How to Meet Every Deadline

We live in a deadline-driven world. But sometimes, even with firm deadlines, one simple trick is all it takes to relieve the pressure. Get-It-Done Guy explains.

Stever Robbins
4-minute read
Episode #335

When I was just getting started as an executive coach, I wanted a publicist to make me rich and famous (that’s how little I knew about publicists at the time). The one I wanted was Amy Logan.

“Please take me as a client!” I pleaded.

“You are no one. You are not newsworthy,” she replied.

“But someday I’m going to have this great podcast, and be manager in a store that features fictional carnivorous plants, and have my own a zombie Musical (at worklessanddomore.com)!”

“Well, then,” she said, “that’s different! I’ll start working today. Just send me the first month’s check immediately.”

I rushed to my checkbook, wrote the check, and dropped it in the mail. A week later, she called, furious. “I knew you were scum!” she declared. “I’ve been working for a week and still no check.” Yes, friends, the check actually got lost in the mail. Who knew that was a real thing? “I’ll send a new check immediately!" I pleaded. "And a slice of Oreo Ice Cream cake!”

“Are you trying to fatten me up for one of your schemes?” she asked, suspiciously, “Besides, Oreo Ice Cream cake will melt on its way here.”

Oops. Wrong offer. Now I was in a full-on panic. “No,” I said, “No Oreo Ice Cream cake. I’ll…I’ll…I’ll send two checks!”

Wait a minute. The sun broke through the clouds. Animated birds began to chirp. That was actually a good idea. I sent Amy two checks: one to cash immediately and one to keep. If any of my future checks didn’t arrive, Amy would immediately cash the one she had in reserve. Then we would have a whole month to find the lost check and replace the reserve check for the future.

And with this simple almost career-destroying move, I discovered the amazing power of paying extra in advance.>

Paying in Advance Removes Pressure from Everyone

When you send in a payment in reserve, it removes all the time pressure from you. If you’re late with a future payment, they just use the reserve payment, which you then replenish. If you’re no good at remembering payment deadlines (and let’s face it, they call them “dead” lines for a reason), this changes a life of stress into a life of milk, honey, and zombies. What could be better?

You’re not the only one who benefits. The person you’re paying also benefits because now they control their own cash flow. If you’re a few days late with this month’s check, it’s not a financial disaster for them. They cash the reserve check on the date they need payment. Everyone gets their needs for sloth, laziness, sloppiness, and precision met in one simple maneuver.

See also: How to Use Deadlines to Make Life Better


This also saves wear and tear on the relationship. Without the reserve check, any time I was late with a payment, Amy would have had to play Bill Collector. No, not the naughty version that you played after playing Doctor as a budding adolescent. This is grown-up bill collector. Clothes stay on and interest accrues on late payments. Much less fun.

With a payment in reserve, Amy could say “publicist,” I could stay “client,” and we could establish a good working relationship that has become a near-perfect friendship. The only thing that could make it more perfect is if she changes her daughter’s name to “Stever.”

Are you listening, Amy? I think little Cristina would like that.


About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins was the host of the podcast Get-it-Done Guy from 2007 to 2019. He is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT.