The 3 Types of Deadlines (And Why Meeting Them Is Crucial to Success)

No matter what industry you are in, you must respect these three types of deadlines to succeed. 

There has been a lot written about how tight, strict deadlines can improve both productivity and motivation. Most managers are familiar with Parkinson’s law, which states, “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” If you haven’t heard this saying, it still probably rings true. Put in physical terms, work is like a liquid and deadlines are like a container. The more distant the deadline, the more the work seems to spread out like a shallow pool. Pull that deadline in closer, and you’ll be forced to tap into a well of productivity.

At EnableVue, we organize deadlines into three major categories: external, internal, and self-imposed. One deadline with a client (external deadlines) spawns a multitude of deadlines within our company. The final deliverable is divided into parts and phases (internal deadlines), which are assigned to various teams. Ultimately, individual employees are responsible for meeting their own personal deadlines (self-imposed deadlines), which are usually parsed out even further to suit their preferred method of working.

At this micro level, deadlines are psychological, yet they are no less important than the ultimate deadline of delivering the final product to the client. These highly personal, uniquely psychological deadlines are the nuts and bolts that keep progress moving forward and eventually ensures that high expectations of quality are met. Finding and retaining talented people who know how to harness the power of deadlines is imperative to achieving success on the organizational level, and is a topic we will discuss in depth in future posts.

It doesn’t matter what industry you work in; deadlines are an integral part of everyday work. They probably are most often associated with journalism, but attorneys, engineers, bankers, doctors, and even artists must learn to set and meet deadlines. Anyone who dismisses their power to motivate, enhance productivity, and measure performance does so at their own risk.

At EnableuVue, we respect deadlines because we respect our clients. They are inseparable. What role do deadlines play in your work life, and how does that relate to the deadlines of your organization as a whole? 

Further Reading:

“Parkinson’s Law” by C. Northcote Parkinson. The Economist.

“Need Motivation? Declare a Deadline” by Phyllis Korkki. The New York Times.