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Blog #94 … The Relationship Between Deadlines and your Perishable Calendar

You like peaches? I like peaches. Most people like peaches and most people would agree they are best when fresh. Not canned or stewed, but fresh peaches just off the tree and on to your table.

Peaches are seasonal but more importantly, they are perishable. I’m not exactly sure what the shelf life or “best before” date is for a peach, but I do know – we all know – that if they’re not consumed in a few days, they will go bad. So sad, is the wasted peach.

You can’t re-fresh them. You can’t send them for a “peach lift”, and once gone, they are gone.

The same goes for our calendars. There are fifty two weeks in the calendar. I have fifty two weeks, you have fifty two weeks, and no calendar favors or handicaps a calendar based on one’s status or station in life. Bill Gates has fifty two weeks, you have fifty two weeks. Just like the peach, when they’re gone, they’re gone.

Because of this, we all strive to get as much accomplished within these weeks as possible. Productivity and making money are directly related to this fact, which brings me to the subject of deadlines.

Most people, and certainly those in the B2B sales space depend on others, and depending on others requires respect for one another’s time. I do something for you when I said I would, you do the same for me.

Because of this, we make commitments to others. Sometimes they are requested, other times imposed, but in each case a deadline is usually based on meeting a timeline, task, or deliverable. Deadlines live within calendars, so when a deadline is missed, so too is the chance for accomplishing the most from a calendar.

I am often surprised by the increasingly lackadaisical attitude towards deadlines. We now live in a far more egalitarian workplace than that of years past. Rarely do employers or managers “brute force” or issue edicts to those they manage. Our workplace today is one of collaboration and managing by consensus, thusly providing more people greater scope and freedom with respect to what they take seriously, and what they do not.

My professional journey has brought me into the inner sanctums of many different companies and specifically their sales organizations within. Some are Fortune 100 companies, and some are much smaller, but the one thing they all have in common is the necessity of establishing deadlines to achieve their goals.

Missed deadlines are much like a production line. It only takes one part to be late, or one machine to malfunction, to bring the whole thing to a grinding halt.

Think about it for a moment. How many times in your workday has something been postponed, or an opportunity missed because someone missed a deadline?

Now think again, and imagine how productive business would be if the commitments people made to deadlines were honored.

What is the monetary loss when deadlines are missed?

So, if I may, a few suggestions.

Think very carefully about commitments you make to others and deadlines you take on. Be cognisant of what impact meeting a deadline you committed to will have on other’s abilities to get their work done, work they should reasonably expect to get done based on your pledge to contribute; work that will lead to a tangible, perhaps monetary gain.

Be judicious about the deadlines you take on. Think it through. Will you be good for your word? Do you have the time? Do you have the interest? Is what is being asked of you within your capabilities?

Spread yourself thick. That is, don’t spread yourself too thinly such that you simply won’t have the time to meet a deadline.

Think about how much more productive others could be, and you could be, if you just delivered on deadlines.

Finally, take a look back and reverse map last month. Take a close look at your calendar, agenda, or CRM. Evaluate all that you accomplished that was dependent on others having delivered on their deadlines, and then evaluate opportunities missed when they didn’t.

Now, if you attribute a financial value to what was missed, you’ll appreciate the true gravity of how deadlines impact your success.

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