10 reasons unrealistic deadlines equal crap product

That project was due 45 minutes ago. Friday at 5. Don't ask me why it's due then. I have no idea. (Image credit: RachelPinksArt.wordpress.com)


Remember demerits? When we screwed up in high school, we got a demerit. Get enough demerits and you get a detention. Demerits were the evolution of a check mark next to your name on the board when you were five.

Whoever invented the Friday at 5 p.m. deadline should get a demerit. Actually, anyone who uses gives that deadline should get a demerit. The person who invented it should get a detention or worse. No one ever starts reviewing those projects at 5 p.m. on a Friday and few ever look at them over the weekend. So why were they do Friday at 5? Why?

Unrealistic, ridiculous deadlines like “Friday at 5″ are hurting employee morale and quality of work product across the country. We live in a fast-paced society, but sometimes we try to move too fast. Rewarding speed without reason usually leads to…well…crap. Here’s 10 reasons why:

1. No one does their best work when rushed. I’ve heard a lot of people say they thrive under pressure. Not true. They may have figured out how to deal with pressure. But they don’t thrive under it.

2. Strategic thinking has to be critical thinking. When you sell ideas, you get paid for your brain power. And we can’t fully wrap our heads around a brand, it’s audiences, it’s objectives and barriers and meet a 48-hour-or-less deadline. Not possible.

3. “Need that by eod” is a deadline given to feed a power trip. Ever been asked for something by end of day, only to not hear about it for more than a week? But when it was due eod, meeting that deadline was crucial. People who give an eod deadline are almost always moving too fast themselves and not thinking about when they really need the work done by.

4. No one respects arbitrary deadlines or people who give them. If you give a deadline and then don’t provide feedback on that work for several days, you just lost my respect. If you give me a tight deadline and therefore deny me the time to do my best work without explaining why, you just lost my respect.

5. People have other things going on. This may sound extremely simple, but you never give a deadline to someone who has an empty plate. So you pile on a second helping of mashed potatoes and tell them they need to be done eating in the next five minutes. The person may finish eating, but he/she isn’t going to like the food and will likely feel sick.

6. No one asks why. Have you ever questioned a deadline or had someone question your deadline? For some reason, we’re afraid to do this.

7. Expectations are never discussed. One of the biggest mistakes new bosses and leaders make is to come in and just start dropping random deadlines without explaining expectations. At the same time, we don’t always do a good enough job explaining how much time it takes to a do a project right.

8. Doers just do. The best consultants are strategic counselors, not just doers. Most likely, you are being paid because of the creativity and brainpower you bring to the table. So use those smarts when someone asks you to climb Mt. Everest in 10 minutes. Don’t just start climbing as fast as you can.

9. Getting answers to questions takes time. When was the last time you did a project without answering any questions? No offense, but I bet your end product sucked. Questions are what eventually lead us to the reason for the project and why their might be an unrealistic deadline in the first place. Questions often lead to a different problem to solve than the one with which we started.

10. The less time I spend on something, the less I care. Makes sense when you think about it. When we have time to invest in a project, we buy into it. It becomes a part of us. We are invested in the end result. When a project has to be done yesterday, I just want to get it done. Off my plate. End of story.

Not to preach from the sopabox, but how about we make an effort to stop with the BS deadlines going forward. Because really, who wants to go around creating a bunch of crappy work?

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NoMeatballs As J Peterman says: i need a full report and i assume I need it immediately http://t.co/MDeLhp0v arbitrary deadlines suck..


NoMeatballs psst jgoldsborough wrote that post. if I could only do 1% of that type of writing! http://t.co/CzWtJRMo


keithprivette jgoldsborough cross crossing my #ff wires. Fail on me. It has clearly been a long, long week.


RT x 1,000 jgoldsborough New post: 10 reasons unrealistic deadlines equal a crap product! http://t.co/QzCGydbv #pr20chat