Meeting deadlines is so important. Whether doing homework, or creating something for a client, if you miss the deadline, you’re in trouble. Once you start getting a bad rep for missing deadlines, people won’t be able to trust you or your business, so here are a few tips to help you stay on you’re a-game and finish on time.
- Keep Visual Reminders
- Prioritise Your Tasks
- Don’t Bite Off More Than You Can Chew
- Establish Mini Milestones
- Stay Strict
- Reward Yourself
It can be easy to forget things that you need to get done. We all do it. Keep your brain thinking ahead and your projects in the loop by keeping a calendar or writing down your deadlines. By seeing them and being reminded of what you must get done, you’re more likely to remember them and get your stuff finished. You can keep this quite simple and add these tasks to your phone as alarms or write them on a calendar you have hanging up. Alternatively, you could use a separate diary or large calendar along with highlighters and post-it notes to easily organise tasks, time limits, and the size of the overall project. Whatever you choose to do, find a way that you remember things and stick with it.
Finishing a range of small tasks can make you feel great, until you remember the bigger things you’ve got to get done. It’s difficult to organise your workload if everyday even more work is piled on. For some people, creating a routine works. For example, this might mean you spend your mornings at work dealing with your emails and any incoming calls. You then spend your afternoon sending emails and calling clients you need to get in touch with. This gives you a few hours to complete each section of work and allows you to organise how you’ll spend your time.
However, life isn’t always that simple. Especially work. If you can’t give your day a routine, try and follow Eisenhower’s Urgent/Important Principle. Simply, it breaks down everything you must get done, and puts it in a priority list so you know what you need to focus on now, and what you can leave until later. Break down everything you need to get done into these four categories:
Important and Urgent
If something is in this category, you’ve either left it until the last minute or it has been sprung on you without you knowing. Get these tasks done ASAP as they’re obviously due soon. Avoid things getting to this level by getting your work done sooner if you can.
Important but Not Urgent
Most of your workload should fall into this category. Make sure you leave time to properly look at these projects as they are important, and you can spend a little more time on them, but don’t give yourself too much time or they will need to be sorted urgently.
Not Important but Urgent
Some tasks in this category can seem pointless, but need to be done to help with the bigger picture. Get them done, but don’t worry about spending all your free time on them.
Not Important and Not Urgent
The tasks in this category can be big distractions, and as they’re not important or urgent, avoid them. Once all your other projects are done, feel free to work on them but focus on everything else first!
Organise your day, week, month, and get what you need to have done, DONE!
It can be difficult to say no to more work, especially if you’re given it by your boss. You don’t want to let them down, yet at the same time, you know you won’t be able to do it. In the film Taken, there is a famous line from character Bryan Mills: “What I do have are a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long career.” We learn that he can complete the job at hand, but it is risky. If you’ve seen the film, he nearly does end up biting off more than he can chew. If you are worried you won’t be able to complete something, or you don’t have the skills to get it done, collaborate with a colleague, or tell the person who set the task that you’re able to work on most of the project, but may need some help to finish. They would much rather you be honest than hand in something they can’t use.
If you’re working on a big project, it can feel like too much. Work out how you can split up the work load, so even though it can feel like more work, each task is a more manageable chunk that you can get done at a pace better for you. Say you’ve got a presentation to do by the end of the week, work out what you will talk about and spend each day leading up to the presentation going through a different topic. You will then be prepared and ready for the presentation, and not feel the weight of the work on your shoulders if you attempt the whole presentation at once. As you complete each section of the larger project, you will feel like you’re getting more done. This will make you feel productive and push you to finish it.
It’s easy to let yourself fall behind if you think you’re getting ahead. Get out of this mentality NOW! It’s causing more harm than good. If you’re ahead of your deadlines, keep it that way. If you can start work on something that isn’t due for a while, do. Staying strict on yourself can be difficult but get into your head that when you’re at work, you need to get shit done. Whether you give yourself a routine so you know when you can relax and when you should work, or don’t let yourself do something you enjoy until you’ve completed your current project. However you choose to stay strict, make sure it’s effective. You may hate yourself, but you’ll thank yourself in the long run.
Hopefully by this stage, you’ve completed your task, or are very near doing so. You should be proud that you’ve kept to your deadline and have everything ready to hand in, present, or know you’ve beaten a personal record. You may have to go straight onto a new task but take time to reward yourself for getting your head down and getting your work in on time. This could simply be having a lie-in, treating yourself to a food you really like, or taking it easy at work for a few hours. Whatever you can do to show yourself some appreciation for meeting your deadlines, do it!
When you work hard at something, you motivate yourself to do better in other things. Don’t leave work until the last minute. Deadlines aren’t a bad thing, even if they do seem scary. They help you to organise your time and prioritise the work you have to do. Meeting a deadline is incredibly motivating, so keep hitting them and working hard!