How to Handle a Deadline When You’re Out of Time

Posted by in Career Success, Time Management | 0 comments

This has been a crazy week for me. I’ve had a ton of work to do, multiple deadlines, rework of the work I thought was finished, a brand new project kicked off and on top of it all I lost my iPad.

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Deadlines seem to be looming around every corner and just when I’ve checked one off the list there is another one staring me in the face.

I know this time will pass and everything will slow down again, but right now I feel like I’m in the fruit ninja game and I’m just hacking at the next thing in order to stay alive.

How about you? How’s your week been?

I’ll bet you’ve had a similar type of week or something close to it.

So what do you do when a deadline is quickly approaching and you’ve run out of time?

Here are five steps you can take to deal with the situation:

1. Assess the situation. Take a moment to stop, collect your thoughts, and evaluate what really has to be done at this point. Can you actually complete the work in the amount time you have left?

2. Create a plan. After you have a handle on what will be required to complete the task it’s time to figure out the best way to get it done. If you can get it done on time then it’s time to get to work . If you know you simply don’t have enough time to get the job done it’s time to create contingency plans. Can you get others to help you? Can you produce a less than perfect product at this point? Can you ask for an extension? Start thinking of ways to get the job done without jeopardizing the timeliness or quality of finished product.

3. Decide to act. This may sound silly, but we can often get so overwhelmed by what lays before us we become paralyzed. Regardless of what happens, make a decision to take action on something. If it turns out to be the wrong action, change as soon as you can, but keep moving forward.

4. Communicate. If the deadline is in jeopardy of being missed begin communicating with anyone who may be impacted. Start letting them know where you are and what you’re doing to still deliver. If you know you’re going to miss the deadline regardless of what you do be sure to set expectations with those involved. Don’t surprise anyone at the last minute. It may still be painful, but it’s better to experience the pain earlier than later.

5. Do the work. Ultimately you just have to grind it out. Put fingers to keyboard, paint to canvas, hand to wrench, rear in seat. Whatever you have to do, just do it. No more dilly dallying – get ‘er done.

I can see the calm on the horizon at this point in the week and I know everything will turn out just fine. (Except for losing my iPad, still grieving that one – ouch). These types of weeks are a test. Sometimes I pass and sometimes I fail. Kind of like life.


Question: What else can you do when you think you might miss a deadline?