I began my Journalism career as a producer on TV Globo, and there is one detail that comes frequently to my mind: while working there, I never went to bed without having completed the task of the day.
It’s not that I was faster or more committed. What made it possible was that every single day I had the same simple task: putting a news piece on the air. And it was impossible to think it might not happen. After all, the news simply had to be broadcasted ー at the time and with the length someone else had determined. It was an unbreakable given.
At that time (about ten years ago) I’d never even heard the word “deliverable”. It wasn’t and still isn’t part of the Brazilian journalistic jargon. So only today, working among developers in a software company, I may look back and say, “Gee, I had one really big deliverable per day.”
I like to think of this in order to reinforce an important idea to my current self:
When the deadline tightens, you find a way to deliver.
And the way to deliver is probably not only to produce more, but mainly to better organize expectations and to dos.
Think about when you were in school and needed to learn geography. Your teacher did not ask you to do a final exam explaining the workings of planet Earth from one day to the next. Instead, they asked you to do an exercise on rivers for the next day, then to do another one on mountains for the day after, and so on.
But if they said that instead of one you had ten days to do the exercise on rivers, it would probably take you ten days. It’s an old story: a task expands through the entire time you are given to complete it.
In fact, I like to think of work as a gaseous material. It can be compressed (but only to a certain point before causing an explosion), and the more compression, the higher the pressure. But when it comes to expanding it, it advances happily through all the available space.
For content creators, it’s vital to find the balance between unbreakable deadlines and the space necessary to be creative. Because content needs two things that seem to be almost opposites: it needs to go beyond the four walls inside which our minds usually live and it needs to be as frequent and reliable as a clock. Finding the productivity mindset that will make it be both is what makes you grow fast.