Deadlines and Why We Need Them

September 14, 2016

Let’s face it, nothing beats progress like a deadline, and deadlines apply to most aspects of your life. RSVP on the bottom of the invitation, the expiration date on the milk (essentially a deadline), and most importantly projects with multiple collaborators.
Often times, it takes several pieces to come together before a project is complete, and without deadlines, some of those pieces will stay in limbo indefinitely. Maybe  you’re a perfectionist, so you’ve finished 95% of the content you were supposed to write, but it’s just not 100% up to your standards, so it gets put off and put off and put off…deadlines force you to confront the hard truth that at a certain point, you have to complete your project.

So why are deadlines so important?

  • Priority Seating – Deadlines assist you in prioritizing your workload, ensuring you have adequate time for all your projects, and can put less urgent projects on the back burner.
  • Complete Consideration  – deadlines help you clearly communicate within your organization and ensure that expectations are met with your clients. If you have a full plate for the next two weeks and a new urgent project is dropped in your lap one of two things is going to happen. That new project will be pushed back until your workload lessens, or the other projects all get delayed to make room for the new project in your schedule.
  • Motivation – Some of us work better under pressure, but all of us are pushed by deadlines. Without deadlines creeping up we’d be tempted to “clock out” at the end of the day and start again tomorrow. Sometimes you just have to put your head down and power through in order to get a project completed by the deadline, and in these times some of us discover our greatest potential.

It’s important to note that while deadlines are motivating, this can be fleeting if you have improperly planned your time needed for a project. Be sure to have as much information, and content as you need to complete the project to avoid what Psychologists refer to as “planning fallacy,” which is the underestimation of how long a specific task will take.

Helpful tips:

  • Internal Deadlines – Finish the project ahead of the time, and review it within your department or with your supervisor. Worst case scenario, you’re finished the project early. Better case, you revise your own work and deliver a better end product.
  • Rewards/Punishments – This would require a lot of dedication to the job, but you could always reward yourself with something small (Starbucks) for meeting an internal deadline you’ve set for yourself. If you miss the internal deadline, you’re not allowed to do something you enjoy, ex: snack machine, soda, etc.
  • Teamwork – Get co-workers involved in your deadlines. Have a friend you work with? Even if they’re not in your department, make them aware of your workload. This will both cut down on downtime socializing eating into company time, and will hopefully encourage them to hold you accountable to your deadlines.
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