Do you have trouble finishing your work in a timely manner?
Are you looking for some tips on how to meet a deadline…on time?
As unbelievable as this may sound, it is entirely possible to meet your deadlines.
All you need is a little bit of planning, and a lot of determination.
In this post, I offer four simple tips that will help you meet deadlines on time.
Follow these practical time management tips, and you’ll be one step closer towards meeting your deadlines.
Begin work as soon as possible.
What’s the easiest way to ensure you’ll have enough time to complete your work in a calm, cool, and collected manner?
Why, it’s simply to begin your work as soon as possible!
Whenever you receive a project or assignment at work or school, you should begin work on it that very same day; at the most, within a few days. Why is this? Well, you want to break through that initial resistance that tends to bubble up whenever you’re faced with a new endeavor. You want to do everything you can to get things started…which includes taking action.
Do keep in mind, by no means do you have to finish the entire project in a single sitting. All you have to do is take one step forward. Even the smallest of steps matters! After all, when you take that first step, you’ll be one step further along in your project than you were five minutes ago.
So, what types of first steps could you take when it comes to your work? How about thoroughly reviewing and scheduling that assignment? Doing some preliminary research or brainstorming some project ideas? How about drafting a letter or sketching a diagram?
Do a little bit of work each day.
It’s tremendously important you put in regular hours towards your project. When you do so, you’ll see major progress over the course of days, and weeks. All of those tiny bits of time do add up, and they tend to add up in a big way.
Let’s say you have to work on a written report that’s due in a month’s time. Instead of slaving away for tens of hours on end at the last-minute, you can simply schedule one hour per day to work on your project. If you consistently work on your report for that one hour, each weekday, you’ll have put in 20 hours of work over the course of four weeks. That’s not bad for working a mere sixty minutes each day!
Now, think about an upcoming project of yours. Wouldn’t it be easier to do a little bit of work each day, instead of waiting until the night before to finish it? Take a moment to schedule in a regular slot of time into your calendar so you can do your work.
Be aware of your habits when it comes to procrastination.
Procrastination can shut down even the most well-planned, and well-intentioned of projects. The only question is: do you know when you procrastinate? Being aware of your actions and habits is key if you want to reach a deadline.
For example, do you put off making those phone calls until the end of the day when it’s too late to call your contacts? Do you fiddle with the office toys on your desk instead of walking over to the finance department to discuss an invoice? Do you suddenly find yourself cleaning under your bed and doing loads of laundry when that math problem set is due?
Once you can identify your habits as they relate to procrastination, you can do something about them by taking necessary action. You can force yourself to take care of tasks at the beginning of the day, rather than at the end, you can snap yourself out of those cubicle distractions and take that walk to finance, and make sure you’re in a place that’s conducive to working, such as the library or study center.
Try thinking about where and when you procrastinate during the day. What steps could you take to ensure that you get on with your work?
Add in a time buffer.
When it comes to working towards a deadline, you can’t go wrong by giving yourself a buffer of time that’s well in advance of your deadline. This is so you can anticipate and properly deal with the things that inevitably come up in life: questions, changes, revisions, delays, unforeseen circumstances, etc.
How do create a time buffer? Well, it’s quite simple, really. All you have to do is work backwards from your deadline date, and calculate a personal deadline for yourself. Let’s see how this works in action…
Let’s say you’re working on a presentation that is going to take place on the 25th of the month. Instead of working up right to the very last-minute on the 25th, you’d count back several days and pencil in a personal deadline of the 15th. This gives you time to not only work on your project, but you have several days available to you in case there is a last-minute emergency, or if you need to beef up your presentation skills.
Where could you add a time buffer to your projects and assignments? Could you schedule personal deadline that’s a few days or perhaps a week or two earlier than the official due date?
How about you? What do you think is the most challenging thing about meeting a deadline? What steps are you going to take today, to ensure a project gets underway? Join in the conversation and leave a comment below!
A version of this post appeared on the blog in 2015.