The Missed Deadline Fee

by Kimberly Alexander, M.S.

Well it’s only the first full week into the new academic year and I already missed a deadline. Crazy thing is that I carry my planner everywhere with me…even when I’m on vacation, going shopping, or to the park. Sometimes I say to myself that if I had to work as anything else it might be a professional organizer! I consider myself particularly skilled at planning and PERFECTLY organized. I have THE MOST meticulous attention to detail that I don’t think I WILL EVER miss a step.

But this post is hardly about all the reasons why someone should hire me…

You see the reality is that I already missed a deadline for the semester. And it’s not the first time in my entire life that something slipped my mind. It likely will not be the last time either. The irony in this particular case is that I remembered the deadline up until the day of and became so exhausted by the end of the day that I simply forgot to get to the task. Then, when I actually remembered the task, post-deadline, I felt really really crummy. Largely embarrassed, but also angry at myself for letting other things get in the way of me remembering to do the assignment. I was telling myself that my supervisors will look at me as unorganized and not a skilled professional as I SHOULD to be perceived. I thought to myself that I’m a bad student for sloppily attending to this deadline. I am going to fail this entire year because I already can’t keep organized.

I think this problem is twofold. 1) The belief I have about myself being “the most meticulous” and “a perfect organizer” are so extreme that they are unrealistic. What is “perfect” exactly and how can you ever be that when you have had slips, misses, and screw ups? Furthermore, even if you have never had a slip, miss, or screw up, how do you know you will not have any in the future? 2) The beliefs I have about how I will be perceived and what will happen for missing this deadline are also extreme and unrealistic. Missing this one deadline does not determine the outcome of the entire academic year ahead of me. Furthermore, I cannot demand I be perceived favorably by my supervisors. Fact of the matter is that the assignment is late. At best, I will have opportunities to make good on future deadlines and I can hope that this will be viewed by my supervisors as an isolated incident but in the event it isn’t viewed as such, that doesn’t change my self-worth as a professional because there are so many qualities that make up my role as a professional to globally evaluate my worth based on one incident regarding one factor. And worrying is actually giving me a headache which is not going to help me get the assignment submitted any sooner.

So I got to typing… and actually completed the assignment fairly quickly. And in the future, just as an added incentive to keeping organized, my older brother happily agreed to be paid $20, by me, for every assignment I submit after deadline! Needless to say, THAT WON’T BE HAPPENING… ***correction I prefer that not to happen.

Kimberly Alexander, M.S.

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