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Published on November 5, 2018

How to Work More Efficiently and Stop Rushing to Meet Deadlines

How to Work More Efficiently and Stop Rushing to Meet Deadlines

Are you one of those people who is always rushing behind time to meet their deadlines and get their work done? Well, if such is the case with you then this article is meant exactly for you.

If you are always running late with your deadlines and out of time to get a job done, have you ever stopped to consider that perhaps something is wrong with your efficiency? Or maybe, it could be your time management skills which are putting you behind the clock and always making you late for your deadlines.

This article will get you some practical tips on how to work more efficiently.

Why Is It Important to Become More Efficient and Meet Deadlines on Time?

Being unproductive can counter satisfaction and life goals in the long run. Before you even realise it, you will find yourself struggling to attain basic happiness in life and you will find yourself engaged in a never ending web of pending jobs.

Hence, in order to remain competitive at your work place and be regarded as a valued human resource of your organization, it might be a good idea to pull up your socks and stop rushing to meet deadlines each time.

Here are some tips that will help you improve your game and become a more enthusiastic person in life, who manages to meet his deadlines and remain a productive person:

1. Identify and eliminate all unproductive jobs from your schedule

This could mean that you need to shut down your phone while you are working or that you need to give up your Netflix subscription or anything else.

Only you can define what is it that takes away your attention and time while you are working. It is in your good to identify them at the earliest and get rid of them.

Social media is one of the major areas which distracts many people. If that is the case with you, find ways to keep yourself off the sites and devote your time to work instead.

2. Start by setting up small deadlines for yourself

Meeting a bigger deadline with a huge work load might be tricky when you are trying to bring yourself on track. Instead, give yourself short term goals such as, ‘I am not going to use my phone for social media browsing for the next one hour’.

Stick to these goals and find yourself at a happier place when you meet them. Slowly, this will put you in a habit to meet your goals and prepare you to meet the bigger goals as well.

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3. Identify jobs that can be delegated

Delegate works to others and free up your time to attend important tasks that only you can perform:

How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

4. Upgrade your skill set

Upgrade your skill set to acquire knowledge and talent that will help you stand out from the rest of your fleet. This will help you perform your work with excellence and meet your targets on time.

5. Start by doing jobs that need to be done first

This will keep your work on track and avoid the last minute rush to get the important jobs done.

6. Prioritzse your work

Attend those jobs first which require your attention immediately and save the remaining jobs for later in the day. This will help you stay updated with your task list and attend to priority jobs first.

You will find that your schedule gradually eases up as you get your jobs done one by one. This will also free up your time for attending other jobs, which are not as important in nature.

9 Useful Tactics to Tackle Deadlines And Work Efficiently

No matter what their profession might be, every person struggles to meet deadlines at one or more times in their work careers. Deadlines tend to create an immense load of stress on those who are bound to meet them.

Moreover, missing a deadline is an adverse outcome that most productive people tend to avoid under all circumstances. Fortunately enough for most of the hard working people out there, here are some common and useful tactics that can help you tackle even the scariest and tackiest deadlines ever.

Let us take a look at these life saving tips, which have been divided in three phases, for the convenience of your understanding.

Before Starting a Project

Your aim to become more efficient and manage your deadlines should ideally emanate right from the time when you plan to start a project.

1. Set the scope of that project straight before you

Before beginning to work on a project, set the scope of that project straight before you. This will help you understand the context of work which you are required to undertake during the interim of the project.

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This involves anticipating the volume of work that requires completing before the arrival of a deadline. While doing so, also keep provision for some extra time so that in the event that you encounter something unexpected, you are able to solve the matter, without disturbing the timeline of your deadline.

2. Think twice before you commit to a new project

At the same time, it makes sense to account for your existing project works before you commit to another one. All in all, at this stage, you are required to do everything that ensures that you have ample time to meet the time committed by you.

During the Project

This is the stage when you are actually going to be doing everything to meet your deadlines and remain efficient at your job.

3. Focus on starting the job at the earliest

At this stage, your aim should be focus on starting the job at the earliest. Procrastination is a bane that can put you in a state of desperation as your deadline approaches. Waiting for the last minute to start a project can be largely counterproductive and put you behind on the clock.

4. Stay focus on tasks which are top on your priority list

The best strategy that you can adopt at this stage is to choose tasks which are top on your priority list. The most important and most difficult tasks must be done first.

