Why you need fake deadlines

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Have you ever had to work with someone who can’t manage to meet his or her deadlines? I think you’re going to find my post today very useful….

I don’t miss deadlines. I grew up in the newspaper business (my parents owned a weekly newspaper) and deadlines must be coded into my DNA.

But many writers, including some people I like to hire, are terrible with deadlines. I have a solution for this problem. It’s called the fake deadline.

Whenever I hire someone I don’t know or someone who has a deadline problem, I tell that person the deadline is about four to seven days before I actually need the work. Yes, this is a lie. But it’s a friendly one. It means that I won’t become snarly with them if they’re late (which can sometimes happen through no fault of their own.)

In planning projects it’s always wise to allow the sort of “cushion” time for the unexpected: a boss who can’t finish his letter-to-employees in time, a graphic artist who backs out at the last minute and needs to be replaced, a printing shop that has a crucial piece of equipment fail. Writers need this cushion time more than most. Sources can be unavailable or disappear. Key facts can be hard to uncover and require time-consuming research. As well, there’s the procrastination habit that undoes many freelance writers.

Until you find a freelancer who always delivers on time, do yourself a favour. Give your writers a fake deadline and see how much easier it makes your working life.

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