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Know Your Deadlines

Someone wants you to do something big, so what’s the first thing you do? Plan to make your decision. It’s always worth taking the time to pause and think before you jump in with a decision. The time appreciation is a method of giving you the space to think things through. 


The Time Appreciation

The Time Appreciation – is a mental tool for working out how long you can take over your decision.

This is the first thing you have to consider, is it urgent, do you have a deadline? If there’s no deadline then set yourself a reasonable one or things will drift. What is your deadline?  Obviously, you are not going to be doing this in a time of crisis or emergency, like jumping out of the path of a bus.  You should have at least a few minutes in which to decide. If someone is pressing you for an instant answer, then they probably know the answer they want and it’s unlikely to be a good one for you.

What’s the scope of the task?  How big a job is this going to be?

Who else is involved?  Is it something you can do on your own?  How many other people do you have to work with?  If other people are going to have to go away and do their bit then the Rule of Thirds can help you. Put aside one third of the total time for you to make your decision and two thirds is for everyone else to do their bit.

What resources do you have?  What have you got that will be of use to you? 

Working back from the deadline you know how much time you have to do the things that need to be done immediately.   

Now you know how long you’ve got to decide, it’s time to work out what to do. 

Project managers work on a Q / (T x C) equation. The quality of what they deliver is a function of time and cost. Cut the time or cost and the quality goes down too. The same applies to decisions. Time and resources (cost) govern to some extent the decision quality (ok, flashes of inspiration don’t count, they’re the rare exception). 

Then you have to let people know what’s coming. The warning order – telling your colleagues what’s coming, should consist of the following things:

  • Plan, a quick sentence about what the job is
  • Outline, a brief description of what you’re going to do
  • Objective, a short description of what you will achieve
  • No move before, how urgent it is, how soon they have to start getting ready
  • H-Hour, when things really have to happen
  • Admin, any obvious housekeeping details that have to be in place  

The point of all this is to pace your decision making and not leap to conclusions if you can spare the time and resources (brains) to think it all through. Sometime you have to act quickly so let's now look at the quick decision.

The Quick Decision