Tuesday, November 4, 2008

My Halloween Scare

Don't you hate it when you screw up something months before and only realize it too late? That happened to me this morning. 

I used to have a problem with deadlines. Deadlines set by me arbitrarily just didn't seem very important--if I set it, then I should be able to reset it, right?--and I regularly missed mine. Then I started having deadlines set by others, others who paid me to get the project done on time and didn't pay me if I didn't. Suddenly, it was a whole different ball game and I got pretty good at it. I make my deadlines now. It's a point of pride.

So, I've been working towards a deadline for Friday for a publication I edit, where the deadline schedule is set for the year by the national company that owns this publication and several others like it. I manage several freelancers and gave them the Friday deadline, too. But, there's a problem I found out about in my e-mail inbox this morning: the deadline was actually last Friday, on Halloween. 

I got a nice e-mail from the national editor this morning asking me politely if my stories might be ready soon. He's pretty laid back, but the e-mail woke me up in a flash. What? Stories ready? Why would he be asking me that now? With an impending sense of dread, I opened up the editorial calendar for all the different markets, and looked under the December issue. Yep. Arkansas deadline: Oct. 31. 

Several months ago, when I was transferring all the dates to my calendar, I managed to look at the wrong line, the one right below it for some of the other publications, which were to be due Nov. 7. Agh!

Whoa. Not only had I missed my deadline, I and all my freelancers were going to miss it by a week! I sent back a quick and profound apology and explanation, asked for further direction (Get whatever we could scrambled together today? Turn in stories tomorrow? Hide my head in the sand and think about changing my name and hair color and never surfacing again? Give up my first-born child?), e-mailed my freelancers for status updates on their stories, and generally found myself in problem-solving mode, on turbo.  

Meanwhile, I amped up my efforts this morning to reach all the contacts I needed for my various articles. These people, mostly doctors and healthcare administrators, are notoriously hard to reach and take days to return calls. This morning, however, someone sent them the memo that I needed a break, and I've gotten a hold of pretty much everyone I needed, and more. I think I've already interviewed or set up interviews with 10 people, and it's not even noon. 

In the end, it turned out OK. My editor said to go ahead with the Friday deadline, and we are all on track to meet that. I still feel awful and guilty and irresponsible, even though it was an honest mistake, but at least I'm running on adrenaline now and getting all kinds of things done. 

See, I even got a blog post written. 

1 comment:

Laura said...

I was going to make a comment on how you waited for the busiest of days to find time to blog. Not because I would find it unexpected, but because it seems like an all too common trend for me. Maybe it's genetic.

Adrenaline can be good stuff. Congrats on saving the day!