#304: Vocabulary for Deadlines and Time Management [+ FREE Worksheet]

Feb 21, 2024 | Advanced Vocabulary, Collocations (Vocabulary), Free Resource

Missed deadlines. Tight deadlines. Impossible deadlines. Or even worse — unknown deadlines.

Are you already feeling stressed? I am.

So let’s change that. This Confident English lesson today is going to do two things:

First, it’s going to reduce stress!

You’re going to learn the vocabulary English speakers use to talk about deadlines and time management in English, including phrasal verbs, idioms, and collocations.

We use these phrasal verbs and idioms for quick, clear, precise communication and to reduce the potential for miscommunication.

Knowing this vocabulary will make it easier for you to have clear English communication with your team, your boss, your friends, and loved ones when there is a deadline.


  • Tax filing
  • Event planning
  • Job application submissions
  • Homework
  • Project reports and deliverables

Second, this lesson introduces essential vocabulary with a clear step-by-step path you can follow in English conversations for talking about deadlines – starting with determining the timeframe to providing updates, managing time, and negotiating deadlines if necessary.

Clear English Conversations on Deadlines and Time Management | Advanced Vocabulary

Step 1: Determine & Understand Deadlines

Before working on a project, it’s crucial to be on the same page and ensure everyone involved understands the scope of the project, as well as the required deliverables. 

  • Def: to have the same amount of knowledge or to have the same understanding
  • Ex. I’d like to make sure we’re on the same page. So, let’s talk about the project in the upcoming meeting. 

This is especially true if you’re starting a project from scratch and don’t have much time. 

  • Def: to start from zero; to begin from a point at which nothing has been done or created yet.
  • Ex. We will need to build this new program from scratch and rethink what our clients value. 

When discussing project deadlines with a team, for example, you might start by creating a plan of action to ensure you’ve brainstormed the tasks that need to be completed, as well as the order in which to do them. 

  • Def: to break down a goal into actionable steps that can be easily followed and tracked
  • Ex. Before we move on, let’s create a plan of action for everyone to follow.

Creating a plan of action will also ensure you plan ahead for any tasks that could require more time. 

  • Def: to plan and make arrangements for something well in advance.
  • Ex. Luckily, we planned ahead and printed hard copies of the project details before the power outage. 


Once a plan of action is in place, you can focus on setting deadlines for each deliverable and the overall deadline for the project. 

  • Def: to decide on a date and/or time by which something must be completed.
  • Ex. Let’s set the deadline of the first proposal draft for next Thursday.
  • Def: a product/task to be provided, achieved, or completed, especially as part of a development process
  • Ex. Before we set a deadline, let’s review this project’s deliverables.

As you discuss deadlines, it may be necessary to ensure you fully understand the importance of each deadline. You could ask:

  • Could you confirm whether this is a firm deadline or a date we’re aiming for?
  • If we don’t finish X before the deadline, how will it affect Y?
  • Is there any flexibility with this deadline?
  • Compared to our other projects/tasks, is this project/task more urgent?

The answers to these questions will inform your decisions in the future, allow you to problem-solve, and aid in managing your projects if issues arise.

 Next, be sure to delegate or have clarity on the tasks and who will complete them.

To delegate tasks to others, you could use one of two phrases:

To head

  • Def: to be in a leading position; to direct
  • Ex. Emilia is heading this project and will provide further updates on Monday. 
  • Ex. Emilia, will you head this project? 

To be tasked with

  • Def: to be given a task
  • Ex. I’ve been tasked with contacting parents for the fundraiser.
  • Ex. Rita, you will be tasked with ensuring all guests have RSVP’d to February.

Step 2: Provide Updates or Check In

As you work toward a deadline, it’s important to provide updates or check in with the people involved. 

To start, in meetings or emails, you could send a gentle reminder of any upcoming deadlines.

This is especially important for any tasks that you can’t afford to delay. 

  • Def: to not do sth because it would lead to serious problems or consequences
  • Ex. We can’t afford to make any mistakes at this stage of the negotiations.

