Why we miss deadlines and how to avoid getting into this bad habit

14 Mar 2018

It happens almost every term. Assignments are due and tight deadlines are giving you sleepless nights as you race to put something together.

How did this happen? You had a plan right? You knew that the assignments were due for weeks or even months, and had perfectly structured your plan of execution.

However, now you are up in the early hours of the morning, gulping down coffee and frantically piecing together something, anything, to ensure that you get the grade.

Of course, some of us struggle more than others when it comes to this, but interestingly - it may not be completely your fault. Your brain actually may be partly to blame for missing those deadlines.
You see, as humans, we often have a tendency to underestimate the length of time that it may take to complete a task. This results in us looking to blame external factors for the failure to meet a deadline, instead of reassessing our ability to plan properly.

The problem is, when you start formulating your plan, the deadline is normally a mile away which tends to influence how you think about it. The realistic side of things only starts to kick in closer to the time, when we finally decide to roll up our sleeves and get started.

One of the simplest reasons for failing to meet a deadline is the inability to plan for any hurdles. At no point in your planning do you add in time for potential problems and this could derail your entire attempt to get things done in time.

Now, you may be thinking that it is then pointless to focus on deadlines and achieving them, but you would be wrong. You see, there is a motivation factor behind deadlines that actually encourage you to get something done. Simplified, it means that if you have an endless amount of time to finish something, you will take an endless amount of time to do so.

How to Meet Your Deadlines

There are a few tweaks that you can make to change your approach to deadlines though. Firstly, pack the start of your week - this way, it forces you to get started early and gives you enough of a buffer in case things end up stretching out.

You should also change the deadline to a few days earlier for yourself - as an earlier due date will have the same effect on your mind set, while still giving you an extra few days.

Technology can also assist, as a planning app can be loaded with reminders which will ensure that you are never caught by surprise.
Ultimately, there are various reasons why we miss deadlines, but you can make a change today to ensure that going forward, you learn to love them rather than loathe them.