Meeting a Deadline
Your reputation is everything, and this is built on two particular straits; the quality of your work, and how well you meet deadlines.
Time management is a skill that can make the difference between work success and failure. Here are some simple everyday habits which will help you to become better at managing not only your time but your workload more efficiently, giving you peace of mind and allowing you to stop worrying about the little things, and focus on producing work and hitting deadlines.
1. Take your Deadlines Seriously
Depending on the industry you’re in deadlines can move, but does this mean we just go with the flow and not try to complete the work within the given timeframe? My answer would be no, time is money and an extension can be welcome if it means the product is improved not because it’s more time to procrastinate. To achieve a deadline, you must take it seriously, planning your time, resources and making it a priority. Delivering work on time should be easy provided you plan and are realistic about what you can achieve.
2. Keep a Programme of Critical Dates and Deadlines
If you care about your deadlines, put them in your diary. Make this a timeline, where you record what you need to achieve and check it daily to make sure you know what is due and when. Create a to-do list for each project of what you need to accomplish in the correct order and allocate each task a deadline.
3. Communicate A Clear and Realistic Timeline
Ensure that you, your team and the client agree to all deadlines, including time of day. Issue a project timeline, with responsibilities allocated to each task to ensure everyone understands what they are required to deliver and when. If any deadline slips or moves, reissue this timeline. Keeping this live will give you clarity on whether you are on track, or if you need to allocate more resources to complete on time.
There are many online tools to do this, helping with live collaboration and the efficient raising of issues which can cause a project blockage. Alternatively, a Google document is just as effective.
4. Have Agreed Expectations
A defined outcome of what can be achieved in the time allowed should be agreed. If you turn in a project that is not what your client expected, you may have to do extra work, putting you under pressure to hit your deadline. Make sure this is clarified in advance, so you can prepare your time and resources adequately.
5. Breakdown the Project
Breaking down your project into smaller, more achievable tasks will make it easier to complete and less daunting. Addressing each step one at a time will help you focus your attention on the detail.
6. Allow Adequate Time for Each Task
If you do not diarise time-critical tasks, you can become side-tracked and miss them. Diarise time to work on each item and stick to it to ensure you do not fall behind on your deadlines.
Once you’ve completed a task, update your timeline or to-do list. Making progress and keeping others informed will help keep your project on track and prompt the next stage.
8. Be Honest
If for some reason, at any stage of a project, you realise you are not going to be able to meet a deadline, let people know. It is better to deliver this news when there is still time to lower expectations, allocate additional resource and complete the work on time, than to just miss the deadline. Remember, other people may have stages they need to achieve after you finish your work, so giving them notice of a missed deadline will prepare them and allow them to juggle their workload to accommodate this.
9. Be Prepared to Work Late
If your project has been poorly planned or your timeline has slipped, and you are up against a tight deadline, do whatever it takes to meet it. That may mean using additional resources or working long hours.
Working late means you work hard right? Well no not really, this is a misconception as someone who has to work late has not planned their day correctly and is ultimately inefficient.
10. Lessons Learnt
Once your project is complete, it is a good idea to review what worked and what didn’t, if mistakes were made, why and if your critical deadline slipped, what could you have done better or differently.
Learn from it, action your findings and onto the next one.