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How Do I Get People To Follow Deadlines At Work?

You don't have to lose your cool.
PHOTO: Adrianna Willams

In a perfect world, no one would be late and everyone would just know that not meeting a deadline is fucking rude. But we don't live in a perfect world. Instead, we live in a world where each person has his or her own time and agenda. That means, as much as you'd love to have someone complete a task or submit a document by a certain deadline—unless you're the CEO of your company—you usually don't get it on time. And this is especially stressful when you can't finish a report or project without someone else's input. This is what you need to do:

1. Establish a *specific* deadline.

Because not everyone has your sense of urgency, it's always safer to have a specific deadline. Saying, "Can you have this ready by next week?" is too vague. Try this instead: "I'd like to get this back by Monday before noon." That way, there's a mutual understanding. We're not saying that it always works, but at least they can't wiggle themselves out of a clear deadline.

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2. Remember that it's not just about you.

When it comes to deadlines, you probably think, "Shouldn't deadlines just be respected just because it's the polite thing to do?" Yes. You're right. But you should also keep in mind that the other person is probably thinking, "What's in it for me? How does it help me?" Like it or not, people are just programmed to think that way, especially if demands are being placed on their time. So when you set a deadline, make sure your coworker understands that meeting it is mutually beneficial.

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3. Be proactive and check up.

If you're going to check up on a project—and we think you should—do so waaay before the actual deadline. You panicking the night before doesn't help anyone. Ask for updates every few days or as often as you see fit. Being at a standstill and feeling like you can't be productive are frustrating, but it's best to keep things polite, even if it means nervously checking your email every five minutes. 

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Source: The Muse 

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