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Last Updated on December 4, 2020

7 Comprehensive Methods on How To Meet Deadlines

7 Comprehensive Methods on How To Meet Deadlines

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:

Task Completion

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.

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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.

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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[1]. 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.

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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[2].

Here’s the last card you can also try! Establish fake deadlines. A study published in the Journal of Consumer Research[3] 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.

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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. 

Conclusion

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

Featured photo credit: Miguelangel Miquelena via unsplash.com

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Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on January 6, 2021

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

Everyone has heard the term productivity, and people talk about it in terms of how high it is and how to improve it. But fewer know how to measure productivity, or even what exactly we are talking about when using the term “productivity.”

In its simplest form, the productivity formula looks like this: Output ÷ Input = Productivity.

For example, you have two salespeople each making 10 calls to customers per week. The first one averages 2 sales per week and the second one averages 3 sales per week. By plugging in the numbers we get the following productivity levels for each sales person.

For salesperson one, the output is 2 sales and the input is 10 sales: 2 ÷ 10 = .2 or 20% productivity. For salesperson two, the output is 3 sales and the input is 10 sales: 3 ÷ 10 = .3 or 30% productivity.

Knowing how to measure and interpret productivity is an invaluable asset for any manager or business owner in today’s world. As an example, in the above scenario, salesperson #1 is clearly not doing as well as salesperson #2.

Knowing this information we can now better determine what course of action to take with salesperson #1.

Some possible outcomes might be to require more in-house training for that salesperson, or to have them accompany the more productive salesperson to learn a better technique. It might be that salesperson #1 just isn’t suited for sales and would do a better job in a different position.

How to Measure Productivity With Management Techniques

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to fine tune your business by minimizing costs and maximizing profits:

1. Identify Long and Short-Term Goals

Having a good understanding of what you (or your company’s) goals are is key to measuring productivity.

For example, if your company’s goal is to maximize market share, you’ll want to measure your team’s productivity by their ability to acquire new customers, not necessarily on actual sales made.

2. Break Down Goals Into Smaller Weekly Objectives

Your long-term goal might be to get 1,000 new customers in a year. That’s going to be 20 new customers per week. If you have 5 people on your team, then each one needs to bring in 4 new customers per week.

Now that you’ve broken it down, you can track each person’s productivity week-by-week just by plugging in the numbers:

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Productivity = number of new customers ÷ number of sales calls made

3. Create a System

Have you ever noticed that whenever you walk into a McDonald’s, the French fry machine is always to your left? 

This is because McDonald’s created a system. They have determined that the most efficient way to set up a kitchen is to always have the French fry machine on the left when you walk in.

You can do the same thing and just adapt it to your business.

Let’s say that you know that your most productive salespeople are making the most sales between the hours of 3 and 7 pm. If the other salespeople are working from 9 am to 4 pm, you can potentially increase productivity through something as simple as adjusting the workday.

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to set up, monitor, and fine tune systems to maximize output.

4. Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate!

We’ve already touched on using these productivity numbers to evaluate and monitor your employees, but don’t forget to evaluate yourself using these same measurements.

If you have set up a system to track and measure employees’ performance, but you’re still not meeting goals, it may be time to look at your management style. After all, your management is a big part of the input side of our equation.

Are you more of a carrot or a stick type of manager? Maybe you can try being more of the opposite type to see if that changes productivity. Are you managing your employees as a group? Perhaps taking a more one-on-one approach would be a better way to utilize each individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

Just remember that you and your management style contribute directly to your employees’ productivity.

5. Use a Ratings Scale

Having clear and concise objectives for individual employees is a crucial part of any attempt to increase workplace productivity. Once you have set the goals or objectives, it’s important that your employees are given regular feedback regarding their progress.

Using a ratings scale is a good way to provide a standardized visual representation of progress. Using a scale of 1-5 or 1-10 is a good way to give clear and concise feedback on an individual basis.

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It’s also a good way to track long-term progress and growth in areas that need improvement.

6. Hire “Mystery Shoppers”

This is especially helpful in retail operations where customer service is critical. A mystery shopper can give feedback based on what a typical customer is likely to experience.

You can hire your own shopper, or there are firms that will provide them for you. No matter which route you choose, it’s important that the mystery shoppers have a standardized checklist for their evaluation.

You can request evaluations for your employees friendliness, how long it took to greet the shopper, employees’ knowledge of the products or services, and just about anything else that’s important to a retail operation.

7. Offer Feedback Forms

Using a feedback form is a great way to get direct input from existing customers. There are just a couple of things to keep in mind when using feedback forms.

First, keep the form short, 2-3 questions max with a space for any additional comments. Asking people to fill out a long form with lots of questions will significantly reduce the amount of information you receive.

