In a prior post, we talked about the importance of checking your work before submitting it. A second critical component of a work product is really about when you deliver it – it’s about your reliability. Very few people hit every deadline every time. However, how you’ve performed in the past will impact how people react to a missed deadline when it does happen.

[blockquote cite=”Douglas Adams” type=”center”]I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.[/blockquote]

Are you someone who chronically misses deadlines and apologizes profusely? Are you someone who considers ‘close of business’ as before midnight?

If you are…no matter how good your final product is you are slowly destroying the trust others have in you and causing harm to your career.

Four tips to avoid missing another deadline

Negotiate the deadline or your workload. Assuming the deadline isn’t flexible, ask your supervisor to help you determine some priorities to meet the deadline. You may find out there’s some flex in the deadline if you have other higher priorities deadlines.

Set your own ‘internal deadline’ 3-4 days before the real deadline. That way, if you’re late you’re the only one disappointed.

Schedule time to work on it. Seriously. Block off an hour or two each day to focus entirely on the product you’re working on.

Give a heads-up when you realize you aren’t going to meet the deadline. This doesn’t mean at 5pm the day before (or day of) the deadline. The heads up creates options for how to still the product completed – perhaps it’s reassigned to someone, perhaps you’re given compensatory time to work on it beyond your normal work hours, perhaps other projects can be taken off your list to give the time needed to finish it…and worst case, it gives your supervisor a chance to set expectations with whomever was the receiver of the product.