Why Are Deadlines Useful?

Deadline: a word many dread and even avoid. They can easily bring anxiety, stress, and tension to any interaction. The word even has “dead” in it!

How empowering can a deadline really be?

Let’s first sort out what a deadline is before we give ourselves permission to cringe.

Deadline (n): the time by which something must be finished or submitted [thank you dictionary.com]

So in order for a deadline to be effective, there must be 1) a specific task or project to complete and 2) a definite time to complete it by. If there’s no specific task and no specific time, there’s no deadline.

Deadlines are the foundation of every project. You can’t build a house without coordinating the deadlines of all parties involved. Setting those expectations and making them known enables the parties to allocate their resources efficiently. Of course, this principle applies to any project where people work together and need to be counted on to produce tangible results. Deadlines are just the vehicle to make the coordination work.

The risk in setting deadlines is to dismiss them as being unimportant, or to avoid setting them in the first place.

In our next post, we’ll discuss where these risks come from and how you can overcome them.

In the meantime, let us know: what deadlines are you resisting?

This post is the first in a three-part series on deadlines. The other two articles are “How to Overcome Deadline Sabotage” and “Deadline Damage Control (Or, Why Hope Had to Die)“.