I recently learned a painful lesson about the cost of procrastination (and the power of sticking to deadlines!)…and it involved a $50 minute. I am a bookkeeper by occupation and I needed to file a certain form by midnight on July 18th. We had been extremely busy getting ready for our fishing adventures and the time period for filing the form fell within that trip.
Once we got home from fishing (which ended up being later than planned due to a wildfire holding up traffic) I worked frantically to gather up the information needed in the report. My fingers flew over my keyboard as I watched the clock and typed in the relevant information.
I was sweating, shaking, and feeling a bit sick (I know, that sounds over-the-top!). I knew that if I didn’t get the report filed on time that it would cost money. I pushed myself and thought maybe, just maybe, I’d get that last part filled out in time.
I hurriedly checked my work and clicked submit. One look at the clock showed that I had gone past my deadline by one minute. It was 12:00 am on July 19th.
My report was late.
As mad as I was at myself for not getting the work done earlier, I thought perhaps I’d skate by with no fine. Maybe because I was so close to the deadline, they’d let it slide.
You know that feeling when you’ve messed something up that could have easily been avoided? That sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach? That’s how I felt. I had let myself down. And I had let other people down who were relying on me.
A Minute Worth $50.
The next day I did receive notification that a fine had been assessed due to my tardy report. My procrastination cost me $50.
I determined that even though it was $50 that I hadn’t planned on spending and $50 that I didn’t want to pay, that I would learn from my experience! There’s no reason to make the same mistake twice!
Here are some action items that will help me (and you!) from repeating my mistake:
Know Your Deadline
Look ahead at your upcoming projects and make note of any that have definitive deadlines. Anything that has a due-by date needs to be put on your calendar. Set reminders for yourself so you are not surprised on the day that an important project is due. You don’t want to be stuck at the office or working until midnight trying to frantically finish something that could have been done before.
Treat Deadlines Seriously
Even if your tardiness on completing a project won’t result in a fine, treat every deadline seriously. If you’ve agreed to a certain time parameter , stick to it! Be a person who can be counted on to keep your word!
Make Deadlines for Undefined Projects
Sometimes there are projects on our to-do lists that don’t have a specified deadline. Maybe they should! Look over your list and see if there are projects that have been sitting on it and which aren’t getting the attention they deserve. Even if it’s just re-organizing the pantry, cleaning out the car or putting away the children’s clothes they’ve grown out of, make it have a deadline. You’ll find that you’re much more likely to do something if you give yourself a time limit.
Prepare Ahead of Time
When you’re going to be up against a deadline, it’s nice to have the prep work done in advance. If I had properly executed this step, I wouldn’t have been left frantically attempting to gather information for my report as the minutes ticked by and my deadline grew closer. Get together supplies, information, babysitters, lists, whatever it is that your project requires, and have it all on hand before starting your project.
Tell me what your strategy is for meeting deadlines in a timely manner. Have you ever found yourself in a situation like I did? Let me know in the comments and then please share this article on your favorite social media!