Adopt time management strategies to stay in line with the clock. Staying focused on your work area goes a long way in making you a more productive person. Thus, it would be very helpful for you if you adopt a healthy lifestyle, eat right and take the perfect rest.

Also, keep your work area free of distractions, so that you are not pushed to divert your focus for something which is not a priority.

5. Track your progress

Time and again, you must take steps to track your progress and check what portion of your goals have been met in the process of completing your jobs. Give yourself short term goals, which are always easier to meet.

Alongside these short term goals, make it a habit to check your daily progress, which will give you an accurate idea about what you have accomplished and what remains to be accomplished.

If you are lagging behind on your goals, this will also help you manage your time better, to meet your goals in time.

6. Suspend activities that don’t contribute to your goals

Sometimes, it might be essential for you to suspend various activities which do not contribute to your goals and work. By this, you should directly understand the impact of activities such as social media, which tend to disturb your focus, attention and schedule.

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Hence, shunning out social media and like activities, would be a wise decision, until you get over a tight deadline.

If needed, you can also take the assistance of helpers to meet an impending job. Amidst this entire process, do not forget to keep a tab on your work and ensure that it is up to the mark.

Before turning it in, you should be sure about the correctness of the job. After all, there is no point in doing a job simply for the purpose of doing it, unless it does not bear the fruits that you expected.

In fact, it makes more sense to ask for some more time to get a job done, instead of submitting a half done job or something that is not up to the mark.

After the Project Is Done

Simply submitting a project work does not mean that your work is done. There are still some more things that you can do to improve your efficiency and become a more productive person in the long run.

7. Submit your project work before time to the client

You can try and submit your project work before time to the client, in order to make more time for other projects, which can then be completed on time as well.

Moreover, it gives you the added advantage of making an impression on the client. This way, you will be entrusted with further jobs, which is good for your economics.

8. Confirm receipt of the project

The next most important thing that you must do is to confirm receipt of the project. Even in these times of technological advancement, there are huge chances of the client blaming you for non-receipt of the project within the stipulated time. Hence, the one thing which you must absolutely do after submitting your project, is to confirm if it has been received by the client.

Also, make it a point to bill your work promptly so that you can receive your dues within a reasonable time, keeping things flowing for you.

9. Get client feedback

Amidst this entire scenario, it is absolutely important to get client feedback for the work submitted by you. This will help you analyse if the quality of work done by you is satisfactory. Once you receive a positive response to your work, you will feel more motivated to meet your work deadlines in time.

The Lazy Guy’s Guide to Stop Missing Deadlines

This being said, here is a quick guide for the lazy procrastinator in you, who is tired of missing deadlines, so that you can manage to meet some of them in time.

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1. Your focus should be on when it needs to be done, instead of focusing on what needs to be done.

The deadline of the project sometimes becomes the deciding factor in determining the quality of your output and your ability to complete it on time.

Deadlines are dreaded because people feel restricted because of them. Hence, one way to get over the dread is to negotiate and set them with your client at your own comfort.

2. Sometimes, some people miss deadlines because of you.

Sometimes, some people tend to miss deadlines, not because they are lazy or because they are unable to complete the job on time.

At times, the reason for missed deadlines is a lack of satisfaction with the quality of work performed by you. In this situation, you need to understand that aiming for perfection is a good quality but only as long as it does not hamper your deadlines.

The moment that begins to happen, it would be in your interest to shift your focus on meeting your deadlines instead of trying to be perfect.

3. Always try to work together with both, short term and long term deadlines.

The short term deadlines aim to keep you motivated and interested in your job whereas long term deadlines aim to build your overall target for achieving long term objectives.

4. Never try to overstep beyond the space of your room.

Engage yourself in work that equals only as much in quantity as you have the time to tackle with. Fill your plate with only as much work that you can handle.

5. Aim to settle down for fixed hours when working on your projects.

If you bring major variation in your working hours, then you are bound to give yourself excuses to work late or postpone a particular task for another time of the day.

Final Thoughts

Being late takes no time to turn into a psychological disorder and before you know it, it becomes a habit that you keep cultivating within you for an infinite time.

If this is the case with you, perhaps it is time to stop blaming time and start introspecting what is wrong with your schedule, so that you can become a more efficient person and begin meeting your deadlines.

