I once heard an amusing story about a company won the bid to create a new IT system for a Government Department. When the Company finished the job, they ran into an unexpected problem. The Government Department, having gotten used to Companies asking for extensions to project deadlines, had assumed this one wouldn’t be any different. As such, a team hadn’t been put together for the Company to hand over the project to.
Most important tasks come with a deadline. A deadline is supposed to be a do by date which if missed will invoke some form of penalty such as the late registration fees a student pays for failing to complete their Course registration on time. When your Manager gives you a deadline, you are expected to get the job done before that time. Lately though, it has become so common to ask for extensions that deadlines risk losing their purpose.
The Original definition of a Deadline was quite literal (Dead-Line). A deadline was a line drawn around a prison which prisoners were not expected to cross. Any prisoner who crossed the line would be shot immediately. While we can’t shoot people for missing deadlines at work, this little bit of historical trivia can be useful in driving home the importance of sticking to a deadline.
Deadlines are meant to provide motivation to finish on time. A task without a deadline is more likely to keep getting pushed forward. Afterall, if the task really is important, there would have been some penalty for not completing it. Productive people develop the habit of setting their own deadlines to tasks. Even if an official deadline has not been set, they set their own finish by date and time.
Unfortunately, one of the difficulties faced by people who complete tasks on time is negative feedback from colleagues. A diligent coworker may actually be labelled as being too stiff. You must learn to ignore this feedback. When you make a commitment to completing tasks on time, you are casting a vote for the kind of people you’d like to be: A person who has a plan and follows through.