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Living With Your Deadlines

Living With Your Deadlines
Dealing with Deadlines
    Don't panic if your month is full of red marks!

    I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.

    Douglas Adams, 1952-2001

    Do you love deadlines? I bet you don’t. In fact, I can’t name anyone who loves them… Except it is in the witty sense that Mr. Adams puts into them. In fact, I hate the sound of them whooshing as they pass, luckily I’ve learnt how to live with them, and you can too.

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    Dealing with deadlines

    Visualise them: This should be a no-brainer, but you’d be amazed at how many people fall in this trap. You need some calendaring system to track your deadlines. It does not matter if it is a fancy iPad application that syncs through Dropbox with your office server or a sheet attached with duct tape to your front door. Anything will work as long as you are consistent and use it.

    The best tool should have at least a monthly view, to have a clear map of what waits to be done in the next 30 days. It should also be effortless to add a new task or check what is left to do: if it requires even a little of your energy or time, you’ll end up not doing and the dreared whoosh will come again.

    Don’t fret out as they approach: The worse thing you can do when deadlines are looming is enter panic mode. If you think you can make it to the deadline there is no reason to get nervous… And if you don’t think you can make it, try anyway. A missed deadline is not the end of the world, but your boss/client will be happier if he knows you’ve given it everything you got.

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    Plan ahead of time: Another no-brainer that people tend to miss. As soon as you have a deadline for a project, start planning how you will solve it within this deadline. This can be working every day non-stop for 8 hours (a sign that this deadline was a too harsh) or doing X before Y.

    If you don’t have a plan you’ll end up working twice as much as you would with a plan. And probably will add a few sleepless nights due to the anxiety of not knowing exactly what is left. More about this in the next tip.

    Break the big into the simple: When you have long-winded deadlines (anything bigger than two weeks should go in this category), you should split the project into smaller sub-projects, and assign each of them their own mini-deadline. This goes together with planning: you turn a big and hairy project into a set of small furry balls you can always keep under control.

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    Don’t overdo this: there is no point in having a deadline each day for a certain project, but it will help having at least something to finish every 3 or 4 days.

    Be flexible: Before agreeing to a deadline, estimate how much time this project will eat… And add half that to the result. In other words, if you think a project will only need one week, try to get a 10 day deadline. This is not to help your slacking, mind you. This is to allow for unplanned emergencies. Everybody has a tendency to underestimate a task’s difficulty, and even if you are just lucky and the deadline is very sharp, life can always get in the way. Very tight deadlines can be broken just by waking up to a strong migraine.

    If you always add a small security gap to your deadlines, most of your projects will be delivered before the agreed deadline. This will put you ahead of the competition, nobody ever delivers before a deadline!

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    Do you know how to deal with your deadlines? Or are you just hanging from them?

    More by this author

    Living With Your Deadlines Biting off more than you can chew 7 Signs You Bite Off More Than You Can Chew The Clock Is Ticking The Clock Is Ticking: Give Up Your Procrastination Stop, Look and Listen: Dealing With Stress: The Stop, Look and Listen Method

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    Last Updated on September 15, 2020

    7 Helpful Reminders When You Want to Make Big Life Changes

    7 Helpful Reminders When You Want to Make Big Life Changes

    Overcoming fear and making life changes is hard. It’s even harder when it’s a big change—breaking up with someone you love, leaving your old job, starting your own business, or hundreds of other difficult choices.

    Even if it’s obvious that making a big change will be beneficial, it can be tough. Our mind wants to stay where it’s comfortable, which means doing the same things we’ve always done[1].

    We worry: how do we know if we’re making the right decision? We wish we knew more. How do we make a decision without all of the necessary information?

    We feel stuck. How do we get past fear and move forward with that thing we want to do?

    Well, I certainly don’t have all the answers, but here are 7 things to remember when you want to move forward and make positive life changes.

    1. You’ll Never Have All the Information

    We often avoid making important decisions because we want more information before we make a tough call.

