You know the feeling – the sinking realization that you’re going to miss a deadline. Or, even worse, the sudden realization that a deadline has passed, and that – oh no! – you’ve completely blown it.
Here are 5 fail-safe tips to ensure that deadlines everywhere remain under your command.
1. Keep a Morning Ritual
After the drive to work and the coffee, but before digging into to your inbox, make a list. There are probably already a bunch of to-dos floating around in your head, so get them up on your Wunderlist and take stock of what the day has in store.
Once you’ve downloaded everything from your brain, check your calendar(s) and add any scheduled calls, meetings or tasks for the day to your list. Which reminds us…
2. Keep an Obsessive Calendar
It may sound obvious, but one of the best ways to never miss a deadline is to simply get friendly with your calendar. Whether you’re using Google Calendars, iCal or Outlook, cloud-based calendars are packed with cool functions that refuse to let you forget what you have going on!
Set reminders for yourself, so that no matter how busy you get, you won’t be able to ignore the strategically-timed texts, emails and even phone calls from your virtual calendar assistant.
You’ll never miss a deadline if you allow yourself more time than you actually need to complete a given task or project. Commit twice as much time as you think you’ll need when planning to meet your deadline. That way, when the inevitable pops up, you’ll still have plenty of time to finish what needs to get done.
4. Set Milestones
An enormous goal and a looming deadline can be overwhelming, and nothing is more likely to make you miss your deadline than stress and anxiety. Break up projects into small, measurable goals that can be tracked by you, your team and the client. This way everyone feels like you’re making progress, the work can be evaluated and tweaked as you go, and the fate of the entire project is never at stake.
So what if the worst case scenario happens, and you are going to miss a deadline? Act fast! The second you realize you’re not going to be able to meet your deadline, stop everything. Take a deep breath, and determine who this impacts first and foremost, and how to best communicate the news without alarming anyone.
Next, develop a plan of action. If you won’t have things finished by Monday, when will you have things finished? Figure out a way for the extra time to add value to your project, and if possible, frame your missed deadline as a needed “extension” to the work.
If all else fails, admit that you made a mistake and apologize. Then go back to the drawing board, and take a second look at steps 1 through 4!
How do you make sure you never miss a deadline?
photo credit: fisher.osu.edu