Missing deadlines is among the cardinal sins of the workplace. Without proper time management skills, you are likely to find yourself frantically trying to beat a deadline at the last minute. Missing deadlines can slow down projects and put your employment in jeopardy.
Procrastination is the cradle of missing deadlines but overcoming the vice is possible through dedication and planning. Below are some tips that can help you avoid missing deadlines.
1. Break large projects into bite-sized milestones
If a deadline is due a few days or weeks away, you may think that there is more than sufficient time to complete a project. However, you will be surprised at how quickly you will miss the deadline. Deadlines help you to stay disciplined and committed to executing a task. Break down a project into smaller bits that can be done in stages to ensure you are not caught in a rush to beat the deadline.
2. Make an early deadline
One way in which you can ensure you do not miss a deadline is to give yourself an early deadline. If a task has to be completed by evening, strive to complete it before noon. An early deadline will motivate and enable you to stay focused on executing the task at hand. It also feels good to finish a project earlier than its deadline.
3. Visualize the consequences of missing the deadline
Missing personal, school or work deadlines has consequences. The consequences may mean missed opportunities, delays in implementation of a project or piling up of work. For employees, it may mean poor performance reports, missed bonuses or even dismissals. Visualizing the consequences of a missed deadline can motivate you to finish a task on time.
4. Do a weekly review
At the end of every week, review the tasks that you did and the deadlines coming the following week. This will help you stay focused and know the upcoming urgent tasks that have to be completed. You will also have time to make alternative plans for a project, if necessary.
5. Plan your project a day before
Before you end your day, plan for the tasks you will have to complete the next day. You should start working on your project after planning and getting all the necessary items that will be required for the task. Otherwise, you will end up wasting time running up and down to get the items required for the project.
6. Have a cushion for the unexpected
According to Murphy’s laws, you should always the unexpected when doing a project. Unforeseen circumstances can make it difficult for you to finish your task on time. Therefore, have a plan B for your project. If a project is supposed to be completed in seven days, give yourself a deadline of four days. This way, if something happens and disrupts your plan of executing the project, you will still have some time to beat the deadline.
7. Reward yourself for completing your milestones
Rewarding yourself can motivate and keep you to meet your deadlines. If you have broken down your tasks into mini-deadlines , reward yourself for meeting the deadlines. For example, you can gift yourself or go for dinner with your friend. Another option would be to abstain from your addiction e.g. chocolate, beer, cigarettes or others until you meet the mini-deadline.
8. Plan ahead
To ensure you do not miss a deadline, plan ahead for your task. Find out what you will need to successfully carry out the project, how the items fit in the whole task and how easy or difficult it is to access the materials. Outline the steps you will need to follow to complete the task before you start execution.
9. Get organized with technology
Technology can help you manage your projects more efficiently. Tools like My Client Spot can help you track time and collaborate on projects with your team. Using tools like these that can significantly improve your project organization and help you meet deadlines. Go through the project to be done and use technology where possible when executing.
Write down the projects you have to do and prioritize them. The priorities can be based on how comfortable you are with doing a project. For example, some people prefer starting with difficult projects and leaving the easier ones for last. Your priority should go hand in hand with the deadlines of the projects. Projects with early deadlines should be done before others.
Missing deadlines may seem inevitable but you can stop the habit through these tips, and through discipline and planning.