And did I mention that it’s a long weekend? Before my son was in daycare, a long weekend was just that, a longer than usual break from responding to email, or having to schedule meetings. But now a long weekend means no daycare on Friday or Monday – the two days I had anticipated, and needed, to finish all this work.
Such is life and I will get the talk finished. In this particular instance, it was difficult to prepare the talk in advance — given that it is supposed to be a response to the other paper. So I doubt that it will be the most thoughtful, well-researched piece of work I have ever produced. But, truth be told, I see little reason in being angry or frustrated given that, at this point, I can’t change the situation.
This situation is also far from the first missed deadline I’ve encountered in academia. I’m not strict with my students about deadlines: for major assignments I tell them that, within reason, so long as they contact me in advance of the deadline I will consider an extension. And in every class I have ever taught, even with that flexible policy, at least one student has missed a deadline.
The most egregious missed deadlines I’ve encountered have been when editing journals, issues, or books. Chasing down peer reviewers and revisions are the main reasons I can see, why there can be long delays in works seeing the published light of day. The most frustrating situation I found myself in was when I accepted a series of abstracts for a special issue of a journal and then the deadline for the completed paper came and went, with two of the seven contributors submitting nothing. I tried to contact each author repeatedly but never even got the courtesy of a response.
And I’m far from innocent in all of this. I have missed deadlines because I misjudged how much work I was taking on; because of circumstances beyond my control (such as when I had my work computer stolen); or because I felt that it was worth taking extra time to complete something.
What have I learned from all these missed deadlines?
1) Remind students / contributors / colleagues that things are coming due. Repeat.
2) Don’t miss deadlines. It throws everything off and reflects poorly on you. Sometimes it is more important that you show up then that you be the most brilliant belle at the ball.
3) If you have to miss a deadline, contact the person to whom the work is due and let them know that you are going to be late and give them a realistic alternate deadline. And then don’t beat yourself up about it. Sh** happens.
On that note, I have a talk I have to go prepare.