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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 December 3, 2019

    How Setting Personal Goals Makes You a Greater Achiever

    How Setting Personal Goals Makes You a Greater Achiever

    Achieving personal goals deserves a huge amount of celebration but setting these goals in the first place is a massive achievement in itself.

    While the big goals serve as a destination, the journey is probably the most important part of the process. It reflects your progress, your growth and your ability take control and steer your life towards positive change.

    Whatever your goal is, whether it’s losing 20lbs or learning a new language, there will always be a set amount of steps you need to take in order to achieve it. Once you’ve set your sights on your goal, the next stage is to take an assertive path towards how you will get there.

    The aim of this article is to guide you through how to take action towards your personal goals in a way that will help you achieve them strategically and successfully.

    1. Get Very Specific

    When it comes to setting your personal goals, honing in on its specifics is crucial for success.

    It’s common to have a broad idea of where you want to go or what you want to achieve, but this can sabotage your efforts in the long run.

    Get clear on what you want your goal to look like so you can create solid steps towards it.

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    Say you have a vision on retiring early. This goal feels good to you and you can envision filling your days of work-free life with worldly adventures and time with loved ones.

    If retiring early is a serious personal goal for you, you will need to insert a timeframe. So your goal has changed from “I’d like to someday retire early and travel the world” to “I’m going to retire by 50 and travel the world”.

    It may not seem significant, but creating this tweak in your goal by specifying a definite time, will help create and structure the steps needed to achieve it in a more purposeful way.

    2. Identify the Preparation You Need to Achieve Your Goal

    It’s easy to set a goal and excitedly, yet aimlessly move towards it. But this way of going about achieving goals will only leave you eventually lost and feeling like you’ll never achieve it.

    You have to really think about what you need to do in order to make this goal possible. It’s all very well wanting it to happen, but if you just sit back and hope you’ll get there one day will result in disappointment.

    Self-managing your goals is a crucial step in the process. This involves taking control of your goal, owning it and making sure you are in a great position to make it happen.

    In the early retirement example, this would mean you will need to think about your financial situation.

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    What will your finances ideally need to look like if you were to retire early and travel the world? How much money will you need to put into your retirement fund to retire at 50? How much extra savings will you need to support your travels? You could also start researching the places you’d like to travel to and how long you’d like to travel for.

    Outlining these factors will, not only make your goal seem more tangible, but also create a mind shift to one of forward motion. Seeing the steps more clearly will help you make a more useful plan of action and seeing your goal as a reality.

    3. Breakdown Each Step into More Manageable Goals

    The secret to achieving your goals is to create smaller goals within each step and take action. Remember, you’re looking for progress, no matter how small it may seem.

    These small steps build up and get you to the top. By doing this, you also make the whole process much less daunting and overwhelming.

    In the early retirement scenario, there are several smaller goals you could implement here:

    • Decide to make an appointment with a financial advisor asking what financial options would be available to you if you were to go into early retirement and travel. Get advice on how much you would need to top up your funds in order to reach your goal on time.
    • Set up and start to make payments into the retirement fund.
    • Research savings accounts with good rates of interest and commit to depositing a certain amount each month.
    • Make sure you meet with your financial advisor each year to make sure your retirement plan remains the best one for you. Research new savings accounts to move your money into to reap the best returns in interest rates.
    • Start investing in travel books, building up a library that covers where you want to go.
    • Think about starting a language course that will help you get the most out of your travel experience.

    4. Get Started on the Journey

    Creating a goal planner in which you can start writing down your next steps is where the magic happens. This is where the real momentum towards your dream starts!

    Create a schedule and start by writing in when you will start the first task and on which day. Commit to completing this small task and feel the joy of crossing it off your list. Do this with every little step until your first mini goal has been reached.

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    In the early retirement example, schedule in a meeting with a financial advisor. That’s it. Easy.

    As I mentioned before, it may seem such a small step but it’s the momentum that’s the most important element here. Once you cross this off, you can focus on the meeting itself, then once that’s ticked off, you are in a position of starting a profitable retirement fund…and so the momentum continues. You are now on your journey to achieving your dream goal.

    5. Create an Annual Review

    Taking a step back and reviewing your progress is essential for keeping yourself on the right track. Sometimes you can be moving full steam ahead towards your goal but miss seeing the opportunities to improve a process or even re-evaluate your feelings towards the goal.

    Nominate a day each year to sit down and take a look at your progress. Celebrate your achievements and how far you’ve come. But also think about changing any of the remaining steps in light of new circumstances.

    Has anything changed? Perhaps you got a promotion at work and you feel you can add more to your monthly savings.

    Do you still feel the same about your goal? It’s normal for our desires to change over time and our personal goals need to reflect this.

    Perhaps you’d like to take someone new with you on your travels and you need to take this into account regarding timelines. Are there any new steps you want to add as a result?

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    Remember, reflection is a useful tool in realigning your goal to any changes and it’s important to keep on the right trajectory towards it.

    Strive to Become the Best Goal-Setter You Can Be

    Having personal goals gives you purpose and the feeling of becoming a better version of yourself.

    But it’s the smaller steps within these big goals that the growth and achievement really lies:

    • Whatever your goal is, make sure you get specific on when you want to achieve it. This helps you focus on the necessary steps much more efficiently.
    • Research the actionable steps required to get to the end result and…
    • Break these down into smaller, manageable goals.
    • Create a daily or weekly schedule for these smaller goals and start the positive momentum.
    • Reflect each year on your goal journey and purpose, readjusting steps according to changes in circumstance or desire.

    Keep going and always have the end goal in sight. Remember the ‘why’ behind your goal throughout to keep you motivated and positive.

    More About Setting & Achieving Goals

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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