Deadlines drive our behavior!

They tell us to make the deadline. They don’t tell us to be early.

As long as we aren’t late, everything is okay, right?

Would it be better to be early?

Is the goal to be Not Late?

If we don’t want to be late, we want to be Not Late.

If we want to be Not Late, our mindset is to aim for the due date.

The due date becomes a deadline. We work hard to meet our deadlines. With this mindset, does early have much chance? Imagine a relay race team whose intention is to be not late!

Do projects need to be completed on a specific date or is it okay if they are early?

If meeting the deadline is considered 100% successful, why would being earlier be needed? 110% successful does not have a meaning for a deadline.

Is it more important for a project to be Not Late than to be early?


How to be 110% Successful

Dates promote a sense of urgency. They get us more focused than without a date.

That’s what dates and deadlines do.

Deadlines must not be exceeded. We make sure we meet them by having enough time. Or more correctly by having “more than enough time”.

With more than enough time, there is often time to do other things we need to do. If we do other things in the same timeframe we are meeting our deadline, we are multitasking. Multitasking makes all these things of slower and increases the probability that we will miss the deadline. This leads to thinking we should have allowed more time to meet the deadline.


A lack of time allowed did not have anything to do with missing the deadline. We put too much on our plate and the main course slid off. A bigger plate would probably hold more things and we give us the same situation.

You may look like a hero with a huge plateful, but unsuccessful heroes are not trusted.

Put one thing (task) on your plate. Have a small plate for a sense of focus and urgency and get the task done!


Project management tools have tremendous capability to collect vast amounts of date data and process and report it in any way imaginable. Doing so does not help get the project done. The sense of date importance is thus enhanced making deadline management critical to project management.


Critical Chain takes a different approach. A short duration task gives a sense of urgency. We won’t have time to do anything else but this task. The due date is a deadline that focuses us on getting it done. Since the task duration is short, we may not meet the deadline. That gets us to focus on this task. It is important that there is no penalty for missing the deadline. People would refuse to participate if they have a 50% chance of being punished. Knowing you have only one thing to work on takes pressure off and replaces it with a challenge. It’s even acceptable to not tell them the due date as long as they work diligently on the one task until it’s complete.


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