Meeting Unreasonable Deadlines: What to Do When Your Boss Asks for the Impossible

Meeting Unreasonable Deadlines: What to Do When Your Boss Asks for the Impossible

Everyone has had a boss who asks for the impossible. You know the type – they're always looking for ways to 'improve efficiency' and 'get more done in less time.' But what they really want is for you to complete an impossible task in an unreasonably short amount of time. So, what do you do when confronted with an unrealistic deadline?

There are a few things you can do when your boss hands down an unreasonable deadline. First, try to negotiate a realistic timeline. If your boss is asking you to complete a project in two weeks that would normally take two months, be honest and explain that it's not possible to do a quality job in that timeframe. Suggest a more reasonable timeline, such as four weeks, and offer to work overtime or on weekends to make up the difference.

If your boss is unwilling to budge on the timeline, your next best option is to delegate. If you have a team working under you, see if there are any tasks that can be delegated to them in order to free up some of your time. You may also want to consider hiring a freelancer or outside contractor to help with the workload. Just be sure to communicate clearly with whoever you're delegating tasks to so that they understand what is expected of them.

And finally, if all else fails, get started on the task and do the best you can given the circumstances. It's better to complete an imperfect job on time than miss the deadline entirely. Just be sure to document everything along the way so that you can go back and make improvements later.

No one likes being given an impossible task with an unreasonable deadline. But if it happens, there are some steps you can take in order to mitigate the damage. Try negotiating with your boss for a more realistic timeline, delegate tasks whenever possible, and document everything as you go. And if all else fails, just do the best you can and remember that it's not perfect – but at least it's done!