Month: February 2014

The Illusion of Deadlines

“Stop the complaining, strap on a helmet and start shooting. Its game time baby and I want you to storm through work like its D-Day at Normandy”. Sound familiar? Probably not, cause I just made that up(after some tinkering of Ari Gold). But I’m trying to capture the messages that we receive when we are working on a tight deadline.

I’m certain almost everyone has suffered the predicament of burning the candle at both ends due to certain deadlines. The looming sword of Damocles has evoked several different responses from different people. Some have gone on to thrive under the pressure of a deadline and deliver, somehow have been indifferent and some other have packed it in and called it a day as they have cracked under the pressure. I believe it is wrong to criticize someone based on how they react in that situation, it varies person to person. There are numerous antecedents that go into kneading someone to become the person they are in a pressure cook situation; and a lot of these were out of their hands. Not to say someone cannot train themselves to handle pressure, but that isn’t the objective of this blog. I’m more interested in knowing the determinant of this ‘deadline’ itself. Is a deadline really a deadline? Or can it be extended by a day or two?

I’ve had the opportunity(misfortune) to have worked with people who harped on deadlines so much that it pretty much became given that it would be extended by a day or two. Deadlines lost the respect it had. I had this notion that deadlines were fictitious time frames given to try to get solutions like a bat out of hell. I’ve also noticed that in most cases, it holds true. Diligent conversations of understanding what your client/boss wants and explaining your facet of saga will grant you and your team a couple of extra days. So why does everybody still impose this zero hour?


I’ve tried a hands-off approach at implementing this thought process myself but I have had some fascinating results. More often that not people tend to lose sight of the objective when there isn’t a time frame in mind. Procrastination becomes an accepted quirk rather than a disinclination. People do not understand the importance of the milestone being reached and fret too much about the journey, debating over issues that would have never cropped up if they were pressed for time. As footballers say, sometimes too much time can end up confusing you.


Val Kilmer said “Without deadlines and restrictions I just tend to become preoccupied with other things”. And it is a quote the strongly rings true with me and a lot of other people. Deadlines are not meant to be the gong that signifies the end, but just a gentle reminder for people to adhere to it and try to not boil over it too much. Because beyond a point it becomes an opportunity lost and the work simply not completed.


Deadlines refine the mind. They remove variables like exotic materials and processes that take too long. The closer the deadline, the more likely you’ll start thinking waaay outside the box.