I tell my two girls all the time that, more than anything else, I hate a liar.

Lie to me. The ultimate secret to deadline success.

That’s a lie.


There is a time and place for lying in the workplace — deadlines.

I hate being lied to, but I encouraged every managing editor I ever worked with (and they learned to do this anyway for sanity self-preservation reasons) to lie to me about deadlines. I have a nodding acquaintance with time management — I’ve read a few of the books (Time Power, Seven Habits, Eat That Frog, and more). However, I haven’t fully taken them on board. I was, and am, generally on time. When I edited a print magazine, we rarely missed our time slot to be on press (and other than once, the times we did had more to do with advertising-required shuffling than with editorial being late).

This was due to the power of lying.

My managing editors lied to me: they’d give me false dates for when I needed things to our designers and then when we needed to turn blue lines around for the printer.

I lied to my writers: I NEVER gave someone the real deadline. This works for a few reasons:

  1. If they actually deliver on time, you can get ahead of schedule (a heady feeling).
  2. If someone needed a little extra time; you could be graceful and magnanimous, building goodwill with contributors.
  3. When everything went smoothly, you came in BEFORE DEADLINE, which always makes you look good to your boss (or at least your co-workers).
  4. OK, I lied about “Never” giving a real deadline. There is a caveat: there were times when I had an editorial hole to fill and really did need something quickly. During those times, you have to be blunt and truthful — if you need something in 48 hours (not just would like it inthat time); then you’ve gotta say. And also be prepared to move along if someone can’t deliver. You save yourself a lot of pain and agony with a firm no from a writer than a squishy yes.

Creative Self-Deception

For this lying to be truly useful, you also need to master the art of believing the deadline lie yourself as well.

You need to be able to sound truthful when lying to your writers. You also have to fool yourself into believing the false deadline yourself so that you react with the needed sense of urgency.

I’ve read before that the mark of true intelligence is to be able to hold two contradictory thoughts in your head at once (or was that the definition of insanity?)  Anyway, I digress, the point is you have to convince yourself that you need to meet the early deadline while knowing that you’ve got a little room to meet the “real deadline.”

Soooo, This Relates to Content Marketing How . . . ?

For all of us involved in content marketing, deadlines are a necessary evil. It’s easy to fall into the rut of “it’s on the Web, deadline-smeadline.” Though that can work sometimes; marketing campaigns (as you know) have a rhythm similar to print. It’s obvious, but I’m going to say it anyway, you have to schedule your content production or it won’t happen.

For content marketing, this is a bad thing. 

So in the midst of a the social business revolution that suggests openness and honesty with customers and co-workers; there’s still room for the lie.

Just keep it limited to the deadlines.

Lying about your products and offerings is still a bad idea.


  1. I keep the clock in the bedroom set 30 minutes fast. i know it’s a lie, but it’s worked for decades. I often get up at 4:40 and I couldn’t bear to see those digits in the clock.


    1. I’ve never been able to master the art of lying to myself about time. When it comes to the extra sleep, especially, truth shatters the self-deception.

      And, egads Dan, that sounds horrible. 4:40!


      1. I leave for work at 6:00. So, if I want to rife the bike for 30-40 minutes, that’s what I have to do. The deal I made with my wife is, if I ride the night before, I can sleep in. I can’t sleep in and say “I’ll ride tonight” because I often don’t.


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