I was juggling quite a few projects at one time. I was balancing important
and not important, urgent and not urgent, I was putting
in the hours and efforts, and still one of my projects went beyond
the deadline. Yet, it passed without a word from my boss, or anyone
else for that matter. As much as I try to do everything I can to communicate
progress to the powers that be, in this case, it slipped through the
cracks and I didn’t provide any heads-up. For the record, as previously
stated, I will emphasize that communication is critical in these matters.
Somehow, in this case, it wasn’t done. I had what I thought were the
right priorities—a strong relationship with my boss and no intentions
of hiding anything—so I let him know that the deadline had passed,
and told him my plans for completion. His response?
“Oh yeah, I forgot about that. Get it to me when you can. No
Let’s go back to the comment that communication is critical to
time management. When originally told about the initiative, I should
have asked the following question: “What happens if the deadline is
missed?” I should have ensured that our priorities were the same. We
sometimes have our own internal pressures that are far greater than
reality. Do you put more pressure on yourself than anyone else? Reign
in some of the pressure and give yourself a break.
It’s time to add the appropriate questions to your arsenal when asked
to complete a project. Start by asking when the deadline is, and follow
it up with a version of the question, “What happens if the deadline
Getting an idea of the true urgency is important in order to match
priorities with the requestor. If he or she says you’ll be fired if you
don’t meet the deadline, then I think you understand the priorities.
But in all seriousness, if you form the habit of asking questions about
prioritization and urgency from the actual requester, you’ll build trust
with your colleagues and supervisors and ensure that everyone is
consistently attuned to the same goals.
Thomas B. Dowd III’s books available in softcover, eBook, and audiobook (From Fear to Success only):
- Now What? The Ultimate Graduation Gift for Professional Success
- Time Management Manifesto: Expert Strategies to Create an Effective Work/Life Balance
- Displacement Day: When My Job was Looking for a Job…A Reference Guide to Finding Work
- The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas: Growing from a Cynic to a Professional in the Corporate World
- From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-speaking Guide received the Gold Medal at the 2013 Axiom Business Book Awards in Business Reference
- The Unofficial Guide to Fatherhood