Be Specific With Your Promise Timelines

Trees and SkyAs I get further along into my professional and personal life I realize the importance of being specific with certain things. I know I can’t be the only one to find that when we give a vague timeline for a promise that we really are hedging our bets.

We might say, Yep I’ll do that soon…, and leave it at that. It’s vague. We do it on purpose without even really knowing it. It’s because we don’t really want to do it or it’s not a high priority.

I find it better to be specific with promises. Even if that means saying, no.  That can be difficult too. There are some of us that like to make people happy. Even if it’s for the short-term. That’s where a vague promise can come in handy. We feel like we make them happy, but then down the road we let them down if we don’t do it. Or we push aside our own priorities or other obligations to get it done. And then we probably don’t do a great job with it.

And it works in the business world too. A coworker or boss asks something. We give a vague timeline. Or maybe they give a vague timeline. That can lead to frustration and poor work and it can be detrimental to the business.

You used to see it in the music world all the time. David Geffen once joked that the record business would be a great business without the artists. Obviously he loved and appreciated the artists, but a major point of contention in the business is record release timelines.

Artists want to create when inspiration strikes. They want vague timelines for delivering music. Those on the business side need to keep things moving at a consistent pace. So they set deadlines for new music and push the artists. It’s a necessary frustration for all involved.

Figure out if you’re setting vague timelines at work and even in your personal life. Determine if you can figure out better timelines. Even if you need to look at your calendar and commitments. Specific timelines work for everybody even if you need to possibly let someone down.

But really I find that people don’t care how long something takes. As long as it’s within reason. As long as they know what to expect and know that they can count on you. That’s what matters.

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