Become the Tax Man: Groom Your Self-Discipline with Deadlines

~ Originally published on Say “Alaka‘i” April 2009 ~
Become the Tax Man: Groom Your Self-Discipline with Deadlines


Don't panic!

One of the self-coaching mantras I find managers in my coaching programs will quickly adopt is this one:

“We’re not command and control freaks; our deadlines do that for us.”

They adopt it for two reasons:

  1. Managers hate to be thought of as command and direct control freaks. If they fall into that behavior by default or necessity something is wrong, and though they might not admit to it out loud, they know it’s wrong and needs to be fixed.
  2. They understand that grooming a discipline with meeting self-imposed deadlines is fabulous with boosting their own productivity and that of their organizational culture as a whole.

Think of what happens when you have a deadline coming up: One that nearly everyone shares right now is filing our annual income tax forms with Uncle Sam by April 15th and with the State of Hawai‘i by April 20th. Think of how everything else these first two weeks of April falls away as non-essential or less than the day’s priority until the time you file them.

This posting is case in point: Yesterday was my “before today or we’re filing an extension this year” deadline for getting all of my inputs to the CPA I trust to do the form choosing, filling and computing for me. Made my morning deadline sending all to him at 10pm the night before, and one consequence of my waiting until then, was that this post is more than nine hours later than I usually would have it waiting for you each Thursday” I didn’t do that well in meeting my deadline after all.

I chose to get a good night’s sleep instead. You are all very good to me, and most of you will totally understand, empathizing with me and feeling that this blog post being late is no biggie. Am I content with that? Nope; I feel I screwed up, and that sleeping was selfish.

Now you.

— Think about how you feel when you meet your deadline ”“ or joy of all joys you are actually early with it!

— Think of how you feel when you are late ”“ or when you suspect you may have disappointed someone else depending on you to meet your deadline so that they can meet theirs.

The Tax Man doesn’t tie much emotion into it at all; he just expects us to pay penalties and interest. Do managers levy come kind of penalty and interest when deadlines are not met at work? They should” chances are customers would be happier, co-workers would be happier, relationships might flow much more smoothly in a bunch of other circumstances because essentially, when a deadline is met, an agreement has been kept.

So, to keep your agreements, set a deadline connected to it, and meet that deadline.

To keep your agreements with a flourish, set a deadline earlier than necessary, and meet that deadline instead.

To improve your personal productivity, set those agreements with yourself, and become your own Tax Man.

Let’s talk story:

  • Do you have good self-discipline with deadlines? If so, share your tips with us!
  • As a manager and leader, do you feel comfortable setting some kind of ‘penalties and interest’ in your workplace when deadlines are not met? Why not? What would it take to have it accepted well?
  • Why do you think ‘penalties and interest’ are necessary in the first place, whatever form they might take?

Photo credit: don't panic! by hufse.

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