The familiar word “deadline” had ominous beginnings when first coined back in the late 1800s. As with many business words we use today, this word stemmed out of war. In Andersonville, Georgia, a prison camp for Federal prisoners of war was constructed. This camp was come to be known as Camp Sumpter. The camp was the largest confederate prison camp constructed during the Civil War.
The walls were constructed of pine logs of staggering height. Along the wall, stood look-out towers for the confederate soldiers to keep an eye on the captured prisoners. Located approximately 19 feet from the wall was a small fence row. This fence was far enough from the wall to prevent someone from scaling over or tunneling under the camp walls. This smaller fence was considered the “deadline.” If a prisoner crossed this literal deadline, he was shot by the confederate soldiers keeping watch in the towers.
Surprisingly, deadlines can be a powerful tool in productivity. Deadlines are simply a timeline for which to finish a project or task. When you (or another agency) have assigned a deadline to a task, you understand when it needs to be finished. This allows you to prioritize certain projects. If you don’t have a deadline on a certain chore, it tends to slip further back into the proverbial “pile”. This is where the power of deadlines takes place! When you create deadlines for certain tasks, you are assigning a ranking for each task. This allows you to stay focused on a certain project because you know that time is of the essence.
Your project deadline doesn’t sound so bad now, does it? This may be why deadlines are always imposed with a negative connotation. Deadlines are a necessary evil, whether self-imposed or not.