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Saturday, January 16, 2010

How to recognize an impossible deadline

Have you ever started stitching toward a deadline, only to realize, as the date creeps nearer, that you're not going to make it? What do you do?

A few weeks ago, I posted about dealing with deadlines, explaining that I try not to set deadlines in stitching. Occasionally, though, a project comes along with a deadline. I've had two such projects in the past month.

The first was my How Great the Blessing sampler. This deadline was of my own making. I was trying to finish by the end of the year since I had already stitched the date on the sampler.

The second deadline was on a piece that I hadn't started until just over a week ago. I was reminded this past fall that I needed to submit my step two canvas project for EGA Master Craftsman certification by April 1. (There's really no reason why I hadn't finished this long before now. I've only had the instructions for five years.)

In the process of working toward these two deadlines, I've come to the realization that I can recognize when a deadline is impossible. It's a simple thought process, really:

  • Identify how much stitching needs to be done. This can be done by estimating the time needed, or by counting areas to be stitched (the number of bands in a band sampler, for example).
  • Divide the amount of stitching by the number of weeks until the deadline.
  • Consider how much you stitch in a given week, and determine if you can possibly stitch the amount needed to meet the deadline.
That's it. In my case, I started the Master Craftsman piece a little over a week ago. This is a canvas project that has 21 areas to be stitched. I figured that I needed to stitch two areas a week to get the piece finished by mid-March so it would arrive on time. After one week, I had one area completely done, and one barely started - and this was with all other stitching set aside and only one newsy blog post.

Wait a minute. I stitch for enjoyment! And I very recently got back into the habit of writing several posts a week, and I don't want to give that up. I wouldn't make the deadline even if I did give up both of these, due to time limitations. (Eventually I'll learn that I can't finish things as quickly as I did pre-motherhood!)

So, what do you do when you realize you're not going to make a deadline?
  • If you've already put a date on a project and that date is looming, you can always put another date on the project. Both dates are correct, in terms of when you stitched the project! (That's my plan for the sampler.)
  • For an outside deadline, see if there's a way to postpone it. In my case, I wrote to the master craftsman program chairman to ask what it would take to re-enroll in the program. For correspondence courses, often the teacher will extend the deadline.
  • In the case of gifts for special occasions, find a creative way to package an IOU. I've heard of people wrapping the project in progress with a little IOU poem.
What about you? Are you able to recognize when you're not going to make a deadline? What do you do about it?

As for me, I'm back to working queen stitches on my sampler, and plan to have an update posted soon.

    1 comment:

    stitchinfiend said...

    I like you rarely make deadlines. I hate stitching under pressure. I do tend to put things off though and will do things at the last minute.