn't on ANY computer.

In the end, I had to start all over, with only my printed proofs as guides. Looking back on it, the 2009 Jared could probably do the work in about 45 minutes. But that wasn't the case in 1998. I painstakingly used my time over the next two weeks to recreate what I had lost. When it was all done, I was traumatized. I swore I'd learned my lesson and would never work ahead again. What good had it done?

And here I am; it's nearly 12 years later, and I've never looked back. I was always told it would catch up with me someday. It's come painfully close a few times, but I always manage to get by.

I suppose I'll keep it up until I get burned by waiting too late and swear that off. I doubt it at this point, though.

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...and the beat goes on...
Jared Jernagan
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Jared Jernagan is a 2003 graduate of Wabash College and has been in journalism since 2005.
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