There are two categories of people: those that you can count on and always respect a deadline and those from whom you need to follow their every step to make sure that they deliver what was promised.

Many times micro-management starts from here, and there were even cases where symptoms of nano-management were spotted.

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The first part of the word deadline it’s obviously DEAD and if you add the “line” you’d realize its importance. You’d better not fool around when it comes to respecting the dead (only good words for dead people).

It’s said that the origin of the word is tied to the line prisoners weren’t allowed to cross, or they risked to be shot.

If you make a habit of not respecting deadlines, sooner or later, good words will spread over you but it will be told about you as well, but they will be on … past tense.

Not respecting a deadline can turn against you and if it’s already a habit, it will affect your daily schedule, the relationship with subordinates (you didn’t think that holding on to promises is available only when looking up, it’s even more important when looking down), colleagues, superiors, it will impact your career, future promotion opportunities, etc.

Imagine that you attend your own wedding and guests start showing up.

At the last moment, you are facing the dramatic situation of not having enough plates, a situation caused by the fact that some people didn’t respect their deadlines.

Yes, I am talking about those heart shaped plates, your Baby asked for, which cost a lot of money, and obviously can be only found abroad. 🙂

After the expected anger and finally learn to appreciate the true meaning of “in-laws”, you can start having a tough conversation with the person in charge with the plates.

The man starts to explain why there are no plates for your wedding, from the global warming to the Plates God and from a supplier who made a wrong order to the transporter who didn’t wait suspended in the sky, especially for your plates parcel. He can be so convincing, that he almost believes part his own excuses.

Meanwhile, you have time to add to the prenuptial agreement that you fully agree that your beloved wife should not touch any plates until the end of your life; unless of course, it’s the frisbee plate which you are willing to catch with your teeth.

You resignedly get back to the man with the plates and ask a rhetorical question, accompanied by many silent wishes towards his relatives (either dead or alive): — May I serve the food your excuses?

It’s pretty much the same at work.

If something like this occurs during the process and prevents you from respecting the deadline, get the bull by the horns and communicate this to whom it may concern. First, tell the beneficiary. For example, something came up with those tacky heart-shaped plates and we cannot rely on them, but I have found something more classy — tablet shaped.

Happily, Ever After, remember?

And don’t even consider doing a sloppy job and say it looks good, and then face a wrongdoing. It happened to the best of us („The unrealistically optimistic launch schedule of Space Shuttle Challenger pursued by NASA had been criticized by the Rogers Commission as a possible contributing cause of the accident.”)

Let’s go over a few basic rules in respecting DEADlines:

  • first, you have to make sure that your task is clear. Don’t assume and stay away from funky scenarios;
  • based on the importance of your task you might have to re-assess priorities;
  • you’d better not lose sight (not vision) on whom you’d have to answer to, bear in mind the importance of that person. The higher they are, the quicker and professional you should be;
  • finish your task a week, a day or an hour before deadline. If for example, the deadline is next Friday, you should have everything ready by Thursday; this allows a quick “no pressure” revision. A lot of good things emerge from a clear mind;
  • if you don’t have a deadline, you must ask a date and time for expected delivery, this will help with planning. Most of the times we have the tendency to pile up things and the feedback to be more easy-going than expected;
  • quickly assess the needed resources and get back to the beneficiary. You can’t do this on the last day, to say for example that you needed two extra men for the project when you should’ve done this from the beginning;
  • if it’s a large project, communicate periodically the stage you reached, even no one asked you to;
  • in case you really can’t meet the deadline, state this as sooner as possible and also tell what you need to in order to timely deliver or ask for help;
  • share the activities in such manner that there is some time left for unforeseen events;
  • don’t promise to deliver more than was asked of you, but provide some alternative solutions to initial requests;
  • in case you cannot meet the deadline, legitimately ask for a new one, one that you’d be obliged to respect.

Next time you have to meet a deadline, think of a wedding with no plates.

Good Luck Succeeding!

Originally published at on April 5, 2017.