"Time is at once the most valuable and the most perishable of all our possessions." ~ John Randolph, US Politician (1773 - 1833)
Time is one of our precious, non-renewable resources. We know this.
Work takes time. We make time for things that we want to get done, and sometimes feel like we must get done. I am a bigger fan of wanting to get something completed, as it creates desire and not obligation, but this article is about knowing how you address time when it comes to work, and in particular deadlines and deliverables.
Since we are amidst the 2012 Olympics, I will call the three approaches Bronze, Silver and Gold, as they all can be successful...depending on your personality, effort, expectations and outcomes. The three approaches are immediate (Bronze), just-in-time (silver), and project plan (gold). While I am using the medals as a reference, it is not that gold is best for all, and silver is better than bronze, rather it is about knowing your style and either accepting it or intentionally changing it, instead of thinking you should be doing something differently when what you do works for you!
Bronze style means you get back from a client, out of a meeting, or have a thought, and immediately work on what was discussed. If bronze is your approach, then ensure you schedule time after each meeting, sales pitch or brainstorming activity.
Silver style is that of a person who believe s/he "works best under pressure. They tend to schedule things back-to-back and fill the days with new and more things, people, and opportunities. If you are silver approach person, then book work time in your office close the day before something is due. Ensure you book enough time, as silver style people often underestimate how long things will take!
Gold style is the project manager style approach. This is a person who wants to work a bit at a time. If you are a gold approach person, book blocks of time each week or every few days in order to chip away at parts of the work you have to do.
The Gold style may seem ideal, and it likely paces things well, but if that does not work for you, then either schedule yourself because you want the process to work, or step away from the idea of "what should be", and embrace what you are.
Bronze, Silver and Gold medals all get accolades and recognition at the Olympics, and each of the approaches to completing work can, in fact, work, too, as long as the time is allotted and planned for appropriately! I personally work all three styles with different clients and various deliverables.
Consider what is the best bet for your situation, and then embrace it...Olympic style!