Consider this scenario:
It’s Monday morning. You have a big project due on Friday. You don’t feel under stress or pressure, though, because everything is on track. You have a couple days of work to do, give or take. Which is no problem, because you’ve managed your time wisely and finished the biggest tasks already. If everything goes according to plan, you’ll finish ahead of schedule – probably Wednesday afternoon, latest.
All good. You’re cruising. But then you make a mistake.
You take your foot off the gas.
“I have until Friday,” you tell yourself. “No reason to rush.”
Instead of getting busy and finishing the project with plenty of time to spare, you decide to take it easy Monday and Tuesday, with plans to power through on Wednesday and Thursday.
There are two big problems with that plan.
One is obvious: if something unexpected comes up on Wednesday or Thursday – a health issue, a relationship issue, a family thing, or a nightmare computer disaster – you won’t be able to handle that and your workload simultaneously. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day.
Suddenly you’re on the back foot, crunched for time, stressed out, on the verge of missing the important deadline.
Here’s the second problem: something unexpected comes up, but it’s not bad. It’s good. Amazingly good. An impossible-to-turn-down, potentially life-changing business opportunity lands on your desk – or in your inbox or voicemail – on Wednesday evening.
Thing is, to take advantage of it, you need to put in a solid day’s work. And here’s the kicker: to make it happen, you need to go to Cleveland. By noon on Friday.
But since you put off until Wednesday what you could easily have started Monday, you’re jammed up. You have to honor your commitment – the project due Friday – but you also have to follow up on the Cleveland job.
It’s an honest-to-goodness conundrum, with no elegant solution available.
If You Have Time, Get It Done
Time is precious. Never confuse the blank spaces on your calendar with reality. Calendars aren’t psychic fortune tellers. They can’t tell you what’s going to happen – only what you think is going to happen. When you find yourself with energy and few hours to spare, make it count. Finish your project early. Or get a head start on the one that’s due in a month.
That way, when something does come up – good or bad – you’ll have the time and space to handle it.