Making deadlines work for you

The word “deadline” is enough to generate rushes of panic and desperation in any work environment. Some people are able to work well under pressure while others are left flustered and stressed. Still, there are several ways in which you can learn how to work on deadlines – and actually use them to be more productive. Working on many projects in fast-paced environments can be tough. Typically, we have deadlines for one of the following reasons:
To ensure that we complete particular tasks. It’s easy to delay or to forget a task that has no agreed end point. With this in mind deadlines can help us avoid this.
To encourage a smooth workflow. Deadlines help us to collaborate towards achieving a shared goal and to keep complex projects on track.
To set expectations. Deadlines outline a clear timeline of what we’re expected to deliver and when. Making it easier for us to take control of our work, free of confusion.
Missing a deadline can have serious repercussions. It can damage ones reputation and career prospects especially if this is seen reoccurring. It can also be extremely damaging to an organisation. Missing a deadline will likely impact a company’s reputation, and it can have serious financial implications if the delay triggers a penalty clause in a contract.
So let’s examine the two main areas to focus on when you have to hit that deadline!
Managing a Deadline, and Taking Control of Yourself.

Managing a Deadline
Most of us simply accept deadlines that are assigned but it’s important to consider and study the work involved before committing to it. People often underestimate how long it takes to complete projects, so the deadline you’ve been set could be unrealistic. Sometimes deadlines are set unnecessarily early to prevent problems from arising when delivery is late.
So, what should you do before agreeing to a deadline?
Gauge what’s required first. This means that you will need to understand exactly what the task involves. If your deadline is for a complicated task, map out and stratergise what needs to be done.
Source the Right Resources. Make sure that you have what you need to get the job done efficiently. Do you have the people, technical expertise and support, training, or content ready and available in time? If not, you may have to suggest a longer schedule to deliver on time.
Plan for problems. Things don’t always go to plan, so it’s wise to think about potential problems. A testing phase for (IT projects), illness, equipment failure, or an unexpected urgent and important competing task that can affect your set deadline.
Plan a roadmap. Create a detailed schedule and timeline of delivery. A good approach is to break tasks down into small components and to create deadlines for each. By doing this you will be able to create a clear picture of the project and be able to justify additional time required.
Minimise the damage of a missed deadline. Despite all the hard work and planning, you might still miss a deadline. If this happens, keep calm and make every effort to limit the damage. Always keep your clients informed of progress throughout your work, highlighting any issues that may delay the project and show that you are putting your contingency plans into action.
Taking Control of Yourself
The other important factor in meeting a deadline is you! You need the right mindset and the self-discipline.
Adjust your mindset. Adopt a positive attitude toward deadlines, instead of resenting them. Deadlines often help us achieve our goals that we might otherwise put off. Don’t mistake “planning” for “doing.” At the end a plan is just a plan if it’s not executed!
Make good use of you time. Avoid trying to multitask, as it’s not efficient. Keep track of time to help work effectively, especially when the deadline is close.
Understand what motivates you. Research shows that some people just aren’t inspired by deadlines. If that’s you, consider what it is that motivate you. Is it doing a good job, getting praise and recognition, or having free time to do the things that you enjoy? Meeting your deadline will likely help in all of these areas.
David Allen a productivity consultant created a popular task management system called Getting Things Done, or GTD for short. The methodology is based on a simple truth: The more information bouncing around inside your head, the harder it is to decide what needs attention. As a result, you spend more time thinking about your tasks than actually doing them. When information piles up in your head, it leads to stress, overwhelm, and uncertainty.
Try Getting Things Done (GTD) and apply it to deadlines if you…
  • Feel overwhelmed by the amount of things you need to keep track of
  • Worry about forgetting small details
  • Wear lots of hats in your job and life
  • Starts lots of projects but have trouble finishing them
Make meeting deadlines a habit. Start by working toward smaller deadlines in your daily work, and transfer this habit to bigger ones when they arise.


Blog by NG