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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

Reference

More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on April 22, 2021

How to Work Hard the Smart Way: 4 Daily Rituals to Follow

How to Work Hard the Smart Way: 4 Daily Rituals to Follow

Habits are what sets an average leader apart from a great leader. We can argue that talent is the biggest factor; we may debate how the amount of charisma sets the two apart. Yet, if you were to show me what you believed to be a great leader, I can show you the habits that made her/him great. Great leaders have great habits and know how to work hard the smart way.

Developing Great Habits Is Hard Work

In my early college days, I had spent a lot of time learning how to play the trumpet. Playing the trumpet took time and discipline. I had some natural talent, but not enough to hide my lack of ability. My trumpet teacher was a man of discipline, and there was no doubt he had talent. What stood to me was his work ethic. He had to be one of the hardest working mentors that I had the privilege of working with.

One afternoon, I was in his office getting ready for my weekly trumpet lesson. As I was preparing, my eyes scanned the room and saw that there were quotes all over his office. My eyes rested on one quote that forever changed my thinking about my playing. It was a quote from my high school basketball coach Tim Notke that would become popular through professional athletes Kevin Durant and Tim Tebow:

“Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.”

Hard work trumps talent. The key to success is not found in your talent or ability. Talent and ability are necessary, but they are not the primary factors. They are supporting roles in the story you are writing.

Ultimately, hard work is the key to your success. A good work ethic creates the momentum that propels you forward towards your goals.

Motivation Is Not the Answer

How many times have you seen someone go to a conference, get inspired, and then come home and do nothing?

If motivation were the answer, the world would have transformed hundreds of times over. Yet, when we look out our doors or turn on the news, we do not see a utopian society.

We have thousands of people who become inspired but lack the work ethic to apply anything they have learned. Time and time again frustration creeps in. We are so motivated and inspired by what we see but fail to put in place the things that would change our lives.

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Frustration happens when the gap between what you expect to be true and what is true gets bigger. Motivation tends to create an expectation that is not rooted in reality. We want to take on the world but cannot get off Netflix long enough to do so.

Motivation is not the answer, but working hard is. Good habits and routines that produce success are the byproducts of a strong work ethic. The habits and routines we create and follow are the foundation on which we build a winning life.

How to Work Hard by Working Smarter

Here are 4 routines that will help you learn how to work hard and achieve your short term and long term goals.

1. Define What a Win Looks Like

In football, a player that crosses into the end zone gain points. In soccer, a player kicks the ball into the net to score. Hockey, lacrosse, and basketball are all the same. The player takes the object and moves it into the designated area to gain points. The team with the most points wins the game.

Why is it that we can define what a win looks like in sports, but we fail to do so in our leadership, our businesses, or our homes?

Learning how to work hard without setting a target is futile. It is insanity to work hard without having a clear direction to place your energy. I would argue that defining a win is one of the most important routines that a leader can have. Defining a win separates superficial activity from meaningful activity.

When I define a win, I know the goal line I have to cross[1]. Knowing where the goal line is informs me of the activity I have to engage in to cross it. Without a clear direction, I am spinning my wheels hoping that I will get to a destination I haven’t defined. It is like asking a GPS for directions but failing to input the destination.

4 Steps to Define a Win
  • Know the outcome you desire.
  • Declare the outcome in specific, meaningful terms.
  • Write the outcome down.
  • Set your activity list to only do that which will complete your goals.

Let me give you an example. 15 years ago, I started speaking professionally. As a young and naïve speaker, I thought winning meant that I had to get a reaction from the audience. If they cheered, smiled, or cried, I considered myself a winner. The problem was my lack of understanding of what a win looked like. As a seasoned speaker, my wins look different.

As of today, when I speak, I am not looking for any emotional reactions from the audience. I win if, and only if, I clearly communicated my point so that anyone hearing the talk can take it and apply it to their lives that day. That is how I define a win when I speak now.

