Timeline or Deadline? (reprise)


In the last blog entry I started looking at the difference between a Timeline and Deadline.

Side Note: If you happened to miss the last entry I would encourage you to take a look at it before you read on.

Today’s entry will make much more sense if you do… but then again, maybe not.  I can be pretty obtuse if I set my mind to it.


What started for me as an interesting dissection of two words has turned out to be a fascinating discovery of introspection and word origins.

In the last entry I mentioned that “these words symbolize more than just business or life tools.  The words denote and characterize a philosophy of life also.”

Let’s take a deeper dive into the word Deadline.

I ran across a wonderfully creative video about deadlines.  This is all done with small Post-it Notes.  Take a look.

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The video was a fun look at deadlines.

Deadlines… wow.  We are all bombarded with deadlines.  They motivate, sometimes paralyze, and always produce some level of stress.

Deadlines are imposed as an impetus for action.

We throw the term deadline around pretty casually.  In fact, in the purest sense, most deadlines are not really deadlines… they are just goals with a set time for accomplishment.

Here is a dictionary definition for deadline.

2 : a date or time before which something must be done

Did you notice the # 2 in front of the definition?  This is the secondary definition that reflects only society’s current usage, not the original meaning.

When I discovered the primary meaning it TOTALLY changed my perception and mindset regarding deadlines.

Instead of being used as a point to stimulate action… it was used as a caution before action.  The usage meant that the stakes were so high it in reality was a point of destiny not simple inconvenience or consequences.

The original definition is as follows:

1: a line drawn within or around a prison that a prisoner passes at the risk of being shot.

A deadline, is truly a line of death.

A true deadline is the point of no second chances.  It is the line, if missed, the project or opportunity is gone, dead.

There is no question that there are some legitimate deadlines in business and life.

If you think about it, most so called deadlines we face have some float or room for adjustment.

We have tossed it around so much that the casual use of the term has rendered it impotent of its original power and impact.

You want to know how casually we use deadlines?   Take a look at this e-card I found that you can send.



Side Note: I know, I know… the bullshit term bothered some of you.  I don’t like using it either but it sure nailed my point.

Hell, you would of used it too.  (sorry… I just had to do that)

I don’t know about you but I will be much more careful how I position a simple goal or milestone vs. a legitimate deadline.

Ciao, see you Thursday.

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One comment

  1. Hi, thanks for your comment. Yep, deadline carries a lot of baggage. It’s unfortunate because “deadline” does carry some weight that “timeline” doesn’t have. I have found that the term “critical milestones” helps bring weight to the timeline context.
    Thanks for reading the blog.

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