How do you manage your deadlines?

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Are you someone who has a hard time with deadlines? Here’s an example of how a fake deadline can help…

Many people have difficulty with deadlines. They do high-reward tasks, first, (such as answering their email) and procrastinate on the important but difficult-to-do jobs (such as planning for a sales call) that are actually more important.

Does this describe you? Or your company?

I believe the tendency to leave work until the very last minute is part of the human condition. But that doesn’t mean it has to be tolerated. Especially when there are some easy ways to work around it.

For example, I’ve always believed in fake deadlines. When I was an editor I tried to give my writers a deadline that was at least 24-hours in advance of when I actually needed their stories. In that way, even if they were a little bit late, it didn’t leave me with a problem.

From an organization I’m working for now, I’ve recently discovered an even more sophisticated version of the “fake deadline.”

This organization is facing a massive communications challenge. Part of my job is to help with the planning for it.

So, awhile ago we had to present our plan to an internal team of senior people. The presentation required rented AV equipment and included lunch, so we knew it was serious. We knocked ourselves out to produce something sensational and had a late night the day before the presentation.

When the big day arrived, however, I was surprised to see how few people attended. I had been told to expect about 40 and, in fact, there were about 10. Then KA-CHING, the penny dropped. I realized that we were being asked to do this presentation early so the CEO could assure himself all his ducks would be in a row for the day of the big announcement, many weeks away. My admiration for him increased dramatically.

Fake deadlines. They really work.

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