It’s happening again. Time has sped up faster than your procrastination/workload/unexpected event could handle, and that deadline is racing up to smack you in the face. There’s no way you’re going to meet it.

We’ve all been there. But what’s the best way to miss a deadline without totally obliterating your reputation? Follow our Four Rules of Missing Deadlines Club:

1. Give notice

The first rule of Missing Deadlines Club is that you do talk about missing the deadline. Communication, people… It’s a face-saver. Especially if you let people know ahead of time. The sooner your client/boss knows there’s going to be a delay, the easier it’ll be for them to manage expectations. Theirs and everyone else’s.

2. No excuses

The second rule of Missing Deadlines Club is that you keep on talking about missing the deadline. Briefly. Explain yourself enough so they know you weren’t slacking off, but don’t go on as if you’re playing Charades. This means no excuses, no sob stories, and a sincere apology (Note: ‘I’m sorry, but…’ is not a sincere apology).

3. Give options

Your missed deadline could’ve caused a serious nose-bleed, so how can you make the situation less damaging? By giving your client/boss some options or sweetening the deal.

You can do this by, say, handing in a portion of the work while you finish off the rest. Or offering a little extra to make it up. You’re working together, after all. Show your collaborators that you’re eager to take responsibility and to work as a team.

4. New deadline

The final rule is: Make a new deadline. A real deadline. One you have to be able to meet. And that means taking a good, hard look at the work to be done and setting a realistic date – maybe with a little cushion-room just to be safe.

Missing a deadline is never the goal. But in the rare event that you’re stuck without a choice, it helps to cushion the blow. And just like Tyler Durden said in Fight Club: “This is your life and it’s ending one minute at a time.” Make every one of those minutes count.