Managing Deadlines

January 2022

Getty Images

Creating successful content marketing takes creativity and skill, and it takes adhering to an established production schedule so that deliverables are timely. A production schedule lays out the workflow for team members by directing them how and when to work on a project, motivating everyone through deadlines. In whatever way you meet a deadline—either by completing your task a few days ahead of plan, or up against it thriving on eleventh-hour adrenalin—you also have to be prepared to manage unplanned circumstances.

Reminder: We are still in a pandemic

In the late fall of 2020, I committed to selling my long-time home and having a new one built to better suit my needs. More than a year after my builder’s original deadline, family and friends often ask if the house is close to completion. My “not yet” response is sometimes met with an incredulous-toned “What’s taking so long?!” I silently count to three and remind them of how people and industries have been, and continue to be, impacted by the pandemic. To reduce stress, I think many people are buffering themselves from the reality that we are still hobbling through a pandemic and expect people and systems to hum along without interruption, but that’s often not the case.

Even in the best of times, missing a deadline is understandable and forgivable … as long as it’s not habitual. The ongoing pandemic has caused the disruption alarm to still go off due to labor and supply chain shortages. While workflow deadlines should be followed, a team needs to be flexible when mishaps arise.

Tips for managing deadlines

  • Keep apprised of project schedules by setting digital reminders or referring daily to your deadlines.
  • Review schedules in advance and offer alternatives to unreasonable timeframes.
  • Add a personal buffer to your scheduled due dates.
  • If you realize that there is a chance you will miss a deadline, give advance notice to everyone who will be affected by a delay.
  • State the facts that led to the missed deadline, and avoid an accusatory tone toward others.
  • Provide sound reason for requesting a deadline extension.
  • Offer an alternative deadline, not just a request for unspecified “additional time.”
  • Rejigger deadlines. Typically nobody likes to do this, but these are trying times and people’s well-being needs top consideration.
  • If you are suddenly unable to work, let key shareholders know so that your tasks can be reassigned. Redirect your email to an agreeable coworker.
  • Apologizing for a missed deadline helps acknowledge the inconvenience to other team members.
  • Ask coworkers who have fallen behind how you can help, and help only if you have the bandwidth.
  • Offer brief periodic updates to reassure your team that you are working on the project and on target to meet the new deadline.
  • Deliver high-quality work on your new deadline.

Keep building upon your success!

Maureen Joyce