Recognizable Dates as Self-Imposed Deadlines

A few years ago, a colleague in Eastchester pointed out the July 4 submission date of an article they had just read. We thought it was a bold move for the author to have submitted a manuscript on a national holiday, in the summertime, when very few US academics are working.

But perhaps there was something more to the timing of this submission than the author being a workaholic or catching both inspiration and a block of free time on a holiday. Could July 4, more recognizable than most days on the calendar, have been a self-imposed deadline? After all, most academic writing lacks deadlines, which is why a lot of it doesn’t get done.

If, like me, you struggle with self-imposed deadlines, consider submitting your manuscripts on fixed holidays and recognizable days like January 1, February 14, April 1, May 5, July 4, October 31, and December 25. They feel like external deadlines. If these dates aren’t meaningful, pick fixed holidays and recognizable days that suit you.

Spreading the manuscript writing that lacks deadlines out over the year guarantees you’ll always be writing what matters most. Plus, if you are in a slow period with your active projects, you could be motivated to finish one of your stalled manuscripts because, for example, Cinco de Mayo is a couple weeks away. These fixed date submissions would be in addition to deadline driven submissions for conference papers, proposals, reports, manuscript revisions, and special issues.

Submissions through editorial management portals can take longer than you think, so upload the manuscript files, create a highlights list, suggest reviewers, etc. a day or two before the target date. Then, wake up on the target date, log in, and hit the Submit button. But don’t wait too late into the evening in the Americas to press the button. Servers in Europe and Asia may stamp the submission with server time, the following day, instead of client time.

I’ve done February 14 and July 4 submissions, but not February 29–recognizable for its quadrennial rarity. Leap Day is non-denominational and non-cultural, so we can all use this day for motivation. There’s still time to prepare manuscripts for February 29, 2020.

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