Top 10 Qualities Of Effective Teachers: #6: Understand Deadlines And Milestones

Top 10 Qualities Of Effective Teachers: #6: Understand Deadlines And Milestones


Mediocre teachers look to others to set deadlines and goals for them. Star teachers are experts at implementing deadlines and achieving milestones.

Deadlines: Handle with Care

To be fair to those who hate deadlines, most people handle them poorly: the near-universal tendency is to underestimate the time things will take. Even with a deadline that obviously should be easy to meet, most people figure, “I have plenty of time for that,” and delay starting until the deadline becomes painfully tight.

So when creating deadlines for children—or yourself—consider not only the time the whole project “should” take, but every individual step along the way, plus the likelihood of unforeseen circumstances slowing things up. It’s a very common mistake to allow just enough time for the best-case scenario, which happens maybe one time in ten.

Here are some other things to remember—and share with your kids—about deadlines:

  • No matter how far in the future the deadline lies, do something the day the project is assigned. Even just writing into your calendar “make a full schedule” or “place a library hold on the books I’ll need” helps get momentum going while the idea is fresh; longer waits invariably mean harder starts.
  • Always break a project into to-do steps early on, and schedule the steps separately. This not only allows for more effective work overall, but gives you a clearer picture of the time you’ll really
  • Find some way to make progress every day or week. Again, it doesn’t matter how long you’ve still got; the final result is best when you keep momentum up the whole way.
  • Think of the deadline as a friend, not an enemy. It’s not there to taunt you with the impossibility of getting things done, but to help ensure they do get done.


Any deadline more than two weeks ahead deserves acknowledgment of key milestones along the way. It doesn’t matter how you celebrate—a piece of chocolate, a walk in the park, lunch with friends, a self-congratulations on social media—so long as you feel adequately rewarded to keep progress moving.

A few notes about milestones:

  • Keep the reward proportional to the achievement. If you treat yourself to a five-star dinner when you’ve found all the research material you need, everything else—including completion of the full project—will become an anticlimax.
  • Share your joy with friends and other contacts. Their congratulations will provide additional momentum.
  • Never neglect a milestone because “I haven’t accomplished that much yet.” The final goal would be nothing without its parts.

Follow these hints, and your goals will start coming to fruition with remarkable speed!