Be a fit in the team #5 – Deadlines

Hello again,

Me: Today you have that thing to deliver… what was the name of it… probably not that important enough. You will figure it out when you get to work. Meh, on a second thought I think I have promised my colleague to have it ready by the end of the day yesterday. Who cares, nobody is sending emails in the middle of the night.

Him: Aww, tomorrow morning I must really focus on the task QWE. I really hope that the answer for ASD is send by the end of the day today so I can just finish it. Such a minor task anyway… for my piece of mine, I would save a draft of the message tonight and spell proof read it tomorrow. If only I could get that reply… ARGHH!


Case presentation:

The deadlines, minor or major, are a very powerful motivational tool for everyone.

They help us split the work in chunks which allow us to track the progress. Without this metric we always have to go through the process of estimating what have been done and what it remains to be done. What’s even worse if the fact that only you, the executor can provide this estimation based on your knowledge. The less experienced you are, the more vague the estimation will be.

With deadlines we can provide an overview of what will be done and when. This enables the people around us to mind their business and net their needs and expectations around our deliverables.

Another aspect would be the amount of dopamine released by the brain when we are done with a piece of work. Now, making us feed good is a great achievement by itself, but this is not all. A snowball effect is triggered and the need to finish more arises.

In addition to the above aspects, the deadlines help us control the work spikes and overtime. Without a good system of tracking and presenting the estimations vs time used there is no way you can explain the necessary resources. There are bottlenecks everywhere. The fact that they exist is a problem, not working towards solving them is another problem altogether.


1) Understand the current system of estimations. It might not exist, it might be flawed or it might be room for improvement. Ask about it.

2) Start by logging your own piece of work by respecting what’s currently in place or create something new and observe how long each piece of work takes.

3) When you are comfortable with your system, start logging your work in advance and iron out the new problems.

4) Now you are in the position in which you could present your system. Don’t go just yet. Calculate how much overhead it adds to your work versus the advantages. Most people want numbers and a dream. Make sure you match your resources with the client’s.

5) Pick your fight. Present it to the ones equal to you if allies are needed for a cause, make sure your system helps the organisation. Don’t create a riot. Present it to your lead if you want to increase your visibility.

6) Profit!

The good:

1)  Makes you happier at work.

2) Partially removes the blame of not finishing everything in time.

3) Creates historical data to set better expectations in the future.

The bad:

1) By using such a system, expectations are generated and people are supposed to stick to it.

2) It is easy to draw untimely conclusions regarding a team member just by using estimations alone. Avoid doing this, it is a very slippery road.

3) Some personalities might feel surrounded and constrained.


Be the person who has a log of what new items pop up and ask the relevant entity to re-prioritise your work based on the new entries. There is a fixed an amount of time and everyone’s goal is to deliver as much as possible in that amount of time.

Be the colleague that announces a delay ahead of time and does not delay his colleagues.


Don’t forget. Estimations are your friend.


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