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The Deal With Deadlines

The Deal with Deadlines

By Renée Cohen
Proposal Manager & Contributing Writer at Quantum

Odds are that every classroom and/or office contains at least one individual who lives under the false impression that deadlines don’t apply to them.

Years ago, Ally had a classmate in university for whom assignment deadlines were never viewed as a given. “Matty” always employed the same excuse on the very day assignments were due. “I just have one more thing to do, then I’ll hand my paper in… next week.”

According to Ally, Matty was fortunate in that professors always accepted her requests for extensions. However, Matty’s repeated disregard for set deadlines (and her apparent expectation that extensions would always be granted) demonstrated a sense of entitlement ─ which didn’t endear her to her fellow classmates.

To this day, Ally still recalls how her classmates questioned why Matty seemed to feel her work was more important than theirs ─ and thus worthy of the extra time allotted. “From the perspective of the rest of us who respected the imposed deadlines, we felt those extensions were unjust,” Ally says.

As Ally’s anecdote suggests, not respecting deadlines ─ be it at school or work – can convey the perpetrator’s unspoken belief that their time is more precious than everybody else’s.

A similar lack of consideration occurred when a deadline was missed at the IT company where Brian works. Upon the request of his boss, Brian, who works in Marketing, was tasked with creating a sales document. To complete the project, he asked his coworkers to send him their updated bios “before EOD” (end of day). Most of his coworkers complied and provided their responses that same day – all but one, that is.

(Cue the sound of crickets.)

Five days after he’d sent out his initial request (and two days after he’d sent out a reminder), Brian finally received the missing bio – with no apology or reason for the delay.

Despite his annoyance, Brian admits that an unintentionally ironic inclusion in his colleague’s response made him laugh aloud. “My colleague had updated his bio with a sentence about how clients appreciated him for always being responsive and for always meeting deadlines.”


Brian ended up handing the project in late. Now, he fears the blame will fall on his shoulders if the company’s sales are adversely affected as a result.

“Handing work in late is selfish. It actually shows a serious lack of consideration for others. The next time I have to ask that particular colleague for anything, I’ll adjust his deadline accordingly. Will I get quality work from him if he has less time in which to complete it? That’s a chance I’ll have to take, since I obviously can’t trust him.”

Sometimes extenuating circumstances make observing deadlines literally impossible. In those cases, delays are completely understandable and forgivable! Otherwise, handing work in on time and meeting deadlines simply demonstrates common courtesy.

Besides, leaving work to the last minute can be anxiety inducing and potentially risky.  After all, impediments come in many forms (i.e., computer issues, power outages, toothaches, pet turtles chowing down on documents, alien invasions, etc…)

Generally speaking, when a boss or colleague assigns work with an accompanying deadline, it is likely because they too have a deadline to meet. The work that’s been assigned is probably just one of the many valuable pieces needed for the completion a larger puzzle.

Of course, if the deadlines being given are consistently unfounded and/or impossible to meet, consider setting a self-imposed deadline to find yourself a new job.

Quantum can help you meet your career goals on time. Check out our job listings now!

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