In business, deadlines can be the difference between success and failure. If you have a deadline to deliver a project to a client or customer and you fail to do so, that piece of business could be jeopardized — even if the client/customer is an understanding one. Sometimes, there will be times when you will miss a deadline because of circumstances out of your control and that is fine. It happens. But outside of that, you should ensure that you maintain a high level of business efficiency in meeting deadlines and targets. Deadlines – a word that can instantly cause hearts to race, minds to go numb and stress. If you happen to be in a work scenario, deadlines are often like the bosses that hunt down employers.
Deadlines and due dates always manage to break a sweat on the worker’s forehead but not for long, because we have come up with ways you can meet your deadlines and crush them.A lot of us are usually overcome with excitement at the prospect of a new job or taking on a new challenge. Unfortunately, the novelty does not last very long when we get hit with wave after wave of deadlines. Not everyone is mentally or physically capable of handling that. With every assignment we fail to complete, report we forget to turn in and meeting we arrive late to, we push ourselves further into the wormhole. How do you turn this situation around? How do you stay on top of the situation and accomplish all of your tasks in good time? Here are a few tips.
Let’s face it, we’re living in a world of distraction and procrastination. Why work on that deadline when you can set aside time tomorrow and binge on Orange is the New Black while tweeting today? Why do the tedious work right now when it’s out of sight and out of mind? Most people struggle with these challenges, but putting a formula in place can not only help you to meet your deadlines, but beat them. Getting ahead of your work deadlines can lead to higher quality work, and lower stress levels. You can find the time to do the work. You can make the time to do the work. You can cut something from your schedule to get the most important work done. While it might feel stressful in the moment, you are really limited to one of these three choices. So all you have to do is decide which one is the case for your current schedule and then act accordingly.
Here’s what to do the next in each of these scenarios so that you can get the work done without going panicky at the last moment:
Now Or Never
Not many people know the importance of time, which can be a cruel mistress to the idlers. When embarking on a new assignment or project, always make sure that you have adequate time on your hand before you accept it. Sure, a new project might sound exciting at first, but each assignment brings with it, its set of difficulties and struggles. Trying to squeeze in double the workload into a short timespan is just asking for trouble. Always ‘look before you leap. If there is a project on your desk, do it immediately if possible. Yes, we set start and end times for every project, but it doesn’t make any sense to put something off if you don’t have to. That way, you can stay ahead of time and lessen the risk of not meeting your deadlines.
It also creates a buffer period that will allow you much-needed time to retrace your steps if you derail or make a mistake while handling the project. Set an early deadline to have the project completed. Do not deviate from that time. Use a formula of one-day for one week. If your project is due four weeks out, make the deadline four days earlier. See project deadlines as the same as making travel plans. You wouldn’t just hop on a plane without planning, and don’t wait until the last minutes before you begin planning your project deadlines. Sometimes, these two things can intersect. Planning ahead is always a good idea. Not only will it help you meet diverse deadlines, but you’ll end up ahead of future ones, too.
Setting Mini Goals
This pointer is in conjunction with the previous one – setting up bite-sized portions of the assignment and ensuring that you achieve them daily. Accomplishing self-set mini daily goals is an easy way to lift the workload slowly. Don’t look at the big picture of a project. Instead, it helps to fragment the project — to break the big picture into smaller digestible units. Then, set miniature deadlines for each of these tasks and tackle them one after the other. As you accomplish each task, you will feel a sense of accomplishment, which will fuel you to take on the next challenge with vigor and determination. By working in this piecemeal fashion, you will achieve the objective of the bigger picture without getting bogged down by it.
Sometimes it’s a bit more challenging, especially if there’s someone who was counting on the task you have to cut to be done this week. If possible, try to get someone else to help you with the task. You can delegate it to someone on your team or get the input of a peer to help you still get the work done on time. If that’s not an option, though, the best strategy here is to approach the person who was counting on your work ahead of time; don’t just miss the deadline and hope they understand. You want to get out in front of it and let them know plans have changed.
Don’t Rely On Mental Notes
You might have amazing brain power but that doesn’t mean you should rely completely on it to hold every piece of pertinent information. Because of the avalanche of things you will have to do every day, you will most likely forget something. If anything comes across, make sure you enter it in your calendar immediately with all the necessary details. Also, make use of task-reminder apps to help you stay alert on things you need to do. One of the main reasons employees are not able to meet the set deadlines is either they weren’t aware of it or weren’t made aware of the severity of it. Either way, it is important that the client and the employer talk things through before they set a deadline.During discussions, both sides get a chance to see the work at hand in a more realistic stance and value and better gauge the amount the time needed to complete it.
Deadlines are not the only thing that can be discussed during meetings, the severity of the work and what needs to be done to complete it. Don’t limit talking to your client only in the initial phase of the project, consistently keep in with them. Be it about updating your customer on the progress of the assignment or announcing a certain delay in work, talk to the customer.Maintain notes of your research. Use Evernote or another app to store any websites you visit and other notes so that you don’t have to keep looking for them. Keep a calendar. Use it for more than the final deadline. Stay on top of short deadlines and tasks. When you’ve asked someone for information, note the deadline you gave them. Set reminders to keep you on task.
Shut Out Distractions
While you have control over how you fragment projects, schedule activities and prioritize tasks, it’s often hard to anticipate or plan for distractions. No matter how important these may seem, these distractions will ultimately only serve to slow you down. Try to avoid as many of these interruptions as possible by delegating your other responsibilities to your most trusted and capable employees. Shut off your phone and internet connection. You can even leave the office and check yourself into a resort if you have to, but make sure that these steps ensure zero distractions and interruptions.
Unforeseen circumstances are just what they are – Unforeseen. So you will need to be prepared for such situations. Before you take up a new project, think about the possible situationS that could hinder with the productivity and chalk out the due date with that in mind. Should you meet a possible mishap that prevents work from progressing, immediately inform the client. Depending on the severity of the situation talk with the customer about a delay or a postponement of the deadline. Do not make the decision singlehandedly that will only result in chaos.
Urgency, Not Importance
Now this falls entirely on the employee’s hands. Prioritizing one’s work makes it easier to implement the work and also makes it simpler to reach the deadline on time. Make a note on your calendar/notebook or a set it as a reminder on your phone. Make sure you set the priorities depending on the urgency of the task at hand. Once you have done your priorities straight, stick to them. Work on the assignment at hand every day. Piling the work till the due date and then pulling an all-nighter to cramp in and complete your job will get you only a headache. So unless you enjoy the whole process of hampering work into one night, it is best to do little of workload every day until the day of the deadline.
Break down the project into bite-sized portions that you can do/ achieve on a daily basis. This is an excellent way to track the progress of the work at hand and also gives you a little bit encourage to keep going till the finish line. When scheduling tasks in your calendar, start from the one with the closest due date. It may not be as important as subsequent tasks, but if its time of completion is shorter, that is all that matters. Besides, you need to get everything done, anyway, so might as well start at the start. If you are so bothered about the more important tasks, do your best to complete the preceding tasks as quickly as possible so you can finally start work on more pertinent issues.
Don’t limit talking to your client only in the initial phase of the project, consistently keep in with them. Be it about updating your customer on the progress of the assignment or announcing a certain delay in work, talk to the customer. When all else fails, as soon as you realize you’re in a time crunch, go to your client or boss and explain why you didn’t meet the deadline and what you did do to get the project done on time. Again, being honest and explaining why you are not taking on the entire assignment will help minimize damage to the relationship or your reputation.