I discussed with one guy about project work and he brought an interesting point. He said he had a project that would take about a year to accomplish. In the beginning of the project he was bit worried that there didn’t seem to be specific dates set at all. This was bit stressful since he knew that there was one big deadline set (the one year timeline), but no deadlines for smaller goals or milestones. He wasn’t sure what to focus on next.
He discussed this with his project clients and finally at some point they managed to set a few milestone deadlines. Just merely attaching a specific date to an upcoming meeting was relief for this guy. He said it made his work more clear. Now he didn’t need to stumble forward, but he could organize his work so that he would first go towards the first deadline. After that he’d know when the second deadline and what it was all about. It brought clarity to set ‘what’ the next milestone is about and ‘when’ it is supposed to occur.
This isn’t always possible to do: deadlines can be missed, features might not make it to the milestone, something unexpected occurs, fixing one bug creates four new bugs…. anything can happen.
Even though deadlines can be tricky one, it doesn’t mean one shouldn’t use them. Deadlines can inspire people to meet the deadline. They can bring clarity. They can be helpful. Check out some famous quotes about deadlines, perhaps they’ll inspire you to think about the importance of deadlines:
“A deadline is negative inspiration. Still, it’s better than no inspiration at all.”
-Rita Mae Brown
“They didn’t want it good, they wanted it Wednesday.”
“The ultimate inspiration is the deadline.”
And one of my personal favorites…
“I’ll need daily status reports on why you’re so behind.”
- Dilbert’s Boss
Deadlines aren’t necessary evil. It depends how you set them.