Quit asking “How long will it take?” and ask, “How far can I go?”

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I don’t know about you but I’m not that good with deadlines. If they are imposed on me by an outside force–a court, a client, the IRS, my wife–I usually make them. When it’s self-imposed, not so much.

It seems that most of what I do takes longer than I originally thought or planned for. Maybe I’m just bad at estimating what it takes to do things, especially when those things are open-ended and creative, which is most of what I do these days.

Douglas Adams, author of “The Salmon of Doubt,” seems to be a kindred spirit. He said, “I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.”

So I set very few deadlines these days. Target dates, maybe. But no lines in the sand.

If you ask me, “When will it be done?” I’d probably say, “I don’t know.” If you ask, “How will you know when it’s done,” I’d tell you, “I’ll just know.”

Because it’s intuitive. Right brained, not left.

And yet I get stuff done. Sometimes, after lengthy delays and detours into other projects. But so what?

Done happens.

I’ve learned to relax about “when” and focus on “what” and “why”. What do I want to do and why is it important to me? How far can I go instead of how long will it take?

Taking the pressure off helps me to be more creative and productive. I do bigger things and better things because I enjoy the doing and trust that the results will come.

I just can’t tell you when.

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