Today, we want to focus on how you can manage deadlines. We start from the fact that everyone struggles with deadlines, from a hypothesis that no one finds it easy to fulfill all deadlines, from the principle that meeting all deadlines is hard work and calls for a lot of discipline. We also offer benefits that come to those who build a dependable reputation through keeping deadlines.
People who keep deadlines earn the trust of many people. Certainly, they impress their bosses, superiors and all people that matter in their lives. Those who keep deadlines are often entrusted with some of the most critical tasks because they have the reputation of always fulfilling what they are entrusted with. In the process, they gain visibility and credibility, and they gradually rise in whatever they do. On the flip side, those who always break deadlines, no matter how good they might intrinsically be, fail to realise their true potential because big projects are always given to the deadline-faithful and dependable people. All key tasks are assigned to those who can be trusted with dates and times. The choice, therefore, is crystal clear – keeping deadlines is the way to go.
Now, what should you do to keep deadlines, all the time? First, make sure that in the first place, the deadline is practical. Never commit to a deadline that you already know from the offset that you cannot meet. Ask for a more practical deadline upfront but make a case for the proposal otherwise you will risk being perceived to be laid back or not as driven. Alternatively, if the deadline is tight but you can achieve it under certain conditions, then negotiate for help with those conditions. It may be that the tight deadline can still be fulfilled with more people in the team, or more financial resources, or access to influence of certain contacts and so. Negotiate for these conditions upfront and ask for help immediately.
Secondly, break your project or task into small chunks and give each one of them ‘sub-deadlines’. The subtasks that will be dealt with early on the timeline should be given tighter timescales than those towards the end. This approach helps in instances where you are lagging behind schedule and need more time towards the end to complete subtasks that you failed to accomplish early into the project. Make sure that you track and monitor your actual progress against the planned schedule.
The third technique you can use to ensure that you keep your deadlines is flexibility. For instance, you might be a person that works best late at night during times when you are under pressure. But one night before your deadline, you might be disturbed for example by exhaustion arising from a long trip or indeed disturbed by visitation of unexpected guests at home. Flexibility here is handy, because in such circumstances, you can easily choose to go to bed earlier than normal and then wake up much earlier than usual and then go on to complete your task in the early hours of the next day, well in time for the deadline.
In rare circumstances when keeping the deadline is completely impossible, negotiate for an extension well in advance of the actual deadline, to avoid inconvenience and embarrassment.
Above all, keeping deadlines and being dependable is about commitment. How much do you value deadlines?
You will not be great at deadlines unless you believe in deadlines. You will not be a star at deadlines if when you break the deadline, you do not feel bad and you do not care about the inconvenience caused on others and damage it has on your reputation and image.
Keep deadlines. Start with personal commitment and conviction about the importance of deadlines. If you do this all the time, you will surely build a dependable reputation to many people that regularly come into contact and work with you. Good luck!