Remember your first experiences with deadlines in elementary school?
You had an assignment due on a certain date. The due date might have been a week or more after you received the assignment.
If you were like most people, you didn’t immediately start working on the assignment. You had “more important” things to do, like play with your friends. Relationships are the most important thing, right?
Then the due date became close. Maybe the next day! “Oh, my goodness! I don’t want to fail this assignment!”
So you frantically get to work to finish the assignment.
The students who eventually get the best grades in the class eventually become more emotionally mature and realize they will do a much better job on assignments with due dates when they start working on them well in advance of the due dates. The majority of students continue to focus their efforts for the last few days before the due dates.
We should recognize and accept this tendency in human behavior in ourselves and others.
Adults continue to tend to delay getting work assignments done until a deadline. Without deadlines, items in the “pending” file will continue to “pend.”
How often have you finished preparing your income tax returns very close to April 15 or an extended due date (October 17, 2022 for 2021 individual income tax returns)?
Realistically, most of us are juggling multiple assignments. Employees should ask their manager or employer to help prioritize their assignments and agree to realistic deadlines. Service providers and their clients should also agree on deadlines for assignments
Managerial scientists recognized the procrastination tendency in human behavior, and developed models to break down major projects (like building a rocket to take astronauts to the moon) into milestones or subgoals (like building an engine to safely thrust the rocket into space) required to accomplish them. Examples are PERT (Program Evaluation and Review Technique) Charts and Gantt (named for the inventor, Henry Lawrence Gantt) Charts to diagram the steps required to accomplish a project, estimate the time required, and monitor progress in accomplishing the project.
For most of us, what is important is to recognize the value of deadlines for getting things done and to set them for ourselves and for others (including subcontractors) who work with us.
Napoleon Hill said, “A goal is a dream with a deadline.” Without the deadline, the dream will probably just remain a dream.