I’ve come across quite a few people in my day who try to add structure to their lives with the aid of deadlines. They set a point in time when this or that task has to be done. There might not be an actual need for the task to be finished right then, but these people figure that with a deadline attached, it will get done. In my mind this is a road towards ruin. That destructive feeling of failure and shame that some experience when they fail to meet their own arbitrary deadlines make them paralyzed and unproductive, and a downward spiral commences.
And then there’s the horror of people who try to run projects this way.
Do yourself a favor and examine all deadlines placed before you and, if nothing else, at least make yourself aware of what dependencies and consequences exist attached to the deadlines. What will happen if a deadline is not met? Most of us have enough distance to understand that it will not mean the end of the world, and in most cases no one will die. But maybe someone’s life or work will suffer because of your failure to meet a time constraint? And perhaps someone will lose a whole lot of money due to delays? Maybe so.
But I have found that many deadlines are there for no reason whatsoever. Sure, managers worry about showing progress but all deadlines need to be examined in a context, and as a team member, you have the right to request an outline of this context from your manager. I strongly suggest you take it on yourself to make sure you understand the circumstances surrounding any deadlines that are enforced upon you.
And as a manager, be careful when playing the deadline card. Save this for the real deadlines, those that matter. If you do, you can create a better work environment. Trust will be built. Quality will increase. Speed will follow.
We all have stuff we need to do and there’s plenty of actual stress to handle. No need to add any of the artificial kind. You dig?