The word deadline was first used in the American civil war in the 1860s. Prison guards were given orders to shot any prisoner who crossed a wooden railing called “deadline.” The modern meaning of deadline isn’t that intense. It’s still viewed as something negative.
Deadlines can be deadly especially if it’s a big project and it’s keeping you awake at night. But with the right approach and planning, you can complete the project in time ensuring all the requirements are met.
Tips to meet deadlines
Need help on how to meet your deadlines? Here is a quick guide revealing all the right tips ensuring you meet your deadlines and make your client happy.
Communication is the key
The first thing to do for ensuring that you manage the progress successfully is to sit with your team and communicate the requirements of the project including the due date.
Discuss what needs to be done, delegate tasks, and ensure that everyone’s on the same page. The communication must be two-way encourage your team members to ask questions and express their thoughts.
Set clear goals
Once everyone knows what to do, it’s time to set weekly goals. Write down what you want to achieve. Break down large goals into small chunks.
Make sure the goals are realistic and easy to achieve. Assign an average time to each goal. This will help you organize the entire week and stay on track.
Set a start and complete a date each step
By now, you must have broken down the project into goals and an action plan to meet those goals. Assign a start and completion date to each step. This will keep you on track.
Another secret on how to meet your deadlines is to prioritize. Ideally, larger tasks that would take more time should be accomplished first. People tend to put off larger tasks because they are intimidating. The more you put these goals off, the more intimidating things will become and you will end up missing the deadline.
Break down your goals and prioritize them by eating the frog first. Once the larger goals are accomplished, you will feel less stressed.
Breakdown the tasks
Every project consists of complex tasks. To make things simpler, break down these complex tasks into smaller tasks and complete these tasks one by one. By the time the deadline is closed, you will have a lot done in advance.
Know your productive hours
It’s impossible to stay productive throughout the days. Some people are more productive in the mornings some in the afternoons while others are at night time. Figure out the most productive time of the day for yourself and schedule the most important to be achieved then. This will help you stay focused and get things done.
What to do in the hours when you are least productive? Look at your emails, do research, make calls, and do other similar tasks. Use the natural productive period to your advantage so that you can get more done.
Make yourself accountable
If you fear you might slack off, hold yourself accountable by having an accountability partner. Hold regular meetings where each team member updates if they achieved the goals of the week. This is a good practice to ensure that everything’s on track.
Address issues timely
Through regular meetings, if there are any discrepancies in delivering something to the client, your team will be able to communicate the issues in time. You may then communicate these issues to the client and act while you still have time.
If you leave the issues to be addressed too late, you may fail to meet the deadlines. Conveying a problem to the client a few days before the deadline doesn’t leave a good impression either.
Use project management tools
Another way to monitor progress is to use project management tools such as Monday.com, Mindtools, Getapp, Asana, Trello, and/or anything that allows you to add projects, and reminds you of all the tasks that are due. These tools will prove to be your personal assistant and remind you what needs to be done.
Have a cushion
Always have a cushion for the deadline. Unforeseen circumstances can arise and cause a delay in meeting the internal deadlines. If you have a cushion in place, you can always make adjustments and still manage to deliver the project to the client in time.
Get rid of all distractions
Distractions are your biggest enemy. If you want a pro tip on how to meet your deadlines, remove all distractions which include social media, push notifications, instant messages, and more.
Distractions can break the work momentum. In case you are working from home, these distractions can wear you down. Set up a dedicated workspace in the quiet corner of the house. When working on important tasks, close all social media accounts. Don’t gossip with other coworkers. Set your Skype status to busy so that no one bothers you and stay focused. If the need arises, wear noise-canceling headphones and immerse yourself in work.
Be honest with yourself
Be honest with yourself and your team members about the project’s progress. If you are struggling to complete a task, don’t hesitate to ask for help.
Don’t leave things until the last minute
Sometimes, you leave things until the last minute thinking that you should be able to complete and deliver the project in time. Never play like this. Always complete the task before the actual deadline.
You should be able to make amends and tackle potential issues while you still have time.
A positive attitude can help you achieve impossible things.
While you are giving your best to finish the tasks assigned, it is likely to feel demotivated when a roadblock appears. Have no fear, handle everything patiently because nothing can be achieved from panicking and stressing out.
Don’t sit in front of the screen all day long. Take 15 minutes breaks so that you can get more done in less time. Don’t multitask otherwise you won’t get anything done in time.
The biggest cause of missing a deadline is overcommitting. Don’t bite off more than what you can chew. When committing to a project, learn to say no if something being asked is impossible or cannot be met in the timeline being allotted.
Overcommitting can also make you compromise on quality just to get things done within the mentioned deadline.
Unfortunately, we procrastinate because we can. You are not going to get any reward for delivering the work on time so why not! Don’t be the type of person who spends two days on a task that can be done within a few hours.
On other occasions, we procrastinate when there is too much on our plate. In a situation like this, prioritize and accomplish the larger goals first. If your manager doesn’t follow up after assigning you a task, then hold yourself accountable.
Even if the deadline is a week away, work on the project ASAP. Give yourself goals, be honest, and hold yourself accountable. Procrastination can become a lifestyle. Don’t let it creep up on you.
Stay up late when you have to
When you are up against a tight deadline, don’t hesitate to stay awake the whole night. Sometimes, work requires such commitments and you shouldn’t hesitate from working long hours.
What if you are having trouble meeting a deadline?
You could be extremely diligent and still fail to meet a deadline. This has happened to the best of us.
First off, if you can’t squeeze everything into the 8-hour work shift, and you would have to stay in the office till morning, stay late! I know it is unpleasant but staying up late is better than having to tell the client you can’t deliver within the promised deadline.
However, if there is no way you can make it and you are better off calling the client and explaining the situation, then negotiate another deadline. This time, make sure it’s realistic and has a cushion.
Learn from your mistakes
Since you are here learning how to meet your deadlines, if you have missed one in the past, learn from your mistakes. Don’t beat yourself up. Take it as a learning experience. Reanalyze the situation and think about where you went wrong. Avoid this mistake in the future.
Award your team with small rewards when they accomplish a goal on time. Celebrate the small milestones to give yourself and your team the mental boost to keep going.
Step away from the desk and take a little breather. Have lunch with your teammates and share some laughs. You will feel so much better. Plus, this will keep your brain from going into overdrive.
There is no way one can get away from a deadline.
Now that you know how to meet your deadlines, stay organized, break down goals into achievable chunks, use project management tools and stay on top of your tasks.
Respect deadlines and put this struggle to an end by acting on these tips.