Many of you might have struggled with meeting deadlines. Why?
Due to poor time management skills and/or, procrastination often lead to last minute cram sessions, resulting in substandard work.
You very well know that at work, failing to meet deadlines is one of the cardinal sins that can easily get you fired. An employee who fails to be punctual and achieve deadlines is no more than a broken cog in a machine, and will be quickly replaced. Learn effective time management in order to successfully meet deadlines.
I am not talking on Time management. What I want to share with you, is project management.
Breaking Your Task Down Into Bite-Size Pieces
It was hard for you to learn that one large task can always be more easily accomplished in bite-size pieces over a long period of time. If you are given a project to complete in the next two weeks, the right time to get started is that very day. When you first receive a project, you should take out a calendar and find a way to break it into four or more evenly spaced parts. Don’t just mark the final deadline date. Give yourself mini-deadline dates per segment and meet them, whatever the cost. Failing to meet one of your own mini-deadlines should be regarded as a failure to meet the final deadline.
This is what happens usually – when you lack the self-discipline necessary to break one large task into several small ones. You may not worry if one of deadlines is missed. You may then procrastinate and push it back to the second, third and final deadlines. This way, you will only panic as the last deadline approaches.
A simple way to reinforce meeting your own mini-deadlines is to reward yourself.
If you completed the first phase of the project ahead of time, reward yourself with a night out, a nice dinner or a gift for yourself. If necessary, pencil these in under each mini-deadline. A variation of this would be to abstain from an addiction – such as candy, beer or cigarettes – until the mini-deadline is met, with no exceptions.
If you truly lack the self-discipline necessary to pull this off, you’ll need a partner – kind of like an Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor – who oversees your day-to-day activities to make sure you never veer off course.
Meeting deadlines is a lot like playing a good game of Chess. Good chess players plan five to ten moves ahead. Bad chess players only concentrate on the current move. If you always focus on events several days down the road, you’ll be better equipped to handle any potential crises that pop up. It also allows you to set aside a day or two before the final deadline to polish your project and add finishing touches. Don’t just focus on today – focus on the whole week.
Get Organized – Technology is your Friend
Why people fail to meet deadlines – you may simply aren’t organized. In this age of smartphones, tablets and cloud computing, you have no excuse to be disorganized. Just entering events in your Google Calendar will sync it across all your mobile devices so you can keep aware of all current deadlines. Cloud-based calendars and documents can also be shared and edited by collaborators, which makes working with a team a breeze.
You should file documents neatly in your computer or cloud-based storage. You might have experienced wasting time finding digital bits and pieces of the projects when not organized, using “search” to desperately find the document swearing was saved to the desktop”. Good self-discipline is reflected in good organizational skills.
Be Able to Meet Short Notice Deadlines
Last, but not least, always be ready to meet short-notice deadlines. These occur at every workplace, upsetting employees and managers alike. If you were able to manage your time effectively, meeting a sudden short-notice deadline should be a breeze. Smoothly and coolly meeting a last minute deadline makes you look great – especially when your procrastinating co-workers are tearing their hair out.
Suresh Shah, M.D., Pathfinders Enterprise