Secondly, be aware that customers are much more likely to submit feedback forms when they are unhappy or have a complaint than when they are satisfied.

You can offset this tendency by asking everyone to take the survey at the end of their interaction. This will increase compliance and give you a broader range of customer experiences, which will help as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

8. Track Cost Effectiveness

This is a great metric to have, especially if your employees have some discretion over their budgets. You can track how much each person spends and how they spend it against their productivity.

Again, this one is easy to plug into the equation: Productivity = amount of money brought in ÷ amount of money spent.

Having this information is very useful in forecasting expenses and estimating budgets.

9. Use Self-Evaluations

Asking your staff to do self evaluations can be a win-win for everyone. Studies have shown that when employees feel that they are involved and their input is taken seriously, morale improves. And as we all know, high employee morale translates into higher productivity.

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Using self-evaluations is also a good way to make sure that the employees and employers goals are in alignment.

10. Monitor Time Management

This is the number one killer of productivity in the workplace. Time spent browsing the internet, playing games, checking email, and making personal calls all contribute to lower productivity[1].

Time Management Tips to Improve Productivity

    The trick is to limit these activities without becoming overbearing and affecting morale. Studies have shown that most people will adhere to rules that they feel are fair and applied to everyone equally.

    While ideally, we may think that none of these activities should be done on company time, employees will almost certainly have a different opinion. From a productivity standpoint, it is best to have policies and rules that are seen as fair to both sides as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

    11. Analyze New Customer Acquisition

    We’ve all heard the phrase that “It’s more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep an existing one.” And while that is very true, in order for your business to keep growing, you will need to continually add new customers.

    Knowing how to measure productivity via new customer acquisition will make sure that your marketing dollars are being spent in the most efficient way possible. This is another metric that’s easy to plug into the formula: Productivity = number of new customers ÷ amount of money spent to acquire those customers.

    For example, if you run any kind of advertising campaign, you can compare results and base your future spending accordingly.

    Let’s say that your total advertising budget is $3,000. You put $2,000 into television ads, $700 into radio ads, and $300 into print ads. When you track the results, you find that your television ad produced 50 new customers, your radio ad produced 15 new customers, and your print ad produced 9 new customers.

    Let’s plug those numbers into our equation. Television produced 50 new customers at a cost of $2,000 (50 ÷ 2000 = .025, or a productivity rate of 2.5%). The radio ads produced 15 new customers and cost $700 (15 ÷ 700 = .022, or a 2.2% productivity rate). Print ads brought in 9 new customers and cost $300 (9 ÷ 300 = .03, or a 3% return on productivity).

    From this analysis, it is clear that you would be getting the biggest bang for your advertising dollar using print ads.

    12. Utilize Peer Feedback

    This is especially useful when people who work in teams or groups. While self-assessments can be very useful, the average person is notoriously bad at assessing their own abilities.

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    Just ask a room full of people how many consider themselves to be an above average driver and you’ll see 70% of the hands go up[2]! Now we clearly know that in reality about 25% of drivers are below average, 25% are above average, and 50% are average.

    Are all these people lying? No, they just don’t have an accurate assessment of their own abilities.

    It’s the same in the workplace. Using peer feedback will often provide a more accurate assessment of a person’s ability than a self-assessment would.

    13. Encourage Innovation and Don’t Penalize Failure

    When it comes to productivity, encouraging employee input and adopting their ideas can be a great way to boost productivity. Just make sure that any changes you adopt translate into higher productivity.

    Let’s say that someone comes to you requesting an entertainment budget so that they can take potential customers golfing or out to dinner. By utilizing simple productivity metrics, you can easily produce a cost benefit analysis and either expand the program to the rest of the sales team, or terminate it completely.

    Either way, you have gained valuable knowledge and boosted morale by including employees in the decision-making process.

    14. Use an External Evaluator

    Using an external evaluator is the pinnacle of objective evaluations. Firms that provide professional evaluations use highly trained personnel that even specialize in specific industries.

    They will design a complete analysis of your business’ productivity level. In their final report, they will offer suggestions and recommendations on how to improve productivity.

    While the benefits of a professional evaluation are many, their costs make them prohibitive for most businesses.

    Final Thoughts

    These are just a few of the things you can do when learning how to measure productivity. Some may work for your particular situation, and some may not.

    The most important thing to remember when deciding how to track productivity is to choose a method consistent with your goals. Once you’ve decided on that, it’s just a matter of continuously monitoring your progress, making minor adjustments, and analyzing the results of those adjustments.

    The business world is changing fast, and having the right tools to track and monitor your productivity can give you the edge over your competition.

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    Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

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