    Yes, it’s certainly true that you need to do your research, but if you’re waiting for the crystal clear answer to come to you, then you’re going to be waiting a long time. As humans, we are curious creatures, and our need for information can be paralyzing.

    Life is a series of guesses, mistakes, and revisions. Make the best decision you can at the time and continue to move forward. This also means learning to listen to and trust your intuition. Here’s how.

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    2. Have the Courage to Trust Yourself

    We make all sorts of excuses for not making important life changes, but the limiting belief that often underlies many of them is that we don’t trust ourselves to do the right thing.

    We think that if we get into a new situation, we won’t know what to do or how to react. We’re worried that the uncharted territory of the future will be too much for us to handle.

    Give yourself more credit than that.

    You’ve dealt with unexpected changes before, right? And when your car got a flat tire on the way to work, how did that end up? Or when you were unexpectedly dumped?

    In the end, you were fine.

    Humans are amazingly adaptable, and your whole life has been helping you develop skills to face unexpected challenges.

    Have enough courage to trust yourself. No matter what happens, you’ll figure out a way to make it work.

    3. What’s the Worst That Could Happen?

    Like jealousy, most of your fears are created in your own head.

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    When you actually sit down and think about the worst case scenario, you’ll realize that there are actually very few risks that you can’t recover from.

    Ask yourself, “What’s the worst that could happen?” Once you realize the worst isn’t that bad, you’ll be ready to crush it.

    When you’re preparing to make a big life change, write down all of the things you’re afraid of. Are you afraid of failing? Of looking silly? Of losing money? Of being unhappy?

    Then, address each fear by writing down ways you can overcome them. For example, if you’re afraid of losing money, can you take a few months to save up a safety net?

    4. It’s Just as Much About the Process as It Is About the Result

    We’re so wrapped up in results when we think about major life changes. We worry that if we start out towards a big goal, then we might not make it to the finish line.

    However, you’re allowed to change your mind. And failing will only help you learn what not to do next time.

    Furthermore, just because you don’t reach the final goal doesn’t mean you failed. You chose the goal in the first place, but you’re allowed to alter it if you find that the goal isn’t working out the way you hoped. Failure is not a destination, and neither is success.

    Enjoy the process of moving forward[2].

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    5. Continue to Pursue Opportunity

    If you’re on the fence about a big decision, then you might be worried about getting locked into a position that you can’t escape from.

    Think about it a different way. New choices rarely limit your options.

    In fact, new pursuits often open up even more opportunities. One of the best things about going after important goals with passion is that they open up chances and options that you never could have expected in the beginning.

    If you pursue the interesting opportunities that arise along the path to your goal, then you can be sure that you’ll always have choices.

    6. Effort Matters, So Use It

    It sounds simple, but one of the big reasons we don’t make life changes is because we don’t try. And we don’t try because then it’s easy to make excuses for why we don’t get what we want.

    Flunked that test? Are you stupid? “Of course I’m not stupid. I just didn’t study. I would have gotten an A if I actually studied.”

    Stuck in a job you hate? Why haven’t you found a new job yet? “Well, I haven’t really tried to get a new job. I could totally ace that interview if I wanted.”

    Why do we make excuses like these to ourselves? It’s because if we try and fail, then we just failed. But if we don’t try, we can chalk it up to laziness.

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    Get over it. Failure happens to everyone.

    And the funny thing is, if you actually try—because it’s pretty clear that most people aren’t trying—then you’ll win a lot more than you think.

    7. Start With Something Manageable

    You can’t climb Everest if you don’t try hiking beforehand.

    Maybe applying for your dream job seems intimidating right now. What can you start with today?

    Can you talk to someone who already has that position and see what they think makes them successful? Can you improve your skills so you meet one of the qualifications? Can you take a free online course to expand your resume?

    Maybe you’re not quite ready for a long-term relationship, but you know you want to start dating. Could you try asking out a mutual friend? Can you go out more with friends to practice your communication skills and meet new people?

    You don’t need to be a world changer today; you just need to make small life changes in your own world.

    More Tips to Help You Make Life Changes

    Featured photo credit: Victor Rodriguez via unsplash.com

    Reference

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