A deadline is a time limit and usually imposed to ensure a project is completed in a timely manner. Missing a deadline always has consequences.
Failure to deliver a manuscript on time could mean either a delay in publication or rejection. Failure to send in a poem by the competition’s deadline means the poet forfeits their entry fee and their poem will be disqualified. Failure to fit a carpet on time leaves a customer with furniture stacked in the wrong place, the problem of accommodating a new fitting appointment in an already full schedule and knock-on problems in completing the project. Hence no blog post on 31 October.
There’s also (a probably unintended) consequence… Missing a deadline doesn’t just cause delays and headaches but also suggests a lack of respect for the person who either set or needed a project completing by the deadline.
• How valued a customer did I feel when the carpet fitters failed to fit their carpet?
• How valued does an editor feel if you miss their deadline?
• How professional do you look?
The carpet fitters have lost a customer. The problem wasn’t the faulty carpet, although that was annoying, but the way the problem was dealt with. Promising to call and then failing to do so and leaving a customer chasing a response is never good. Dealing with each issue as a one-off instead of seeing the cumulative effect of a chain of problems is how to lose customers.
Relying on others to have a Plan B in case of your tardiness is not a professional way to behave.
If it’s unavoidable, as soon as you know you can’t meet a deadline, get in touch and explain why and show that you’ve thought about the consequences so can suggest ways of mitigating the problem.
There are occasions where unforeseen events will get in the way of meeting a deadline, but the more notice you can give, the better. Leaving it until the day of the deadline, or worse, waiting for the deadline to pass and letting your customer or editor chase you up, doesn’t inspire confidence and you may find doors start closing.
By Emma Lee