Why are deadlines important?

Deadlines sandtimer

Other than the fact you will probably annoy your boss or let someone else down, deadlines are set across the business world to help people prioritise.

Deadlines can be anything from getting your holiday requests in at least 2 weeks in advance, through to getting that important parcel to the post office before 5pm. Some deadlines are not 100% set in stone but others are.

The word deadline has history back to 1860s prison days where prisoners would be shot if they crossed the ‘dead-line’ around the prison. In modern day deadlines are not quite so life-threatening, but they also shouldn’t be ignored.

Having clear and achievable deadlines means you can complete the most important and time-sensitive work first. This makes you more productive and ensures that other members of your team and those relying on you have exactly what they need to hit their own deadlines.

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Being given a deadline: helps you prioritise your workload and know which tasks are the most time sensitive.

Giving a deadline: helps you get what you need from other people with enough time to meet your own deadlines.

When you don’t work to a deadline you often continue putting a project off until the last minute and sometimes it never gets done at all. Often the tasks that get put off the most are the ones that could be saving you the most time in the long run.

Some tasks get rushed so they’re finished in time and I’m sure we’re all guilty of putting off tasks that don’t have a deadline, I know I am.

If someone has asked you to complete a task or provide some information by a deadline and they are relying on you, it can often be embarrassing when they have to chase you. And not just for them. If you miss a deadline you can miss out on the chance of taking part in something great and you could stress out the person who set it. On the flip side, you shouldn’t make promises you can’t keep.

If you know you definitely can’t hit a deadline you have a few options.

  • Explain to the person giving you a deadline that you can’t feasibly make the cut-off – they might be able to extend the deadline
  • Check what resources you have already – could you just tweak a piece of work that already exists?
  • Ask a colleague to help out
  • Speak to your boss and see if there are any other ways the work can get completed
  • Commission an external company or freelancer to do the work
  • Decline the opportunity if it doesn’t warrant the extra resources

With deadlines hitting you from left, right and centre, it can be daunting trying to keep up. But with a little determination and careful planning, deadlines can help you succeed.

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