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Published on June 3, 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 July 10, 2020

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

 

Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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