Getting better at estimating how long tasks will take is a skill that develops as you gain more experience in your career, especially when working with a team or company for a long time. However, even with careful planning, unexpected challenges can pop up, causing delays and potentially missing deadlines.

A Common Approach: Finish It at All Costs

When faced with a deadline, the first solution many of us consider is to work extra hours or through the weekend. We might think that failing to complete the task on time means we’ve let others down, broken a promise, or even fear it could reflect negatively on our next performance review.

But this strategy, even if it helps in the short term, isn’t healthy and leads to several problems:

  1. Higher Chances of Mistakes: Rushing to finish and working without enough rest increases the likelihood of errors. I’m sure that most people will create more bugs when they haven’t had a good night’s sleep compared to those who have.
  2. Reduced Quality and Higher Costs: To meet deadlines, we might skip necessary steps such as writing good tests, doing enough manual testing, or making quick fixes that don’t align with the project’s overall design. These “technical debts” can lead to potential problems and costs in the future.
  3. Missed Learning Opportunities: Failing to meet an estimate is a chance to learn and improve. However, if we just work longer hours without discussing the issue with the team, we miss out on this learning. Plus, it sets unrealistic expectations for future projects, leaving us in a similar situation again.

A Better Strategy: Communicate

The most effective way to handle these situations is to talk to your team or project manager as soon as you realize the task might not meet the deadline. This could be during a daily check-in, a message, or the next scheduled meeting. Communicate the challenges clearly and make sure everyone understands the situation.

Next steps can include:

  1. Adjusting the Plan: The manager may agree to extend the deadline once they understand the situation, allowing you to complete the work without undue stress.
  2. Addressing Immediate Deadlines: If the deadline can’t be moved, you can discuss the issues highlighted earlier (like the risk of errors and lower quality) to help decide the best course of action together.


Meeting deadlines is important, but we should also think about how our choices affect things in the long run. Trying to finish things fast or working too hard might seem like good ideas at first, but they can lead to more mistakes, lower-quality work, and missed chances for the team to learn and grow.

Talking openly about any problems and being clear about delays help make a better work environment and lead to a more lasting way of managing projects.

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