Deadlines and VP-ellipsis

I hate missing deadlines. Genuinely hate it. (So no, I don't love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.) And there was a time, early on in my academic career, that I didn't miss a single one: reviews were always on time, administration was filed punctually, feedback was given when feedback was due. Over time, however, two things started happening. First of all, I noticed that in our field meeting deadlines is the exception rather than the rule, and by quite a large margin too. Especially when I became editor (first of a yearbook, later of a journal), a considerable portion of my time was spent sending out reminders about deadlines gone by. What's more, no one really seemed to mind or think this was abnormal. Sure, there were always excuses and explanations and occasionally even pre-deadline requests for deadline extensions, but at the end of the day, missing deadlines seemed to be as common and generally accepted a practice as meeting them. Now, I know one shouldn't jump off a cliff just because one's colleagues are doing so, but it sure as hell alleviated the sense of guilt I felt when I missed my first deadline.

Secondly, there was an increase in workload, a considerable one. Looking back, there is simply no comparison between the workload I had as a PhD-student or starting professor (I was lucky enough to skip the postdoc-stage) and that of today, almost ten years in. I realize that some of that increase is self-inflicted, but most of it is due to increased responsibilities, adaptations to ever-evolving work environments, and a change in climate (academia in Europe has become a lot more competitive  in a fairly short time span). When faced with huge amounts of work, one reaches a point where it simply becomes impossible to meet all deadlines. And so you start missing them: first by a couple of days, then a week, and before you know it, being two or three weeks late for a deadline feels pretty normal.

There is one good thing about missing deadlines, though, and that's the feeling you get when you finally manage to do the thing you were supposed to do ages ago. Perversely, the longer past the deadline, the better that feeling becomes. And so yesterday, 144 days (or 12441600 seconds as it turns out) after the deadline of April 1, I felt great when I was finally able to deliver my chapter on VP-ellipsis for the upcoming second edition of the Blackwell Companion to Syntax. It's still a little rough round the edges (comments are most welcome) and will certainly need revisions in a later stage, but at this point I just want to enjoy the fact that my to do-list now has one less missed deadline.