It’s 5.00pm on a Tuesday evening and I get called into my boss, Pat Lucey’s office. Not good. I’m already thinking I need to be gone out of the office by 5.30pm at the latest to collect my kids at 5.45pm. Nobody gets out of Pat’s office quickly.
Pat has a request for me to write a blog for the Aspira website. I start sobbing (internally). Not alone is writing not my forte, but he wants me to develop an outline for it in the next 15 minutes (louder sobs). He asks me what I want to write about and the first thing that comes into my head is ‘Deadlines’.
As a professional with young kids and a demanding job I have realized recently that my life is either being ruled or ruined by deadlines. The two definitions of a deadline are “the latest time or date by which something should be completed” and “a line drawn around a prison beyond which prisoners were liable to be shot”. I think that they might both apply to my life.
In a typical week I need to complete the school run by a deadline, get to work by a deadline, meet lots of deadlines during the week, pick up kids at various deadlines and deliver them to their many after-school activities. Then start again the next day. This is a very familiar routine to many of you. On weekends the deadlines change to revolve around sports games. If a deadline is missed there can be carnage. If a deadline is hit then it’s just taken for granted and it’s on to the next one… So, do we ever stop to ask if all those deadlines are useful?
Let me lay out my position from the start: I think that overall, deadlines are useful – they give me structure to my day/week /year and help me prioritise which tasks need to be done now, and which can be deferred. For people who tend to procrastinate, deadlines can ensure that important things don’t fall between the cracks – they ensure something will get done.
But on the flip side they can take over your life and you can be left with no free time if you are constantly running from one deadline to the next. There are Four Tips I can offer that help me manage my deadlines:
- Set achievable deadlines, don’t let optimism take over when setting a completion date for a task. If the deadline will only be achieved if everything goes perfectly to plan, well guess what – you will be in trouble because nothing ever goes perfectly. Plan some contingency.
- Don’t overcommit, don’t try to be a hero and take on too many overlapping tasks. Finally, let’s stop and think before you set ourselves another deadline. Think through an average day and you will see many of the deadlines we set are self-imposed deadlines. Remember that help is usually available if you need it!
- Don’t overstress if you miss an occasional deadline – remember that we are here for a ‘good time, not a long time’ so don’t beat yourself up as it’s never the end of the world if a deadline is missed. In fact, if you do miss one, use it as an excuse to remind everyone what an unusual event that is because you are such a dependable person! .
- Recognize your achievement of meeting deadlines (even if nobody else does) and reward yourself for consistently delivering on time. Whether it is delivering kids to their classes on time or delivering a major project for Aspira on time – they are both about meeting your commitments and keeping your stakeholders happy!
Deadlines are important and a Project Manager can help deliver your deadlines on time. Contact us today to discuss https://aspira.ie/project-resourcing
Footnote: I left Pat’s office at 5:30pm that Tuesday and collected my kids on time. Pat insisted I wrote that bit in 😊
Author: Emma Hayes, HR Business Partner, Aspira