Deadlines in the historical sense mean a line drawn around a prison beyond which prisoners risked getting shot. But unless you work for a really strict boss, deadlines mean something different now. However, they still have the same frightening effect. Missing deadlines is also a constant struggle for many.

But don’t worry. You’re going to understand the exact reasons why you’re missing deadlines.

But first here’s a good tip to keep in mind: You could be constantly losing your battle against deadlines due to a combination of the factors on this list. No single one of them is standalone. So take this into consideration when you’re narrowing down the source of the problem.

Why are you missing deadlines?

  • You procrastinate

Let’s be honest: everyone procrastinates. From a long update email, you have to send to your boss to a meeting you can’t get yourself to schedule, all tasks are prone to our procrastination.

Making the decision to start working on a task has a lot to do with impulse control. If you tend to usually act impulsively or hastily, then you’re probably missing deadlines often and have a harder time making decisions in general. Of course, you might also be suffering from decision fatigue that is causing your lack of impulse control.

So if you’re always struggling to control your impulses and you do everything when you feel like doing it not when you have to do it, then procrastination is likely the culprit here.

If you’re always struggling to control your impulses, then procrastination is the issue. #DeadlinesClick To Tweet
  • You are a victim of the planning fallacy

The planning fallacy is our tendency as humans to be generally optimistic about completing a task/project. This causes us to underestimate the time, effort, and/or resources required for said task/project.

In one of five studies exploring the reasons why we fall prey to the planning fallacy, think-aloud procedures revealed that we focus primarily on future scenarios/plans, instead of past experiences, when predicting task completion time. It was observed also that we attribute past failure to relatively external/transient factors. All of that is what leads us to underestimate the time we need.

It might sound like a complicated scientific concept, but it’s actually very common that everyone experiences it and not just at work. You probably have at some point underestimated how long it would take you to get dressed and reach that restaurant where your friends are waiting even though you were late the last time also. Similarly, that’s why you’ve just told your boss you’d be able to submit that important report tomorrow when, last month, it actually took you a week to complete it.

It is human nature to plan optimistically. But understanding how to deal with it will make all the difference between a report done thoroughly and completed on time and one done hastily only for the sake of meeting that second deadline/warning from your boss.

So if you’re always late, for personal and professional appointments alike, the planning fallacy is the most likely reason for you missing deadlines.

Be aware of the planning fallacy. #DeadlinesClick To Tweet
  • You don’t plan well

If you don’t have a comprehensive overview of all the tasks you have in a certain amount of time, you’re more likely to have challenging deadlines that will be very hard to meet during execution.

If you do have a to-do list of all your tasks but you are not aware of the priority of each, you’re also more likely to miss your deadlines. That’s because chances are you’ve started working on the wrong/small/unimportant task first.

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” ― Benjamin Franklin #DeadlinesClick To Tweet

The factors that contribute to bad planning are complex and intertwined. Procrastination can contribute to bad plans. The planning fallacy can do that too. Working under bad management (see the last point) definitely does. So if you’ve already figured out that one of the reasons on this list applies to you, then odds are planning is not your strong suit as well.

  • You’re a perfectionist

It might seem reasonable to completely focus on quality at the cost of quantity. But the truth is you’re a cog in the machine that is the whole organization you’re working for. You’re part of a bigger plan. And if the work is hampered by your perfectionism, the overall output will be affected. That’s not to say you should only focus on quantity, but reaching a balance is necessary.

Brené Brown: Perfectionism is not the same thing as striving to be our best. Perfectionism is not about healthy achievement and growth; it's a shield. #DeadlinesClick To Tweet
  • You’re working under a bad management

This is a big one. Management at work can make the work or break it. Dealing with bad management has negative effects on all aspects of work, and deadlines are no exception.

If you’re working in an understaffed team or one that lacks qualified employees, your manager might be assigning you a huge workload you just can’t handle. On the other hand, you actually might not be busy enough driving you to procrastinate because you know there’s no rush since you don’t have anything else to work on.

Moreover, your manager might not be communicating the task requirements and objectives clearly. That’s why you end up confused about what you have to do. They might also be setting unrealistic or fake deadlines. That’s because they don’t have an overview of your tasks. It could also be because they’re not letting you see the big picture of why a certain deadline is urgent. Both of these are direct results of major communication and alignment issues in the workplace.

If you’ve eliminated all the previous reasons as the source of your problem, then know that it’s the management’s fault you’re not meeting your deadlines.

If you can't pinpoint another reason, then it's the management's fault. #DeadlinesClick To Tweet

Have you pinpointed which of these is the reason you keep missing your deadlines? Great! Now check out our ultimate guide to meeting deadlines.

What’s your experience like with deadlines? Let us know in the comments below.

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