Why Timelines & Deadlines Matter

We’re all familiar with timelines and deadlines.


In fact, before we even understood – or were aware of – what timelines and deadlines are, we were held to a nine-month timeline to take a very first breath. And since then, you’ve probably come to realise that nothing much in the world would be accomplished without timelines and deadlines.


But on a more personal level, why do timelines and deadlines matter?


  1. They hold you accountable.
  2. They give you a sense of urgency.
  3. They help you plan.
  4. They help you prioritise tasks.
  5. They can motivate and inspire you.
  6. They can enable you to recognise progress.
  7. There are consequences if they’re not met.
  8. They help you recognise when a job or task is complete.


Now, let’s explore each of the above points in more detail.


1. Deadlines/Timelines hold you accountable

Without deadlines – whether self-imposed or set by someone else – not much would get finished. Hence, they hold you accountable to finish your work within a required timeframe.

If a timeline or deadline is not met, it means that someone will be disappointed. And that someone could be a client, your colleague or manager, or even yourself. The thought of letting someone else down can help hold you accountable to deliver a piece of work.Conversely, if you consistently deliver on time, you establish a reputation for being reliable and dependable in the workplace. Everyone you work with will know that they can count on you to do what you say on-time.


2. Deadlines/Timelines give you a sense of urgency

Working towards meeting an upcoming deadline imparts a sense of urgency and purpose.

For those who struggle with procrastination, a fast-approaching deadline can help them recognise that it’s time to get to work. For others – especially those who thrive under pressure – deadlines enable them to produce their best work.

Without deadlines, tasks would be de-prioritised and could even end up not getting done altogether.


3. Deadlines/Timeline help you plan

Deadlines are an essential part of any plan that helps you complete required work. This is because a plan typically involves taking a deadline and splitting it up into smaller tasks. These smaller tasks will have their own deadlines that have to be completed within a shorter timeframe.

Hence, what might once have seemed like a large project with an unobtainable deadline, is split up into a series of smaller and more manageable tasks with each completed task moving you closer to meeting the overall deadline.


4. Deadlines help you prioritise tasks

When you’re involved in several projects at once, deadlines enable you to prioritise where and how you should spend your time.

It makes sense to organise work tasks by the immediacy of their deadlines, focusing your efforts on the task that is due first. By doing so, you’re prioritising tasks that have the least amount of time available to complete them.

Although multi-tasking is inevitable in this busy day and age, many people do struggle with how they spend their time, leading to productivity issues when they jump between tasks. Prioritising tasks by deadlines can help you determine where and what you should focus your time on next.


5. Deadlines/Timelines can motivate and inspire you

The thought of not meeting a deadline or timeline can give rise to a feeling of anxiety. But despite its negative connotations, anxiety can serve as a motivator – enabling you to rise to the occasion and produce your best work.

Besides motivating, deadlines can also be inspiring. How so? Just think of what meeting a deadline will mean for a colleague, or what you’ll have accomplished by meeting a deadline and how much you’ll have learned in the process.

How you’ll celebrate or reward yourself after meeting a deadline can also be a source of motivation or inspiration.


6. Deadlines/Timelines enable you to recognise progress

Wake up, go to work, go home, have dinner, watch some Netflix, go to bed, wake up and do it all over again. It’s easy to get caught up in going through the motions – not only in life, but at work as well.

With deadlines however, meeting one enables you to look back and recognise what you’ve accomplished. More importantly, it also allows you to recognise that progress was made. And when you’ve met the final deadline for a project or piece or work, you can take a timeout to revel in a sense of accomplishment.


7. There are consequences if deadlines/timelines are not met

Whilst this goes without saying, it bears reiterating that there are consequences to missing a deadline or pushing back on a timeline. Such consequences could include financial loss, the loss of a client, a tarnished reputation, and most importantly a loss of trust between colleagues or from clients.


8. Deadlines/Timelines help you recognise when a job or task is complete

If you’re perfectionist, then you might find it difficult to recognise when a job or task is complete – nothing is ever complete unless it’s perfect.That’s where deadlines come in. Deadlines help perfectionists recognise when a job or task is complete and that it’s time to move on to the next task. After all, spending two hours on a task that should take only an hour doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll get a result that’s twice as good.Hence, whatever effort that is required for you to be content with the finished product needs to be put in before the deadline.


Having covered why deadlines and timelines matter, the next part of this series will give you some tips on how to establish deadlines/timelines. But before that, we’d like to leave you with some food for thought…


“There are 86,400 seconds each day. What are you doing today so that tomorrow, you’re a step closer to where you want to be? If not now, then when?”


This article was originally published by Golden Equator People Experience Management Team