Timeline or Deadline stress!

by Marcy Heim on September 13, 2023

stressed woman

You missed the deadline. Maybe didn’t sleep much worrying about it. Or perhaps you slept just fine and rolled your eyes about the colleague who is an over-the-top jerk about her self-created deadlines.  Perhaps you know full well that you can get your part done, and done well, without being weeks ahead. It’s downright frustrating that others need to create a crisis around completing a few simple tasks.

Deadlines are always part of life. For it to be a REAL deadline, something has to happen. Historically a deadline was the line drawn around a prison beyond which prisoners were liable to be shot – that’s pretty real. No stress in that, right? So for most of us a deadline is something definite – the wedding, the grant submission date, December 31st, your presentation day, the vacation, the show.

Then there is the timeline! A timeline is actually when you do the work. Ideally a timeline takes away the stress of a deadline. Timelines have flex. Deadlines don’t… unless they are self or management imposed deadlines and this can bring the stress right back.

You see, timelines reduce the stress of deadlines ONLY if created based on the ability of your weakest link – in skill or mindset!

Plan your year-end timelines and deadlines based on the weakest link in the process.

Truths about timelines and deadlines – Creating good timelines and deadlines depends upon several factors:

1. Our beliefs and mindset. What it will take to execute the timeline (and meet a deadline) will impact the steps, space, and check-in’s we believe are needed. They reflect our own perception of the task and its difficulty or ease.

2. Our experience, individually or as a group. If this is a task/process we have done forever, we have people we’ve worked with for years, etc, our timeline is more flexible. Covid shook this up for a lot of us. This impacts timeline, not the real deadline.

3. Our personal self-confidence in our ability to do our part of the work.For example, if we are a long time speaker we need different prep time than the beginning speaker who wants ample time to rehearse.

4. Our overall self-confidence/self esteem. If we are confident and have high self-esteem, this is reflected in our approach to all our work. Likewise, if we struggle with feeling like we are not enough, do not get the respect we feel we should, or have perfectionist qualities it can manifest significantly in timeline work.

5. Our belief in our colleagues doing the task with us. This is about your staff colleagues as well as outside vendor colleagues. If a printer is always late, you build in time to deal with this (or seek another source). If you don’t have faith in your colleagues – you feel they don’t have the same level of dedication or experience you do, you feel they have let you down in the past, or you feelyou can count on them.

Being kind and liked is more important than being right or - often you're actually neither.

6. Our fear of unknowns.  What if? Sure, being prepared for unexpected delays, illness, or competing projects has a place. But be sure to also manifest a clear road, AND that you can easily be bigger than any problem that comes along.

Generosity blossoms in the last quarter of the year. Generally 1/3 of US individual giving (around $105,600,000,000 of the total $320,000,000,000 in 2022) happens in December – 12% in the last three days of the year.  As we enter our year-end planning and our key work with major donors remember these keys to success.

Key Do’s and Don’ts for successful timelines and deadlines (and year-end planning)!

1. Remember the difference between timelines and deadlines. Don’t create deadlines in timelines – that puts all the stress back into them!  Check-in’s that foster open space for participants to be at different places along the timeline build trust and actually make people more inclined to stay on the timeline.

inspire and create excitement

2. Inspire and create excitement for the results of working a timeline. All participants (this may not be the lead, but great if it is!) can support success by bringing positive energy to the work. Good managers and leaders know that getting angry, critical or reminding people, “I even put this deadline in your calendar” doesn’t foster strong working relationships.  

3. Balance passion and collegiality.  YOU are passionate about how this process, event, and/or year-end fundraising happens! You are dedicated, you care, and you want to do excellent work. Urg! How can others be so incompetent? Why don’t they follow-through? Don’t they see that your ideas are better?  Don’t they care? How do they still have their job?!!!

How our events, mailings, whatever looks and runs IS important. People will react/judge typos, long registration lines, and weeds. But it is MORE IMPORTANT to foster positive caring relationships and not make it about you and your performance demons.

I often say we have a calling – not a job. Yet, when our passion invades the tone and wording in emails, finds us complaining to leadership, getting angry, demanding action, and worse – gossiping about colleagues – we do nothing to inspire generosity, success and abundance. They just earn you a title – and generally not a good one. If you are constantly complaining about how much work you do, that you aren’t appreciated or supported, etc know that this really reflects YOUR victim mentality – poor me, and you can change that!

Drop the victim. Drop the blame. Decide to shine today!

Drop the victim. Drop the blame. Decide to shine today. Your timelines, and also your whole life, will be a happier process and your deadlines will produce the results you are after! Ta da tad a……CHARGE!

Invest in JOY®

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