Deadlines

deadlines-1p2cpw7It has been said, “if it wasn’t for deadlines nothing would ever get done”. The truth behind deadlines is that they do in fact provide a needed structure that creates a sense of urgency! Assigning a deadline to a task or a goal adds a certain sense of importance and fuels the resolve to get it done!

Just uttering the term deadline creates a certain ominous air. Historically the deadline was a line drawn in the sand around a prison. Prisoners were liable to be shot if they crossed that line. They dared not get anywhere close to that line but now ironically, it is a line that we all race towards and take great pride in meeting. The deadline used to relate to life and death and now it relates to a race for time. This certainly speaks to the societal value that time has acquired.

Deadlines are all around us. Some may be self imposed – created as a result of our goal setting process. Others may be externally enforced – closing dates, work completion targets. Regardless of whether they are personal or work related deadlines need to be respected and we need to develop healthy relationship with them. They need to be taken seriously as your reputation is built on them. Every deadline you miss erodes trust and your credibility with others as well as with yourself.

Deadlines are all around us. Some may be self imposed – created as a result of our goal setting process. Others may be externally enforced – closing dates, work completion targets. Regardless of whether they are personal or work related deadlines need to be respected and we need to develop healthy relationship with them. They need to be taken seriously as your reputation is built on them. Every deadline you miss erodes trust and your credibility with others as well as with yourself.

To begin with, a deadline needs to be realistic and achievable. After all we have to manage within the laws of man and nature! Lets explore the following three laws that are relevant to deadlines.

Parkinson’s Law: Work expands in order to fill the time allocated for its completion. If you feel you have plenty of time to complete a task it will take up the entire time you allowed yourself for the task. If you feel you have less time, you will not dilly-dally and will apply a sense of urgency to getting the work. Important to set deadlines that don’t contain too much buffer time as Parkinson’s Law will come into affect and this will prove to be counter-productive.

Paretos Law: 80/20 Rule, 20 % of the work (the first 10% and the last 10%) consume 80% of your time and resources. This helps to explain why during last stretch of time as the deadline approaches it always feels like you are spending more of your time and effort on the task at hand.

Murphys Law: If anything that can possibly go wrong, it does. When setting deadlines keep Murphy in mind and leave enough wiggle room for Murphy. This will help you to adjust and course correct when things don’t go according to plan.

To make sure you don’t get off the rails and miss a deadline – make a note of the date. To stay on track, add the details of the deadline to all your to do lists, reminders, day-timers, everywhere were you will see it and be reminded of it. This will help to subliminally integrate and engrain the deadline into your psyche and it will become a call to action to keep you on schedule to meet the deadline! This way they won’t be able to sneak up on you. Besides if you don’t keep a list of your upcoming deadlines you how will you make sure you don’t miss them?

Once you have your deadline date, work backwards to identify all the related tasks. Schedule the work around the deadline making sure to prioritize the tasks according to what needs to be done in the short term and what can wait. Understand both the level of urgency associated with the work and the effort required to complete the task and schedule the work accordingly.

helps to take the stress away from deadlines. The key to not loosing sleep or to isolating yourself as a result of creeping deadlines rests in scheduling your tasks! Meeting deadlines consistently helps to establish your credibility. When you deliver your work on time, you will be seen as being reliable and trustworthy. Make sure there is mutual agreement on the deadline to start with though and don’t underestimate time limits.

Scheduling the work helps to take the stress away from deadlines. The key to not loosing sleep or to isolating yourself as a result of creeping deadlines rests in scheduling your tasks! Meeting deadlines consistently helps to establish your credibility. When you deliver your work on time, you will be seen as being reliable and trustworthy. Make sure there is mutual agreement on the deadline to start with though and don’t underestimate time limits.

Now you are ready to roll up your sleeves and do the work – get it done! Nothing beats the satisfaction of meeting a deadline! To do what it takes sometimes means delegating the work to someone else, asking for help or simply pushing through the resistance and procrastination. Recognize your productivity patterns and use these to maximize your output. If you find you are not being effective at getting the tasks completed, its time to get creative or take a break and come back refreshed with renewed determination.

If you can’t meet a deadline make sure to be honest to yourself and others. This builds trust as no one likes to be blind sided with surprises or work not being done on time. If you know ahead of time that the deadline will not be met, things can be put in motion to help manage expectations and to mitigate the effect of the delay. Perhaps an extension can be negotiated or more resources can be added to lend a hand. But remember if a casserole takes 30 minutes at 350’ to bake – we can’t expect that it will be ready 10 minutes after it goes in the oven!

Lastly the best part of a deadline is the euphoria of meeting it!! Before you rush off to the next deadline, take the time to revel and make sure to celebrate! Give praise where praise is due to those that helped you to achieve the deadline. Paying tribute to your deadline co-conspirators helps to rally the troops for the next round.

 

Deadline Double Haiku

The deadline waits up ahead

Will you fall short missing the mark

Or shoot ahead full speed

Its all about how you

Embrace the challenge and task at hand

Armed with persistence and imagination

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