Do you hate deadlines? Want to know how to make them more manageable? Making deadlines work for you is not as hard as it may seem.
Whether you are a movie producer or accountant, everyone has deadlines they must contend with. By their nature deadlines can cause stress, worrying, and generally ruin your mood. So long as you are employed, or have projects you need to complete, deadlines will be a part of your life. Even though you cannot make time-sensitive projects go away, with these three keys you can help make those deadlines manageable:
3 Steps to Getting Stuff Done on Time
1. Manage your Time Effectively
Write down everything you need to get done, both for work and personal life. You should plan out the tasks that need to be done each day and have a list of to-do’s that can be completed quickly while you’re in between larger projects. For example, if you have to wait for a call at a certain time, use that time to get some smaller tasks accomplished. This helps to not only organize your time, but by breaking the larger project into many smaller tasks it makes the final outcome seem more manageable. Accomplishing one task a day for a week at four hours a day seems much more manageable than a 28-hour project.
If you are able to, delegate the tasks which do not require your personal attention. No one can do everything, and by delegating you to allow yourself to focus on those tasks only you can accomplish. Know your limits and work within them.
The most important thing about time management is to not procrastinate. While you may be able to squeeze something in the next day instead of working on it now after you have done it once you are likely to do it again. This can lead to work piling up and overwhelming you.
2. Set manageable deadlines
The easiest way to manage deadlines is to make sure they are realistic from the start. While some deadlines are forced upon you, often you can tweak or negotiate a deadline’s time before you set it. Setting an aggressive deadline is OK, but only do so if you’re confident you can hit it.
Beyond setting realistic deadlines, build in buffer time. Even the best-laid plans can run into problems and cost you extra time. If your project would normally take two weeks to finish, then schedule it for 17 days instead of 14. That three-day window will help if something goes wrong. The larger the time frame is the more days you should build into the deadline to allow for anything that pops up. If you do not use all of the time and finish early then it can only look good to your boss, client, and peers.
3. Budget time for yourself, friends, and family
When working against a hard deadline, leisure time can often get put on the back-burner. It is essential to budget time in your schedule for this. Your health and mood will affect the quality of your work and your productivity, and your work is sure to suffer if you do not take time to enjoy yourself when working on a long-term project. So get to the gym, take a walk, spend at least a few minutes each day doing what you enjoy – this will help you avoid getting burned out, and will allow you to produce high-quality work.
Time with family and friends is the next thing that usually gets skipped after personal time, and can cause just as many problems. Cutting out this time reduces your happiness and will also cause you to worry about the fact that you are neglecting the people you care about the most. So set your priorities and make sure you’re spending time with your loved ones when working on an extended project.
These three tips can help you manage your deadlines and keep your priorities in line, but they are just a starting point. Do you have any other ways that help you deal with deadlines? If so, comment below and let us know.