I am a developer; or rather I enjoy developing so much that someone has decided to pay me for it. In my job, deadlines aren’t so much definitive destinations as tour guide suggestions for swell places to visit sometime in the future – a fact that I’m not all too proud of. Business, it seems, is taking this trend to heart…
Schools have systems in place to punish learners for not completing their homework on time – systems that exist because a) learners avoid their parents at any cost when it comes to homework-time, or b) parents just don’t care about homework-time.
Wherever we look, we’re faced with an overall attitude that it’s ok to promise and break promises, even before we’re out the door. It’s ok to say one thing when we know perfectly well that there’s a solid chance that we won’t deliver. And that it’s ok to do so, over and over again. When I say ‘we’; of course I mean everyone, but Christians in particular should know better.
‘Above all, my brothers, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Let your “Yes” be yes, and your “No,” no, or you will be condemned.’ – James 5:12
We should know what we can and will deliver when we say we will, and our word should be good enough. Our word should be good enough.
What about when we make mistakes, or things change that we have no control over, and we end up overtime? In the last month I have worked solidly on a deadline that wasn’t possible to make. Countless hours in front of the laptop, office sleepovers, blood-caffeine count through the roof…What could I have done?
There will always be things we can’t control, but there are some practical things we can do to make the situation better…
A large portion of this problem can be avoided altogether by the proper planning. We don’t go through the years of schooling without some idea of how to plan our homework. We don’t walk into a job without similar knowledge of how to plan for the task we are assigned. We just need to get up off our butts and plan like smart people…
Be up front
Tell the client/teacher/parent/friend/accomplice that you may run out of time. If you aren’t 100% sure that you can deliver to the letter on the dot, then you shouldn’t be promising it in the first place. They may still want specifics, but they should be reasonable sort of people, who understand the value of being true to one’s word.
And when that doesn’t work? Let everyone know that you aren’t going to make deadline. As soon as you know you’re not; there’s no point in waiting until there’s nothing anybody can do about it. Just be up front.
There will always be times when you can’t make deadline, but it doesn’t (and shouldn’t) be a defining factor of who you are, or how you operate. You want people to think of you as an upfront person, instead of someone who over-promises and under-delivers.