Everyone encounters deadlines in their work, but some are better than others at meeting them. These top tips will help you manage deadlines more effectively.
CARE ABOUT THEM
Some people don’t seem to view deadlines in the same way as the rest of the world and see them more as a guide time rather than a hard deadline! Don’t be one of these people. If someone wants something done by a certain date, then assume they have a reason for that date and make it your responsibility to deliver on or before that date.
BE ORGANISED (LIST)
If you are managing several deadlines at any one time, you need to be organised. Use whatever diary method is appropriate, but diarise what you need to do and by when so that you are clear what you have to do.
Make sure you are clear with the people you are delivering to exactly what the task is that needs to be done by the deadline, to what level of quality and when exactly it is required. Some people can assume the end of working day when given a date, while others might want the task done by first thing that date.
BUILD IN A CUSHION
If you are setting deadlines for others or diarising for yourself, it is wise to build in a cushion of time. If you have a two-day project, don’t plan to only start it two days before the deadline. What if you come down with an illness, or another more urgent job comes along?
BREAK THE PROJECT DOWN (WITH DATES)
If you have a large task with just a final deadline, it can feel easier to tackle if you break it down into smaller tasks, each with individual deadlines.
TACKLE ONE STEP AT A TIME
Again, large tasks can feel overwhelming and hard to understand how to fit into the time available. Even when made into a list of smaller tasks it may feel too much, but just focus on completing the first item on the list and once you have achieved it, then think about the second.
Communication needs to be very clear both ways. If there are any changes in the deadline, these must be communicated as early as possible.
Once you have broken a task down into smaller pieces, remember there may be some sub-tasks you can delegate to others while you get on with another part of the project.
DON’T SET YOURSELF UP TO FAIL
Finally, don’t accept a task with a deadline you don’t think you can meet. Some people may not fully understand the task they are giving out to others and the time given is simply not enough for the work that needs to be done. Don’t just accept this; have a conversation and try and get the deadline to a more reasonable one.
If you can follow these top tips, then you should never have problems with missed deadlines again!