Deadlines: blessing or curse?

“Deadline” is an ominous sending word on its face. In fact, after some cursory research, we found the term may be connected with the American Civil War. Soldiers used “dead line” to reference an physical line or boundary prisoners in camps could not cross without being shot.


While we don’t advocate for a firing squad over a missed assignment due date, we do take today’s “deadlines” seriously, and so should you. Instead, though, of thinking of these time limits as negatives, what about revisiting the term?

Could a deadline be a gift?

Without a deadline, a fraction of our accomplishments would never be completed. They allow us to prioritize our “to-do” list. We can manage our time, or projects, our output and even our mental well-being.

Deadlines create the framework in which productivity happens.

Deadlines give us the gift of sanity, respect and efficiency.

Here are 3 tips for giving and enjoying the gift of deadlines:

  • Set them for yourself to help keep you on track, even for internal projects.
  • When asking others to do something (or even respond to an email), provide a deadline to help them manage the task and timeframe. 
  • Be respectful of deadlines given to you by others, and realize the impact missing one may have, i.e. snowball effect.
  • If you’re unable to meet a deadline, communication is key. As soon as you know a deadline might not be attainable (even if you have a sneaking suspicion)—give a heads up so the other party can reorganize.

The next time someone gives you a deadline, perhaps, you should thank them!

Photo credit:

unsplash-logoKevin Ku