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We all have a deadline to meet all the time. Some of us have deadlines to determine and set. We all need a reminder at least at some point in our lives. Some of us, need to remind people of the same. Well, some deadlines are pretty obvious and need no reminders. Most of us would hardly meet some deadlines if we had no reminders. Thanks to our smartphones. Although I must confess, I still use sticky notes and notepads. I love my handwriting. That’s why.

I have spent most of my campus life setting deadlines and needing to meet deadlines set by other people. Mostly, lecturers.

What about deadlines then?

I believe deadlines are there to help us meet a certain objective within a specific period of time. Underline “period of time”. My friend once told me we don’t serve deadlines. Deadlines serve us. I agree. Totally. The problem is, this friend of mine hardly met any of his deadlines for the two years that I worked with him. Blame it on our busy schedules. A medical school is a busy place. Everybody knows that.
Why do I need to meet a deadline? Thanks for asking.

Like I already said, deadlines are there to help us accomplish a certain objective within a specified period of time. You need to meet the deadline because you need things done. I hate carrying things forward and even God knows that. I usually tell my friends if I don’t do it by then (the desired time), get someone else to do it. Meeting your set deadlines frees up your schedule. It facilitates your progress. It gives you joy and satisfaction. I like going to bed knowing I have nothing pending. Really, it’s liberating.

I once read some Church secretary’s manual (written in the nineties) and it said “there are two things your boss doesn’t want to hear: ‘I am sorry’ and ‘I forgot’”. I couldn’t agree any less. I wouldn’t want to hear that either. If I was your boss. Another reason why you need to meet the damn deadline is that nobody wants to hear these words: I am sorry, I forgot.

How do you make sure you meet a deadline?

Simple; Plan for it. Plan when to start and when that time comes, do it. I have spent about two years now setting deadlines for people. My observation and hence the conclusion is that; when people receive a deadline, they do nothing about it. Most people know when it is supposed to be done but they fail to plan when they should start doing it. A deadline should and is meant to inform you about the amount of time you have before the said date and time. This alone is enough to have you decide when you will start working, how long you will work and the pace you’ll use to get things done.

People in Medical school will text you something like “I’m sorry I couldn’t meet my deadline. I have a CAT in the morning” two hours after a deadline. I have absolutely nothing against that. I have failed to meet some deadlines as well because of an exam. But do you realize for as long as you’re alive you’ll always have something coming up next? Today it’s an exam, tomorrow it’ll be something else…maybe a date or a flight to catch.

What if people don’t meet my deadlines?

You may think you have no role in having them beat their deadlines. Well, I’m sorry to disappoint. Actually, you do. See, I don’t believe in forgetting but some people do. I once had a boss-cum-colleague who would tell me after every point of action “please remind me”. Those who know me know I don’t like this, but I do it anyway. Actually, he helped me develop a culture of being a reminder.

What about reminders?

Personally, I remind people at least one week to, three days to, in the morning and a few minutes to the deadline. I like setting my deadlines at 5.00 pm. There’s nothing special about it. Actually, that’s just another witty way of creating room for those who need extra time. And they don’t disappoint. More often than not you get a text like “would you please let me submit mine by midnight” and anything close to that. Which doesn’t get personal, because I prepare for it.

What if I can’t meet a deadline?

Failing to meet a deadline is okay. Not doing something about it is not okay. Always be apologetic about it inasmuch as nobody wants that apology. Be creative about it but don’t lie. This is why I like the Character Olivia Pope of the Scandal- series and her rules. Rule number one: DO NOT LIE.
Look, forgetting is not a reason. Personally, I don’t believe in forgetting but I still forget at times. If you happen to forget, admit it.

The point is, deadlines will always be there. They are there to serve us. Whether you’re the one setting them or meeting them, you really can’t do it without a reminder except on a few occasions. Remember, nobody wants to hear “I’m sorry I couldn’t”. Meet your deadlines. I like beating all my deadlines.

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