Deadlines are significant when it comes to achieving your goals, both big and small. However, you won’t achieve success by establishing unrealistic deadlines for every task on your to-do list. You have to be strategic with setting deadlines that can empower you to become successful.
What do I mean by being strategic? It means every deadline you set should push you forward in the direction of your goal at every time interval. That way, you can stay motivated and record small wins. A huge target that is a month away can become burdensome or cause you to experience burnout. While the art of meeting deadlines is still a hard nut for most people to crack, you can step up your game by learning some practical ways to meet deadlines and the benefits.
Why Is It Essential to Meet Deadlines?
We set deadlines for the following reasons:
Deadlines enable you to avoid forgetting some tasks that have no specific endpoint. It also helps you to know when you are wasting too much time on a task.
Smooth Flow of Work
Deadlines facilitate effective collaboration when it comes to actualizing a shared goal. It also helps in taking out complex projects by breaking them into milestones.
Establish Clear Expectations
Deadlines stipulate what you are meant to do and when. It helps you to be in charge of your time and work.
Despite all these benefits, failure to meet deadlines can attract some grave consequences. A lot of competent people have been evicted from a team because they have failed to meet the deadline. Missed deadlines can destroy your reputation and limit your career progression, especially when it happens frequently.
At the corporate level, it can impact the reputation of the organization. Any delay can trigger a penalty clause in a contractual agreement, which can affect the bottom line of the company.
7 Comprehensive Methods to Meet Deadlines
Not everyone is a natural when it comes to doing work when they need to. Some get distracted, some procrastinate, and some simply have poor time management skills. Use the following methods to meet deadlines and get more done.
1. Evaluate the Job Requirement
The first thing to do is to understand the demands of the task. Ask yourself what the job entails. In most cases, the person who assigned you the job would have factored in the complexity of the task.
2. Secure the Right Resources
The next step is to ensure you have all you need to complete the job within the specified deadline. Does the job require training, research, technical support, people, or materials? If you don’t have all the required resources, you may request to have the deadline extended.
3. Make Rooms For Eventualities
Sometimes, things don’t work according to plan. It is reasonable to preempt potential problems. For instance, there could be a lockdown, equipment failure, illness, or the need to quickly take out an urgent and important task, all of which may affect your schedule.
These eventualities will have little impact on your schedule when you have taken time to consider them at the start of the project. You can brief a colleague to cover for you in an emergency, but ensure you delegate the task to the best hand.
4. Establish a Detailed Plan
You should create a comprehensive schedule. One way to do this is by breaking the tasks into milestones and setting a deadline for each of them.
Consequently, you will realize you need more time than the whole project permits. Endeavor to communicate this as an issue to your manager instead of hoping things will work out.
5. Position Yourself to Meet Deadlines
You are an essential factor when it comes to meeting deadlines. You need to learn how to manage yourself to meet deadlines. Meeting deadlines takes self-discipline, good habits, being organized, and the right mindset.
Here are some tips that can help you manage yourself to meet deadlines:
Learn to Say “No” – If possible, take the time to assess a deadline before you accept. Do not feel pressured to say yes if you can’t handle it.
Change Your Mindset – Avoid resenting deadlines. In the first place, you can do whatever you set your mind to. Deadlines can enable you to achieve a goal that you would normally discard.
Separate “Planning” From the “Real Action” – A plan is not effective until you act it out. Once you have come up with a plan, go all in to execute!
Maximize Your Time – Multitasking is not efficient. Manage your time properly so you can work effectively.
Eliminate Bad Habits – If you are a master at procrastinating, figure out how to address it. Try these hacks to get you on track to overcome your tendency to procrastinate.
Find Your Triggers – A recent study revealed that deadlines just don’t cut it for some people((Jstor: The Effect of Individual Perceptions of Deadlines on Team Performance)). If you are one of them, find what spurs you into action. Is it a reward, doing a quality job, recognition, or saving time up to enjoy what interests you?
Make Your Guesses More Accurate – You could be wrong by attempting to guess how long it will take to complete a project. Guessing could be more burdensome when you are taking on a new task. Practice with deadlines will ultimately help you identify how long a particular task will take, so be patient.
Make it a habit to meet deadlines. You can start with smaller deadlines: brush teeth by 6 am, exercise by 6:30 am, read by 12 pm; apply the same strategy to take out more significant tasks.
6. Assist Others to Meet Deadlines
This applies mostly to managers. You know who is capable of meeting deadlines and who needs your support.
Recall, once you set deadlines for others, you transfer responsibilities to them. However, you still need to support them to succeed. For instance, motivate them to manage the pressure that comes with meeting deadlines.
Find out regularly if they are having issues, or create a reporting system to follow up on progress.
If possible, allow your team to establish their deadlines. Research has found that permitting your workers to show initiative can improve their productivity((SAGEJournal: Procrastination, Deadlines, and Performance: Self-Control by Precommitment)).
Here’s the last card you can also try! Establish fake deadlines. A study published in the Journal of Consumer Research((Journal of Consumer Research: The Categorization of Time and Its Impact on Task Initiation)) showed that deadlines set before the actual due date motivate people to start quickly instead of later, which may inform procrastination. You can tell your team that you need their input before you do.
7. Limit the Consequences of a Missed Deadline
Despite all your efforts, you might still fail to meet your deadlines. In case this happens, relax and try as much as possible to minimize the damage. Communication is highly important when working on a project. You can’t just keep mute through it all and expect other stakeholders to understand. As you make progress on the task, figure out possible challenges that disrupt your plan and show that you are preparing for eventualities.
Then, if you fail to meet deadlines, others will understand and will be ready to assist you. In this case, manage the present issues as soon as you can and consent to adhere to a new schedule. Then, review your project to know what occurred and how to prevent it from happening again.
However, missing a deadline can come with grave consequences, so be careful. For instance, if you are working as a freelancer or an agency, the other party can terminate the contract and pass you a bad review. Missing a deadline can tarnish the image of your brand. This is why you generally can’t afford to miss the deadline. Take responsibility and stop making excuses if you want to make an impact. Focus on your tasks and get things done.
Deadlines are established to facilitate the smooth running of any project. It enables everyone to work on a shared goal.
You need to develop the right mentality and attitude to become successful at meeting deadlines. Maximize your time and believe that you can do anything you set your mind to do. Once you believe in yourself and put yourself in the right mind space, you’ll find you are able to meet deadlines more consistently.
More Tips on How to Meet Deadlines
22 Tips For Effective Deadlines
How to Work More Efficiently and Stop Rushing to Meet Deadlines
Living With Your Deadlines