Deadlines seem to be made to be broken anymore. It seems that people in general react to them by missing them altogether or by meeting them only after placing everyone within firing range of their stressful panic to meet them in the nick of time! Either way, it usually induces negative feelings.
For a generation of people who have every convenience to make our workloads lighter, we seem to be more hampered than people of the past when it comes to using time efficiently. Maybe that’s a natural progression since everything electronic seems to operate at lightning speeds. So, why worry that something might not meet a deadline? The problem, however, is not technology, but the human factor! We are not a button push sequence of actions. Every action we may take has countless ties to emotions, memories, experiences both good and bad. Perhaps that is the variable which causes people to miss deadlines. Then again, with so many choices given to us by way of the internet, we may excuse missing a deadline, thinking there will always be something else that offers us a second chance.
I think the idea of hard-line deadlines went out the window for me when the military officer husband of one of my teachers was informed that he had to give his men a 24-hour warning that a “surprise inspection” was going to be made. Just what was the surprise about that? This was the start of the newer, more understanding military. It did and does give me reason to pause and question the point of it all.
Just a couple of days ago, Hawaii suffered a scare by receiving a warning of an incoming ballistic missile threat. Residents were told it was not a test, but the real deal. It took hours for the error to be corrected. The conclusion of the matter was: our government entities were not sufficiently prepared to meet such an emergency situation.
As a child in public school during the 1950s, I rehearsed over and over the required bomb threat drills. None of us had trouble knowing exactly where to go, what to do, and how to do it! We had it drilled into our heads that time was of the essence. We knew that in such an event, there was a deadline to escape certain death. None of us questioned that fact.
Maybe we need to fix the failure to meet deadlines in our society by actually saying “No,” when people plead with us to excuse them. If we hold a solid line, sooner or later they will get the message that there is no grace period. Sure, they will call us names, they will strike out in anger, but they will learn that a deadline means business. Will it work?
I give you this example which has been true at Lawton Academy for about eighteen years now. Mrs. Smith, Mr. Johnson and I leave for a field trip exactly when we say we will. We have left one or two behind…but only once. They usually learn the lesson the first time. We also set a hard line on returning students to school when we say we will return. Only an extreme emergency ever prevents us meeting that deadline. And, in such an event, we contact parents immediately and tell them the new deadline.
Guess what…it works! Kay