With my practical tips above, you’ll quit the habit of rushing deadlines and start working efficiently.

Featured photo credit: A L L E F . V I N I C I U S Δ via unsplash.com

More by this author

Ankit Garg

Serial entrepreneur and working towards Early Retirement

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Last Updated on March 21, 2019

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

Most gurus talk about habits in a way that doesn’t help you:

You need to push yourself more. You can’t be lazy. You need to wake up at 5 am. You need more motivation. You can never fail…blah blah “insert more gibberish here.”

But let me share with you the unconventional truths I found out:

To build and change habits, you don’t need motivation or wake up at 5 am. Heck, you can fail multiple times, be lazy, have no motivation and still pull it off with ease.

It’s quite simple and easy to do, especially with the following list I’m going to show to you. But remember, Jim Rohn used to say,

“What is simple and easy to do is also simple and easy not to do.”

The important things to remember when changing your habits are both simple and easy, just don’t think that they don’t make any difference because they do.

In fact, they are the only things that make a difference.

Let’s see what those small things are, shall we?

1. Start Small

The biggest mistake I see people doing with habits is by going big. You don’t go big…ever. You start small with your habits.

Want to grow a book reading habit? Don’t start reading a book a day. Start with 10 pages a day.

Want to become a writer? Don’t start writing 10,000 words a day. Start with 300 words.

Want to lose weight? Don’t stop eating ice cream. Eat one less ball of it.

Whatever it is, you need to start small. Starting big always leads to failure. It has to, because it’s not sustainable.

Start small. How small? The amount needs to be in your comfort zone. So if you think that reading 20 pages of a book is a bit too much, start with 10 or 5.

It needs to appear easy and be easy to do.

Do less today to do more in a year.

2. Stay Small

There is a notion of Kaizen which means continuous improvement. They use this notion in habits where they tell you to start with reading 1 page of a book a day and then gradually increase the amount you do over time.

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But the problem with this approach is the end line — where the “improvement” stops.

If I go from reading 1 page of a book a day and gradually reach 75 and 100, when do I stop? When I reach 1 book a day? That is just absurd.

When you start a habit, stay at it in the intensity you have decided. Don’t push yourself for more.

I started reading 20 pages of a book a day. It’s been more than 2 years now and I’ve read 101 books in that period. There is no way I will increase the number in the future.

Why?

Because reading 40 to 50 books a year is enough.

The same thing applies to every other habit out there.

Pick a (small) number and stay at it.

3. Bad Days Are 100 Percent Occurrence

No matter how great you are, you will have bad days where you won’t do your habit. Period.

There is no way of going around this. So it’s better to prepare yourself for when that happens instead of thinking that it won’t ever happen.

What I do when I miss a day of my habit(s) is that I try to bounce back the next day while trying to do habits for both of those days.

Example for that is if I read 20 pages of a book a day and I miss a day, the next day I will have to read 40 pages of a book. If I miss writing 500 words, the next day I need to write 1000.

This is a really important point we will discuss later on rewards and punishments.

This is how I prepare for the bad days when I skip my habit(s) and it’s a model you should take as well.

4. Those Who Track It, Hack It

When you track an activity, you can objectively tell what you did in the past days, weeks, months, and years. If you don’t track, you will for sure forget everything you did.

There are many different ways you can track your activities today, from Habitica to a simple Excel sheet that I use, to even a Whatsapp Tracker.

Peter Drucker said,

“What you track is what you do.”

So track it to do it — it really helps.

But tracking is accompanied by one more easy activity — measuring.

5. Measure Once, Do Twice

Peter Drucker also said,

“What you measure is what you improve.”

So alongside my tracker, I have numbers with which I measure doses of daily activities:

For reading, it’s 20 pages.
For writing, it’s 500 words.
For the gym, it’s 1 (I went) or 0 (didn’t go).
For budgeting, it’s writing down the incomes and expenses.

Tracking and measuring go hand in hand, they take less than 20 seconds a day but they create so much momentum that it’s unbelievable.

6. All Days Make a Difference

Will one day in the gym make you fit? It won’t.

Will two? They won’t.

Will three? They won’t.

Which means that a single gym session won’t make you fit. But after 100 gym sessions, you will look and feel fit.

What happened? Which one made you fit?

The answer to this (Sorites paradox)[1] is that no single gym session made you fit, they all did.