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Create a habit of declaring a win. When you do, you will see your productivity soar and your encouragement increase. Pairing a hard work ethic with wise decisions creates victory. Stop being a mouse on a wheel that goes nowhere, and start being the captain of your fleet.

2. Evaluate Your Activity

Not all activity is equal. There are things you must do, things you need to do, and things we can either give away or delete. The greatest challenge of a leader is understanding the difference. Understanding what activity is busywork and what activity is mission work is pivotal.

Not only do we need to learn how to evaluate our activity, but we must make this a core routine in our arsenal of success. Stop working so hard on everything and start learning how to work hard on the right things.

Not every activity will move the needle forward for you. In fact, you were never meant to do everything yourself! Once we stop trying to be a martyr in our leadership, we can start looking at how to take things off our plates through delegation.

Based on the Eisenhower box, there are 4 things that we look at when deciding on which activities are important:

  • Do now
  • Plan to do it later
  • Delegate to someone else
  • Delete it

Powerful questions are the way you discover if the activity is right or not:

  • Does this activity move me towards or away from my goals?
  • Do I have to do this activity or can I give this activity away to someone else?
  • Does this activity have to be now right now or can it be scheduled for later dates?
  • Does this activity have to be done at all?

Evaluating the type of activity you engage in should be a routine that you do daily. Learning how to work hard should create progress. Having a system of evaluation and a routine to do it will help.

3. Prioritize Your Calendar

If you were to show me your calendar, I could show you why you are not further along. When you lack the routine of placing things on your calendar, two things happen.

First, what does not make it on your calendar does not get done.

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It is a simple truth that is often overlooked. Your calendar contains the power to change your life. Yet, we don’t use our calendars to their fullest potential.

“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” -John C. Maxwell

Also, if you don’t mark you activities on your calendar, you are leaving it open to other’s priorities.

“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” -Stephen Covey

Having a routine in your life where you place things on your calendar is pivotal to your success. This is not a routine one should overlook.

It’s time to take your leadership and business to the next level. It’s time to start putting your daily routines on your calendar, along with your priorities.

4. Reflect on Your Day and Plan the Next

We are all about the morning routine. Whatever that looks like for you, there should be a routine in the morning that sets you up for success.

Hard work starts when your feet hit the ground in the morning. Creating the habit of winning starts with the first thing you accomplish that morning. If you win your morning, you will win your day.

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Best Morning Routine to Prepare to Work Hard

    But how often have you heard people talk about an evening routine? Tomorrow is won the day before it happens. When you fail to plan your day, you may put your effort toward in the wrong things. Route replaces routine. Indecision replaces decisiveness. Losses replace wins. The discouragement will deflate your momentum and increases the chances of procrastination. That is why we set our schedule the night before.

    “Every battle is won or lost before it is ever fought.” -Sun Tzu

    Working hard doesn’t have to be hard work. It shouldn’t take much out of you learn how to work hard as long as you work smart. Having a time where you reflect on the day and set your priorities is the difference-maker.

    Use these questions to reflect on your day:

    • What went well?
    • What didn’t go well?
    • What can I change?
    • What do I need to start doing?
    • What do I need to stop doing?

    The Bottom Line

    Navigating through life is hard work. Yet, the work doesn’t have to be hard when you work smarter. When you create routines that support your mission, you create wins. Working hard, the smart way will tip the balance in our favor.

    Boxing legend Joe Frazier said:

    “Champions aren’t made in the ring; they are merely recognized there.”

    Champions put in the hard work behind the scenes. The world recognized them as a champion when they saw the results of the hard work. Right now, you are doing the work of creating a champion in yourself.

    That work is setting your routines in order because you now know that success flows from your daily routines. If you are not experiencing the success you desire, then it is time to change things up.

    More on Creating Healthy Routines

    Featured photo credit: Zan via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] The Balance Careers: Interview Question: “How Do You Define Success?”

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