Not the best business plan ever. No one has ever gotten a job or a raise from over-promising and under-performing.
I get it. You want people to like you. You want people to admire you. You don’t want to give them bad news or be mad at you. You’re super optimistic about what you can get done. All sorts of reasons that we might over-promise. So what do you do? You soften the news. At home it’s, “Ok babe. I’ll be ready to go in five minute!.” As you’re standing there in your unmentionables still deciding what to wear and in desperate need of a shower. (Don’t judge me, you’ve all done this. I’ve done it three times this week already.)
In a work situation it’s, “I’ll have this project to you in…um…three days. Yes, three days. For sure.” Then when you get it to them in a week they’ve probably been blowing up your inbox or phone, have lost confidence in you and (the absolute WORST) are disappointed in you. UGH.
Unless three days is actually feasible, why not be honest? “Listen, I’d love to have this to you in three days, but it’s going to take two weeks.“ Sure, they might be a little disappointed that you’re not going to have it in three days. But watch their eyes light up when you get it to them in one week.
Wouldn’t you say that eye lighting up is SO much better than sighs of disappointment? Here are a few tips to keep this from happening.
Keep track of outstanding projects. Find a way to keep them at the top of your mind. Post-it notes all over your desk, writing on your hand, a handy dandy file right in your face. Something. Don’t let it get lost in everything you do day to day.
Are you overwhelmed? Go to your superior or talk to someone about your workload. It’s possible (read: probable) that they can help you, offer you good advice or give you the kick in the rear you need to get going.
Be realistic. Listen, we all have multiple balls we’re juggling. We’re all human and things are going to happen. But the one thing that we can do is to stop over-promising is to just be realistic. You may want to have that project done in three days, but unless you work all night it’s not going to happen. Make sure you factor in everything that may hinder your progress. Be realistic.
Under-promising and over-performing, that’s the goal. You CAN do this! Keep track of projects, ask for help and for goodness sake above all, be realistic about what you can actually get done. Let’s all take a few seconds and vow to stop this madness. (Though to be honest, I’m probably not going to stop telling my husband I’ll be ready in five minutes. We can’t all be perfect.)