If you’re tasked with a deliverable and there’s a roadblock, it’s imperative to let everyone know that you’re running behind schedule

  • Def: a hindrance; sth that blocks progress or delays accomplishment
  • Ex. There’s a roadblock in our plan and I’d like to discuss it with you. 
  • Def: to do sth later than planned or expected; to take longer than planned or expected
  • Ex. The power outage lasted longer than I expected, and I’m running behind schedule for these tasks. 

On the other hand, if everything is going smoothly, you might be on time or even ahead of schedule

  • Def: to do or finish something earlier than planned; early
  • Ex. We got the prints back ahead of schedule, and we’re now in the final stage of the design approval. 

During this process, there may be times when your priorities overlap with those of others. You may need to remind someone of a looming deadline to ensure they stay on track or navigate requests from others.  

  • Def: about to happen or fast approaching, sometimes a cause of worry or concern

Ex. For instance, if someone asks you to help them review a document and you don’t have time right now, you could say:

I have a looming deadline, but I can certainly take a look at it on Monday.

Step 3: Manage Your Timelines & Priorities

But, if meeting a deadline is proving to be difficult or an unexpected turn of events leads to competing priorities, be sure to communicate this with your team as soon as possible.

  • Def: situations where different objectives or goals clash or project timelines overlap, affecting the capacity of a team.

Delays can happen, and it’s important to know how to talk about them. Especially if a deliverable is long overdue

  • Def: not having arrived, received, or completed by an expected time; late
  • Ex. For instance, if you’re still waiting on a coworker to send you data, you might say:

    The prototype results are overdue. Could you please provide an update on where you are in this process?

If you need help meeting a deadline, focus on clarity.  

To communicate the delay clearly, be sure to answer the following your response:

  • Which deliverable is late?
  • When is the expected date/time of completion?
  • What is the solution? Or what can be done to reduce the impact of the delay?

Here’s an example of how that might look:

  • Ex. I’m running out of time to complete the data analysis because the training took longer than expected. 
    • Def: to rapidly lose a resource, usually time, patience, energy, or money
  • I need to send the completed analysis within the next two hours, but I think I need until the end of today. 
      • Def: at some point during this period of time
  • I understand that this report is vital for understanding our clients and I apologize for delaying the marketing proposal.
      • Def: absolutely necessary or important
  • So, I’d like to request the team’s help in putting this report together by the end of the day. Would this be a possibility?
    • Def: before or on

However, even with the best of efforts, some deadlines might need to be pushed back.

To push back a deadline means to postpone or reschedule to a later time or date.

  • Ex. To accommodate the time required for the changes, I’ve pushed the deadline back to the end of the month.

Ex. I was wondering if we could push back the deadline for the initial test because…

Step 4: Clarify, Negotiate, and Compromise

Finally, always prioritize an open line of communication

  • Def: the practice of open and honest communication wherein two or more people can share their thoughts freely
  • Ex. Please ensure you touch base with me during my office hours to maintain an open line of communication.

Should you need to clarify an expectation, negotiate a deadline, or compromise in any way, be sure to have that conversation at your earliest convenience

  • Def: as soon as one can
  • Ex. Please let me know whether these dates work for you, at your earliest convenience. 

If you see a potential for concern in the foreseeable future, share that with everyone involved. 

  • Def: as far into the future as you can imagine or plan for
  • Ex. For the foreseeable future, I believe the budget for the school’s after-school programs should remain as it is. 

Not only does this ensure you clarify your thoughts, but it also allows the opportunity to set future expectations or describe your next steps. 

To do this, you might say:

  • Ex. Going forward, I’d like to invest more time and energy into fine tuning our existing approach to content. 
    • Def: in the future; moving forward

FREE Vocabulary Practice Worksheet

Learning and — more importantly — remembering new vocabulary comes from repeated practice.

That’s why I’ve created a FREE worksheet for you to practice the vocabulary you’ve learned today.

The worksheet includes 

  • A vocabulary activity for practice
  • The correct answers
  • A guide with the key vocabulary, synonyms, and an example sentence

You can download the FREE Vocabulrary Worksheet with the form below the video lesson.

And if you have questions or would like to share your own example sentences using these word pairs, you can share them directly with me in the comments below.

~ Annemarie

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