We’re all guilty of it.
I’ll call you tomorrow.
I’ll send that to you on Thursday.
I’ll reach out next week.
Inevitably tomorrow, Thursday and next week pass, all without us doing what we said we were going to do.
It’s not that we’re lying per se. We are just communicating what we are going to do under ideal circumstances. Most times, we are not operating under ideal circumstances. We are operating in a life full of delays, interruptions and unplanned emergencies. And so the things we said we would do, don’t get done.
It’s an overestimation of our own abilities. And while it’s something many people are guilty of, it’s something you can change. The key is giving yourself a buffer.
It’s always easier to do what you say you are going to do when you actually give yourself more than enough time to do it.
That means, if somebody asks you to send them something, give yourself a cushion. If you think you can get it to them on Thursday, tell them Friday. Give your clients a time and strive to beat that.
It’s not news that it’s always better to surprise and delight your clients than constantly disappoint.
If you offer a timeline for when you can deliver something and your client wants it sooner, they will push back on their own. There is no need to pre-shorten your timeline. Why give yourself extra stress that nobody else has imposed on you?
Some people need tight deadlines and unrealistic expectations to be productive. This article isn’t for those people.
This is for the people who get caught up in the trap of thinking the faster they can deliver something, the better it is for their client. Faster is not always better, especially if faster isn’t even a reality to begin with.
And of course don’t go the opposite way and give yourself a ridiculously long time to accomplish your task. Just give yourself room to grow, evolve, and delight your clients.
Managing expectations is a phrase that gets tossed around a lot referring to how businesses treat their clients. But really, what’s more important is to manage your own expectations first, so that you can more accurately and respectfully manage your clients expectations and thereby be better at doing what it is you do.