No single day makes a difference, but when combined, they all do. So trust the process and keep on going (small).

7. They Are Never Fully Automated

Gurus tell you that habits become automatic. And yes, some of them do, like showering a certain way of brushing your teeth.

But some habits don’t become automatic, they become a lifestyle.

What I mean by that is that you won’t automatically “wake up” in the gym and wonder how you got there.

It will just become a part of your lifestyle.

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The difference is that you do the first one automatically, without conscious thought, while the other is a part of how you live your life.

It’s not automatic, but it’s a decision you don’t ponder on or think about — you simply do it.

It will become easy at a certain point, but they will never become fully automated.

8. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

Marshall Goldsmith has a great book with the same title to it. The phrase means that sometimes, you will need to ditch certain habits to make room for other ones which will bring you to the next step.

Don’t be afraid to evolve your habits when you sense that they don’t bring you where you want to go.

When I started reading, it was about reading business and tactic books. But two years into it, I switched to philosophy books which don’t teach me anything “applicable,” but instead teach me how to think.

The most important ability of the 21st century is the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. The strongest tree is the willow tree – not because it has the strongest root or biggest trunk, but because it is flexible enough to endure and sustain anything.

Be like a willow, adapting to the new ways of doing things.

9. Set a Goal and Then Forget It

The most successful of us know what they want to achieve, but they don’t focus on it.

Sounds paradoxical? You’re right, it does. But here is the logic behind it.

You need to have a goal of doing something – “I want to become a healthy individual” – and then, you need to reverse engineer how to get there with your habits- “I will go to the gym four times a week.”

But once you have your goal, you need to “forget” about it and only focus on the process. Because you are working on the process of becoming healthy and it’s always in the making. You will only be as healthy as you take care of your body.

So you have a goal which isn’t static but keeps on moving.

If you went to the gym 150 times year and you hit your goal, what would you do then? You would stop going to the gym.

This is why goal-oriented people experience yo-yo effect[2] and why process-oriented people don’t.

The difference between process-oriented and goal-oriented people is that the first focus on daily actions while others only focus on the reward at the finish line.

Set a goal but then forget about it and reap massive awards.

10. Punish Yourself

Last two sections are pure Pavlovian – you need to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior. You are the only person who decides what is good and what is bad for you, but when you do, you need to rigorously follow that.

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I’ve told you in point #3 about bad days and how after one occurs, I do double the work on the next day. That is one of my forms of punishments.

It’s the need to tell your brain that certain behaviors are unacceptable and that they lead to bad outcomes. That’s what punishments are for.

You want to tell your brain that there are real consequences to missing your daily habits.[3]

No favorite food to eat or favorite show to watch or going to the cinema for a new Marvel movie- none, zero, zilch.

The brain will remember these bad feelings and will try to avoid the behaviors that led to them as much as possible.

But don’t forget the other side of the same coin.

11. Reward Yourself

When you follow and execute on your plan, reward yourself. It’s how the brain knows that you did something good.

Whenever I finish one of my habits for the day, I open my tracker (who am I kidding, I always keep it open on my desktop) and fill it with a number. As soon as I finish reading 20 pages of a book a day (or a bit more), I open the tracker and write the number down.

The cell becomes green and gives me an instant boost of endorphin – a great success for the day. Then, it becomes all about not breaking the chain and having as many green fields as possible.

After 100 days, I crunch some numbers and see how I did.

If I have less than 10 cheat days, I reward myself with a great meal in a restaurant. You can create your own rewards and they can be daily, weekly, monthly or any arbitrary time table that you create.

Primoz Bozic, a productivity coach, has gold, silver, and bronze medals as his reward system.[4]

If you’re having problems creating a system which works for you, contact me via email and we can discuss specifics.

In the End, It Matters

What you do matters not only to you but to the people around you.

When you increase the quality of your life, you indirectly increase the quality of life of people around you. And sometimes, that is all the “motivation” we need to start.

And that’s the best quote for the end of this article:

“Motivation gets you started, but habits keep you going.”

Keep going.

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More Resources to Help You Build Habits

Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Sorites paradox
[2] Muscle Zone: What causes yo-yo effect and how to avoid it?
[3] Growth Habits: 5 Missteps That Cause You To Quit Building A Habit
[4] Primoz Bozic: The Lean Review: How to Plan Your 2019 in 20 Minutes

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