How to smartly ask for a deadline extension
Do you often find your tasks at work spiralling out of control? Constant distractions are a part of your job and a nagging boss who will never compromise on unrealistic timelines? Unfortunately, we’ve all been there!
Sure you can learn how to multitask effectively amidst interruptions and stay on top of your work. But what do you do when a deadline is looming and you desperately need an extension? Here are a few smart hacks to approach your boss for an extension without too many hard feelings or losing trust.
Have visibility on your to-do-list
First things first, clear your untidy workstation, desktop, and laptop to avoid any delays in the future. Prepare a to-do-list and create processes to ensure that important tasks don't slip through the cracks. To stay on top of your work, remind yourself what really needs to get done. Post the to-do-list in a noticeable spot and rank it by priority. Color code or highlight the most important tasks and make sure you set aside enough time to address them.
Make sure you avoid distractions like loud phones and noisy colleagues to get multiple tasks done efficiently. To be able to meet critical deadlines and manage expectations after asking for an extension you need to have a feasible work environment that helps you meet your goals.
Raise an early alarm
The moment you know you can’t meet a deadline report it to your boss - please don’t procrastinate! Remember - waiting until the last moment reflects poorly on your planning skills and this won’t earn you any extra brownie points. Be forthright and take the problem and an agreeable solution to your boss at the earliest possible time. The more time they have to prepare, the better. Failing to meet a deadline can have a ripple effect on several other deliverables your boss is working on and may reflect poorly if you wait until the last minute to ask for an extension.
Set a reasonable deadline
The next important step is to plan backwards and decide upon a reasonable and doable new deadline. For instance - you might just need an extra day, so email and ask for 24 hours but when those 24 hours pass you realise that if you had another additional day you could make it that much better! You don’t want to be in this situation.
So, when you initially ask for more time, suggest an achievable new date. If you have a crazy week, don’t ask to push your deadline one day; ask if it would be possible to push it to the following week. But like negotiating anything else, if you end up meeting in the middle you still have more breathing room than if you gave yourself just one day.
Show the larger picture
Show that you've thought about the task from every aspect. Discuss concerns with your boss if you feel that they need to be more considerate in setting deadlines or you notice a pattern that is time-consuming but consistently taken for granted. To support this please gather statistics about how missed deadlines affect clients and striving to meet impossible deadline hurt productivity. Throw out some ideas about how groups can work more effectively together to set win-win deadlines and what you can do to make some work processes more efficient.
Give yourself deadlines, and stick to them
Set an internal deadline for yourself – this can be a day prior to the actual deadline. As you would with a financial budget, budget your time to help you meet deadlines faster. It is true – successful professionals who thrive under deadlines even deliberately shorten their workday by 15 minutes to ensure optimum efficiency.