It happened again--you missed a deadline. Maybe you forgot about it. Maybe it slipped off your radar, or you kept thinking, “I’ve got another week on that.” Whatever the case, it may be a wake-up call that you need to change something.
Missing a deadline is a big deal. Maybe you’ll be forgiven, but on the other side is someone who is waiting for your piece of work. In some cases, a missed deadline means that the entire team is held up waiting for something.
Are deadlines your biggest nemesis? Whether you work for an employer or for yourself, meeting deadlines is always a priority. Even if you’ve blown past your New Year’s resolutions, there’s no time like the present to change your work routine so that you get a handle on deadlines. Start now.
Making Deadlines Easier
If you’ve tried a new app or technique and aren’t having any luck, drop it. New apps with bells and whistles might be fun, but they could make things more complicated than your present way of working. If you try a new app, then stop using it and go back to what you were doing before, you’re not really getting anywhere.
Here are some hacks that can help you get a handle on meeting and making deadlines.
- Create a task list. It sounds simple, but don’t ignore it. How can you keep up with your deadlines if you don’t have a list? Whether you use paper, a small whiteboard at your desk, or a program like Basecamp, Outlook or Microsoft To-Do, get started now putting together your task list and add due dates into them. Start with a weekly task list, including deadlines, then prioritize and decide what you’ll be doing tomorrow with a daily task list. This article from The Muse shows you how to create a flexible weekly template that you can use to keep track of your schedule and deadlines.
- Create due dates for everything. Even for “no rush” projects, set up a deadline so that you don’t forget them, and you actually do get them done. It’s very easy to look at something without a due date and think you’ll put it off “until tomorrow,” and then “tomorrow” never comes.
- Create your schedule. For projects that you know the time it will take, give yourself enough time to complete the project and add in a little “buffer” room in case you run into the unexpected. If you don’t know how long a project will take, use a tool like Toggl to track your time while working.
- Divide and conquer larger projects. Because big projects can be intimidating, breaking down the entire project into smaller pieces will make it easier to work with. Assign a due date to each stage, whether you turn them into your supervisor or client or put them all together to turn in at one time.
- Get started. This too may sound like a simple thing—but once you have a project, how long does it take you to actually start on it? Dig in and get started, even for projects with a longer deadline. You don’t need to finish immediately, just get started and build the momentum. The sooner you begin, the sooner you meet your deadline and can move onto the next project.
- Set your own deadlines that are prior to the due date. A project with an unclear timeframe should have a deadline so that it doesn’t fall off your radar. Set one and stick to it for all of your projects, whether or not you’re given one. For those projects with assigned deadlines, set your own due date a few to several days in advance. That way you can handle any delays that may occur.
- Avoid Monday deadlines if you can. This may mean that you’ll need to work a weekend or two, and possibly throw off the rest of your schedule. If you are given a Monday deadline, set your personal deadline to Friday.
- Set reminders. Not just one that tells you when a project is due, but at least two reminders ahead of the deadline. If you do lose track of something, you’ll have something reminding you of a due date, helping you catch up.
- Schedule blocks of time for concentration. Because it’s easy to be pulled in several directions at once, find the best time for you to be able to focus solely on the task at hand. Then stick to it—no checking email or the phone, just work on one thing during this time. The Pomodoro Technique is a great way to learn how, and you can download their free app. Don’t forget to take a short break, and walk away for a few minutes when you need a breather from what you’re doing.
- Shut off distractions. That means no checking email and phone notifications, surfing the web, chatting with coworkers (or friends), and taking too-long breaks.
- Change your Scenery. Whether you’re working in an office or working from home, you may just need to try working in a different location for a while. Your favorite local coffee shop, public library, or other alternative workspaces can offer a break from the usual and let you concentrate better on the tasks at hand.
- Are you over-scheduled? If you have too much to complete in a short amount of time, you may have to decline projects that you can’t finish by the due date.
Of course, the best “hack” is the one that you use consistently, and that helps you to stay on track and on time.
Make Time For Your New Career In SAP
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