This week I’m 50 (well not 50 as much as 8 with 42 years experience, most of it forgotten). Which started me thinking about how we should treat deadlines like birthdays.
No, not having only one per year, but having planned one being determined to make it happen.
One year my son wanted to have his birthday party at one of those laser shoot-em-up venues, where he and his friends could run around like loonies shooting at each other with rifles that tagged each other with lasers. The nearest venue was about twenty miles away, but that wasn’t a problem as we had transport. So the party was booked and invitations were sent out. Every invite was answered in the positive. Everyone wanted to come and were looking forward to it enormously.
Three days before the party our car gave out a loud grinding noise and suddenly there was no power to the wheels. After getting it to a garage it was confirmed the car needed a new gearbox, which was going to take about three days to source and fit. Never mind, plan B was to use a friend’s car to get to the party.
The next day the friend picked my son up from school and brought him home. After a quick chat to confirm the arrangements for using her car she left. Within minutes she was at the front door with a sheepish grin. Her car wouldn’t start. An hour later the mechanic from the breakdown service announced that the fuel pump was broken.
So then we were on to plan C! We hired a car for the weekend, got there on the day and the party was a success.
So what can we learn from this? To avoid certain makes of car? Maybe. Or that sometimes you’ll pull out as many stops as necessary to make something happen. The fact is having decided to have the party and invited people to it there was no way it wasn’t happening.
Notice that our determination was increased because people were expecting the party to take place. Announcing something to people who’s opinion matters to you is a powerful motivator.
So perhaps we should approach business deadlines like birthdays. Not so much because we should celebrate when they’ve been reached successfully, but because once they are set they should be kept to no matter what.
However, you also need to remember to be kind to yourself. Don’t overload yourself with deadlines. In the past I have set 3 targets per week or just one. It’s important to consider what you can achieve in a week. That’s why you should record how long it takes to complete tasks. If you do them again you’ll have a better estimate of the time required to complete them and a better idea of what you can achieve in a week.