Meeting your deadlines is an important requirement for most jobs and to be successful you will need to be able to meet deadlines under pressure.
And meeting deadlines is also likely to extend into your personal life as well - think of a house renovation, or Christmas, or your kids birthday party.
If you deliver results on time, but at the same time stay cool under pressure as well as maintaining your sanity then you will go a long way towards being successful
Here are some top tips and strategies to help you to meet your deadlines easily..
1. Break Down The Tasks.
Divide bigger tasks into smaller steps and set deadlines for the lower level tasks.
Just make sure when you roll them all together you meet the deadline for the bigger activity
For instance if you are planning a wedding you'll want to set deadlines for setting the budget, sending out the invites, creating the seating plan etc
Of course the "bigger deadline" is the wedding day itself.
2. Plan Your Time
We've all done it. We've all underestimated how long particular tasks will take
Use your past experiences as a template to estimate and budget your time.
Do a simple "risk assessment". What could go wrong - if you anticipate that obstacles are bound to arise you can allow extra time to deal with those situations.
3. Cut Down On Perfectionism
You don't have to completely cut out perfectionism - sometimes it is needed - but save your best efforts for when they'll create the most impact.
Sometimes you'll have to go all out and dot all the i's and cross all the t's.
Sometimes though you can accept something just being good enough.
As an example, as long as you can find everything in your cupboards you can probably go forward and survive without stacking all the cans in order
4. Just Do It
It's easier to stay in motion than to keep stopping and restarting.
Start the process - make that first phone call, or gather that first set of data.
Just get started and you'll be one step ahead
5. Take a Break.
On the other hand, you also need regular breaks to revitalize yourself
Pause during a busy afternoon to take a few full breaths.
Have a "power nap" or simply sit down with a cup of tea for ten minutes and clear your mind.
I always find that running an errand such as posting a letter just helps to take you away for 10 minutes and I am refocused when I return
6. Know Your Limits.
It's better to decline assignments graciously rather than taking on too much and becoming overwhelmed.
Others will appreciate your honesty and you'll be more productive.
7. Ask For Help.
Reach out to others when you require support.
Asking for help makes you smart, rather than weak.
Also, remember to be generous and assist others when you have the chance.
8. Develop a System.
Design a calendar that enables you to see all your deadlines at a glance.
Tackle routine tasks in bunches and it may go quicker for you.
9. Develop Techniques to Deal With Stress
Dissolve tension by listening to a symphony or taking a walk in the park.
Be good to your mind, body, and soul.
10. Impose Your Own Deadlines
Maybe you work for yourself or your supervisor takes a hands-off approach. Set interim and final targets to provide structure.
11. Learn How to Overcome Procrastination
If you procrastinate then try and figure out the reasons why you tend to put things off and apply practical solutions.
Perfectionism is often at the root of procrastination. As is self-esteem.
Read a book on procrastination techniques and apply them to your own life
12. Be Honest With Your Co-workers.
If a colleague is stalling your progress, it's usually best to discuss the issue directly with them. Work together to clarify instructions or access extra resources.
13. Be Honest With Your Stakeholders
If you are running a project at work or at home then you will almost certainly have stakeholders - people who for whatever reason have a vested interest in the outcome. Be as honest as you can be with your stakeholders (without sending them into a panic) and keep them informed on progress
14. Negotiate For More Time.
At times, everyone may agree that they're better off adjusting the time frame. Take quality into account and realize it isn't all about the time.
15. Learn How to Manage Extensions.
It's easy to slack off when a deadline is pushed back. Think strategically about how to maximize the opportunity.
16. Recover Quickly From Missed Deadlines.
Only in extreme circumstances, like a hurricane or medical emergency, is it reasonable to let a deadline go out the window. Apologize sincerely, present a revised plan of action for resolving the situation, and set a new deadline.
17. Learn How to Have "Courageous Conversations"
Learn how to have those "courageous conversations" when needed. This may be to a colleague who is not performing, a supplier who isn't cutting it or giving bad news to one of your stakeholders
18. Go On "Do Not Disturb"
Don't be afraid to go on to "Do Not Disturb" when you have important work to do. Remember, you are paid to do the work and meet your deadlines as your top priority so block out some time in your diary if needed to actually "do the work"
19. Cut Out The Noise
Take your laptop to a coffee shop and catch up on your correspondence for the week. When silence is golden to you, shut your office door or play soft noise to drown out sounds from the hallway.
20. Manage Distractions
Social media, television, video games are all distractions. Turn them all off whilst you are working. You will only get distracted
21. Learn to Delegate
Is there any part of your work somebody else could do? Learn the art of delegation and cut out the mundane and time-consuming tasks.
For instance at home if the washing up is preventing you filling out your taxes then delegate to the kids. At work, if writing up the actions from the last meeting is affecting you completing that vital report, then get a more junior member of your team to take actions ..
In summary - skillful time management and teamwork with a dash of project management will help you perform better when deadlines loom. Put these techniques into action to become more prompt and poised.