Until October 2011, deadlines were important to my non-work life–deadlines, that is, in addition to the usual deadlines (such as taxes, payments…).
I specify non-work in the sense of “not part of your salaried day job,” since I’m not really thinking about all those deadlines. You could make the case that anything with a deadline is, in some way, work, but let’s not go there.
For me, overlapping and multiple deadlines were important enough that I’ve kept a printed Current Schedule spreadsheet, covering 108 days from when the current one is printed, for probably more than a decade now.
Why 108 days? At the row height I used in Excel, from the beginning of the page, 54 rows plus a heading row fit nicely on a single sheet, and the sheet is two date-columns wide. Five columns in all–two each of dates and projects, one of actual deadlines.
The spreadsheet was good because it kept me on track, and because crossing things off is always satisfying. I would usually allocate five days for a column, seven days for Cites & Insights, and so on–and would have bolded “finish point” dates that were usually a little ahead of the actual hard deadline over in the rightmost column. Soft deadlines (e.g., books, which typically have deadlines at least six months out, and articles without firm commitments, where the deadline’s purely internal) had working days scattered throughout the available time–and I made sure there were “Slack” days as well as, of course, travel days.
I still keep the current schedule, but now it’s a little odd. I have one fairly firm deadline, for a book–and that one’s still more than three months out.
Laziness, Procrastination and Deadlines
I consider myself fairly lazy (but also, at times, fairly efficient). I’m a whiz at procrastination. And deadlines in the form of a printed schedule (if you want to call me a Luddite, that’s your call) helped. A lot.
True confession: This post is at least partly procrastination. I finished the expanded research for my libraries-in-social-networks book Tuesday, took a day off Wednesday before starting on the new metrics and wholly revised manuscript–and find that I’m not quite ready to get going yet. Maybe tomorrow. In the meantime, there’s LSW/FF, video poker, reading…and this post. Well, OK, I did prepare two initial derivative spreadsheets (one as a “self-benchmark,” representing the 40-odd libraries where people sent me comments and clearly thought their social network presences were successful, the other combining Fall 2011 checks of 5,961 public libraries in 38 states, not including the 17 libraries where I received direct comments but the libraries aren’t within those 38 states), but that’s a pretty small start.
Here’s the thing: Most editors would say I’m absurdly good at deadlines–typically a month ahead for most monthly and bimonthly columns. I’ve missed precisely one deadline since I started doing scheduled writing, and I told the editor about that as soon as it was obvious I’d miss the deadline (I was a week late).
I figure I always kept ahead of deadlines because, for several years, I had so many of them that I figured that if I missed one, the whole string would come down like a row of dominoes.
How long have I been dealing with publication deadlines? I’ll leave out books, since those deadlines are both longer and softer. I’ll also leave out articles, since most of those didn’t have prescribed deadlines. Otherwise, here’s what I find:
That’s when I started doing the “Common Sense Personal Computing” articles in Library Hi Tech–quarterly deadlines, but deadlines nonetheless.
- Library Hi Tech (four issues)
- LITA Newsletter (two issues)–I started editing the LITA Newsletter halfway through 1985. Initially, this was a complex set of editorial deadlines (gathering material, editing material, preparing layout, sending off to ALA for typesetting, checking proofs) driven by the desire to have late writing deadlines and the need to meet external production deadlines.
- Library Hi Tech–four issues each year (although one or two were combined issues or special issues that skipped the article)
- LITA Newsletter–four issues each year. In mid-1986, this changed from traditional ALA typesetting, layout and production to desktop publishing, primarily so that I could increase the page count without increasing the budget. That change also resulted in different (not looser!) deadlines, and added to the workflow.
- Library Hi Tech–Four issues, but the running title was now “Trailing Edge,” as I gave up on finding common sense in personal computing. (Or, really, wanted a broader topic range.)
- LITA Newsletter–Four issues
- Information Standards Quarterly–I was the founding editor of NISO’s new quarterly. It came out–guess what?–four times a year. There was an Editor’s Notebook in each issue, but most of the work was trying to get copy, rewrite it, and prepare the layout (initially desktop-published).
Quarterly (more or less)
- Library Hi Tech–still “Trailing Edge”
- LITA Newsletter
- Information Standards Quarterly — I gave this up after Volume 3.
- Public-Access Computer Systems Review–”Public-Access Provocations.” PACS Review, one of the earliest Open Access publications in librarianship, wasn’t necessarily quarterly, and my column didn’t necessarily appear in each issue, but I did have three columns in 1990 and two in 1991, as well as an Afterword for the 1990 volume when I prepared the paperback version of that year’s issues (published by LITA in 1992).
Quarterly (more or less)
- LITA Newsletter. I was editing and producing this throughout this period–and for the last two issues in 1992 and first two in 1993, I wrote “From the LITA President” as well as the editorial (skipped in one issue). 1992 also saw the first and last LITA Yearbook, a 122-page paperback published as a supplement to the LITA Newsletter (I’d gotten really good at stretching a budget!) and essentially providing expanded coverage of LITA activities at the 1992 Annual Conference. This was part of the LITA25 celebration (for LITA’s first quarter century, although it was ISAD for the first part of that quarter-century). Around the same time, I also did the layout and desktop publishing for two paperback versions of LITA Presidents’ Programs (not my own)–Citizen Rights and Access to Electronic Information, the 1991 LITA President’s Program, and Thinking Robots, an Aware Internet, and Cyberpunk Librarians, the 1992 LITA President’s Program. I had a lot of LITA-related deadlines in 1992…
- Library Hi Tech–still doing “Trailing Edge,” but adding “Looking Back” articles in some issues. Between the two of them, three in 1992, six in 1993, five in 1994.
