Use the Power of Deadlines

The best way to predict the future is to create it.
- Peter Drucker

Put your requests into a time frame. If there is no pressing time frame, make one up.

If you want a report from someone, finish your request by asking, "And may I have this by the end of our business day Thursday?"

Various dictionaries describe a deadline as a time by which something must be done; originally meaning "a line that does not move," and "a line around a military prison beyond which an escaping prisoner could be shot."

Literally, it is line over which the person or project becomes dead! Deadlines propel action. So when you want to get people into action, give them a deadline.

If you make a request without including a date or time, then you don't have anything that you can hold the other person accountable for. You have a "wished for" and "hoped for" action hanging out there in space with no time involved. People are only motivated when we use both space and time. The space-time continuum is a motivator's best friend.

Once, we were leisurely writing a book when the publisher called back to impose a month-away deadline to make the fall catalog for the big Christmas sales season. Then, all of a sudden, we swung into gear, writing and editing 20 hours a day, until we delivered the finished manuscript to our publisher. It turned out to be the best-written book we'd ever done.

Without a deadline, there is no goal, just a nebulous request that adds to the general confusion at work. you will be doing a person a favor by putting your request into a time frame. And if the time is too short, he or she can negotiate it. Let your people participate. It isn't a matter of who gets to set the deadline, it's a matter of having one. Either way, it is settled, clear, and complete.

Most managers don't do this. They have hundreds of unfulfilled requests floating around the workplace, because they aren't prioritized. Those requests keep getting put off.

Don't they?

Deadlines will fix all that.

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