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deadline
Adrian Granzella Larssen serves as editor-in-chief of The Daily Muse, and having worked as a writer and an editor, she has a lot of experience with missed deadlines. Sooner or later, we all mess up, and whether it’s due to illness, someone else’s error, or our own mismanagement of time, it’s essential to fix the situation and move forward. In a great post titled “What to Do When You Know You’re Going to Miss a Deadline,” Larssen offers five tips that just might save the day. Read on to see what this career expert suggests.

1. Give Some Notice — In many cases, you’ll know ahead of time you’re not going to make a deadline. Whenever possible, give the folks depending on you as much warning as possible. If you fess up early, people can work around the issue, and they’ll be more inclined to grant you that extension you’re hoping for.

2. Offer a Brief Explanation — While it’s professional and advisable to explain why you’re handing something in late, the key is to keep it succinct. No one wants to read three paragraphs about your sick goldfish or — worse yet — the 10 other assignments that kept you from finishing this one. Also, don’t pass the blame to someone else.

3. Present Options and/or Bonuses — When you think you’re going to miss a deadline, you might start with an offer like, “I can buckle down, stay up super late,¬†and¬†finish this tonight, but if it wouldn’t completely sink the project, I’d love another 24 hours.” Another strategy is to offer up part of what’s due — the first 10 pages of a 20-page report, say. Lastly, you might try to save face by offering a bonus, like two reports instead of one.

4. Be Professional and Appreciative — Without getting too effusive, tell the person how much you appreciate his or her understanding, and once you set a new deadline, make sure you stick to it.

5. Don’t Make It a Habit — The more you ask for extensions and favors, the harder it will be to get them. Ultimately, you want to be seen as someone who’s reliable and easy to work with — not a giant question mark who may or may not deliver the goods.