Wednesday, December 09, 2009

All the Time But No Time For a Deadline

My world is all upside down and downside up – or at least it is when time management is concerned in this new economy.

PLANTATION, FL- NOVEMBER 02:  Howie Brown adju...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Being an ex-journalist, I’m used to juggling several deadlines simultaneously. I’ve learned the best way to get just about anything done is to put a deadline on its completion. Without doing that basic task, things don’t get done, because there isn’t the need.

Although I’m no longer in the timely world of news gathering, I still tack deadlines on all my projects. I give those who I need to get things from deadlines, so that I can meet the deadlines I’ve given myself to get those things done.

Though those I issue deadlines to never seem to care. A couple of weeks before the deadline, I politely remind them about it. A day or two before it comes due, again, another polite reminder. Then the deadline passes, and nadda, nothing, not even a frantic email apologizing for missing the deadline.

When I was a journalist, if you missed your deadline, the first time you’d get an earful from the editor, and on the next occurrence, you’d be done, gone, finite-oh, fired.

These days, when I chase people down who’ve missed a deadline, I’m the one who gets the earful from some executive that doesn’t meet deadlines either.
Must be the so-called new economy of today.

In our haste to cut costs, we’ve cut corners, and forgot the importance of getting things done.

I’ve been “working” on several projects continuously which normally would have been completed months ago, just because no one has met the deadlines I’ve set, and despite my attempts to get the information from ‘em, nothing gets done.
That’s why the word “working” is in quotes – until I get what I need to do my job, there really isn’t much of a job for me to do.

And it isn’t just my place of employment where time management has taken a back-seat in this new economy.

Today I got a cool flyer about improvements to my digital cable service. These new enhancements provide more interactive controls, allow me to preview six-channels at the same time, and even have a local news and weather feature.
The implementation deadline for these new enhancements? Mid-January – not a specific date, just that it’ll happen sometime next month.

Not to rock my cable provider’s services – they do an amazing job and provide the best customer service I’ve ever had from a cable company. When they enhance the system, they really do improve it – not like many other companies that just change one little thing and then jack up the price.

But back in the old economy where things got done, my cable provider would actually specify a date, and even a time, when they rolled out new features.
Guess they have moved to that new economy too, where time just doesn’t really matter. We’ll get things done when we get ‘em done.

That’s too bad, because open-ended deadlines don’t work. Read any management textbook, talk to any expert on running a business, even ask that geeky kid down the street that just took his MBA and they’ll all tell you the same thing.

Deadlines drive the wheels of the global economy.

Or at least they used to before those wheels fell off and left us twiddling our thumbs, wondering – just when will anything ever get done?

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