- Public-Access Computer Systems Review–two “Public-Access Provocations” pieces in 1992, two in 1993 (and one article), three in 1994.
I also prepared the paperback annual versions of PACS Review for LITA for 1991, 1992, 1993, and 1994; after Volume 5, the series ended (although the journal limped along a little longer). My tenure as LITA Newsletter editor also ended at the end of 1994–and the publication returned to much briefer issues, traditionally typeset, eventually being converted to electronic form and shortly after that disappearing entirely. It is with sadness as much as pride that I note that I was editor of LITA Newsletter for most of its life.
Quarterly (more or less)
- Library Hi Tech–”Trailing Edge,” one article per issue.
- Library Hi Tech News–”Trailing Edge Notes,” a new five-page section in this more-or-less-monthly (10 issues a year), but it began in March; there were nine five-page editions (I prepared the print masters using desktop publishing), always the last five pages of each issue.
- CD-ROM Professional–”CD-ROM Amateur,” a column in alternate issues of this 11x/year magazine, beginning in July: three columns in 1995.
- ONLINE--At this point, these were articles for this bimonthly (that is, six issues per year) magazine, not a column; four of them in 1995.
- Library Hi Tech–two “Trailing Edge” and two “Comp Lit” columns–oddly enough.
- Library Hi Tech News–ten “Trailing Edge Notes,” one per issue, still five pages, still the trailing edge of each issue.
- CD-ROM Professional–six “CD-ROM Amateur” articles, one in each odd-numbered issue.
- ONLINE–still articles, not a column, four during 1996.
- Library Hi Tech–this year saw two double issues, each of which had both a “Comp Lit” and a “Trailing Edge” article.
- Library Hi Tech News–the last year of “Trailing Edge Notes,” appearing in all 10 issues but growing to 8 pages starting in May 1997. It also lost its secure end-of-issue slot earlier in the year.
- ONLINE–four articles, all PC-related.
- Database–“CD-ROM Corner,” replacing the earlier “CD-ROM Amateur,” appearing in each issue of this six-times-a-year magazine.
Ah, the heck with it, let’s just list them all…
- Library Hi Tech–the two last installments of “Trailing Edge,” boiling down to “It’s Just a Tool: Fifteen Years of Personal Computing.” Also one “Comp Lit.”
- Library Hi Tech News–still in each of ten issues, but now as “Crawford’s Corner” rather than “Trailing Edge Notes”; grew again from eight to ten pages mid-year.
- Database–”CD-ROM Corner,” once in each bimonthly issue.
- Online–four articles, still technically not a named column.
- Library Hi Tech News–“Crawford’s Corner” in each of ten 1999 issues and each of ten 2000 issues.
- EContent and Database–the publication changed name in 1999 (you wondered what happened to Database?) and frequency in 2001. I had six “CD-ROM Corner” editions in 1999, continuing from the old magazine to the new, and six in 2000, ending with “Leaving the Corner.”
- ONLINE–after two standalone articles in early 199, I took over the “PC Monitor” column later in the year, with two columns in 1999 and three in 2000.
- American Libraries–not a column, not yet, but I had four articles published in 1999 and four more in 2000.
- Oh yes: There was this December 2000 thing called Cites & Insights
- EContent–the name changed to “disContent” and the magazine’s frequency changed to something like 10 or 11 issues per year. Ten “disContent” columns appeared in 2001.
- Online–three “PC Monitor” columns
- American Libraries–six articles, three of them with a running title (“The E-Files”)
- Cites & Insights–13 issues.
The high water mark, and possibly the point at which more people felt they’d read enough from this guy Crawford. (The high-water mark for speaking was 1992-2001, starting to decline in 2002 before the precipitous fall in 2005.)
- EContent–Twelve “disContent” columns in 2002, eleven in 2003, ten in 2004 (always one per issue)
- Online–Three “PC Monitor” columns each in 2002, 2003 and 2004.
- American Libraries–”The Crawford Files” began in January 2002 and appeared eleven times in 2002, eleven more in 2003, and ten in 2004.
- Cites & Insights–Fifteen issues in 2002, 14 in 2003, 14 in 2004.
- EContent–ten “disContent” columns in 2005, moving to alternate issues in 2006 (five columns).
- Online–Three “PC Monitor” columns in 2005, four in 2006
- Cites & Insights–14 issues in 2005, 14 in 2006.
I decided “PC Monitor” had run its course by the end of 2006. (American Libraries decided that “The Crawford Files” had run its course in 2004…)
- EContent–five “disContent” columns.
- Cites & Insights–13 issues.
- EContent–five “disContent” columns in 2008 and the last five in 2009.
- Online–a new column, “Crawford at Large,” appeared six times in 2008 six more in 2009.
- Cites & Insights–12 issues in 2008, 13 in 2009.
- Online–Six “Crawford at Large” columns in 2010 and the final half dozen in 2011. One article will appear in early 2012.
- Cites & Insights–12 issues in 2010, nine plus a one-sheet “special” in 2011.
And that’s it. I don’t see any outside columns on the horizon (although I’m open to suggestions). C&I is on hiatus, and I don’t see a regular schedule re-emerging for a while. After the next book deadline? Well, that’s an open question…
Hmm. At the very least, I’ve procrastinated away the afternoon or most of it. I’ll start on serious work for the book tomorrow. Maybe.