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Are You Driven by Deadlines or Do They Freak You Out?

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Are You Driven by Deadlines or Do They Freak You Out?

Deadlines and procrastination don’t go well together, are you driven by deadlines or do they freak you out?

How do you handle deadlines? Does your business revolve around them or do you freak out when you’ve got a finishing date coming up?

There are different types of deadlines. There are external and internal deadlines, as well as self-imposed due dates. And then there’s I’m going away deadlines. Let’s have a look at each of these.

External Deadlines.

These are deadlines that are out of your control. From a financial perspective, these include ATO cut off points, superannuation payment finishing times, rent and payroll due dates. But external deadlines may be deadlines dictated by your clients whether they are contractual or not. 

For example, milestones in larger contracts are external deadlines. So too are phone calls from clients requiring services completed by a specific date. For example, I’ve just imposed external deadlines on my book publisher. I need to have my next book completed and in my hands for an event on a specific date. 

Internal Deadlines.

These are deadlines that are internal to your business. It could be that specific tasks need to be completed within x days, or by a specific date in the month. 

For example, I used to provide a 6 week turnaround on year end work to my clients, but internally we were working on a 4 week deadline.

Another financial example is having the monthly data entry completed and reconciled by x days after the end of the month. This enables the preparation of monthly management reports. Within that are deadlines for when the bookkeeper has to complete her work, the office manager to review and the owner to check over. All this before I am given the all clear to prepare the reports.

Self-Imposed Deadlines.

These deadlines are the ones least likely to be kept. These are the ones where you decide to be driven by deadlines by yourself.

You may share these deadlines with your colleagues or you may keep them to yourself. It is always better to share as your colleagues will help to keep you on track and hold you accountable.

Examples include wanting to lose a specific amount of weight by a specific date. They could also be, as I just did, a deadline for writing the manuscript for my next book.

How To Handle Deadlines.

Deadlines are handled either with steady work toward the goal, leaving it to the last minute or some variation in the middle.

When you’re about to go on holidays, do you rush around madly trying to get everything done in the few days or week before the trip? And then, rush around madly again for the first week when you’re back to get on top of everything that happened while you were away? 

Do you react the same way for other deadlines as you do for the holidays? 

I’ve spent my working life working with external time limits. These have been mostly ATO, but also client dictated timelines (particularly if they need financial statements and tax returns to provide to the bank for a loan).

Being driven by deadlines have been a big part of my life. While I used to, mostly, get away with doing assignments for school and university at the last minute, it isn’t always so easy in the business world. I realised that what I used to do was pull all-nighters to do assignments for subjects that didn’t interest me, but I’d get the assignments done much earlier when I was interested in the subject. 

And I see this same procrastination in the financial aspects of business with my clients. For a super cool look at procrastination, check out the awesome Ted talk by Tim Urban.

Being driven by deadlines means making them work for you.

I have discussions time and time again about the necessity for information to be prepared. There are some on a monthly basis allowing time for me to do my review. And others where information needs to be allocated differently, but neither bore any real results.

In both cases, the people concerned left it until the very last minute every time. This caused a flow on effect that required other people to be doing things at the last minute because that financial data wasn’t available.

I get that we do put off that which we don’t want to do, perhaps we should apply my mothers’ advice. She used to give it to me when faced with food on my plate that I didn’t want to eat. She’d tell me to eat the food I didn’t like first. I could then enjoy the food I did like and finish with the good flavours in my mouth. 

Next time you’re faced with a deadline or series of them, consider doing the work you like least, first and get it out of the way. Then you can enjoy doing the work you love and not have to worry about that other not-so-nice deadline.

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