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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
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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

Reference

More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

A Complete Guide to Goal Setting for Personal Success How to Get Motivated Every Day When You Wake Up Can’t Focus? The Mistake You’re Making and How to Focus Better 17 Traits That Make a Successful Person Stand out from the Crowd What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

More on Building Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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