Advertising
Advertising

10 Common Mistakes You Make When Setting Deadlines

10 Common Mistakes You Make When Setting Deadlines

Setting deadlines and following through to complete them is an art that you can learn with practice and patience. Common mistakes happen and sometimes it’s more about trial and error. As you continue on your track of success, professionally and personally, consider these common mistakes when it comes to setting deadlines. Fixing these common mistakes is not hard to do, but it’ll make a big difference in meeting your deadlines.

1. Not writing down the deadline.

It is important to write down your deadlines on a calendar or somewhere that you can see on a daily basis. It’s not a big secret that what we don’t see, we oftentimes forget. If you have a lot of deadlines, a large calendar would work well for you. Simply write down the deadline on the day it is due and be sure that you review your calendar each day.

2. Failing to research the options.

If you have a deadline, be sure to research all of your options before finalizing that deadline. For example, if you have to have a big presentation at the office, be sure that you do your research ahead of time before you tell your boss when you’ll be ready to make the presentation. You might initially think it will take you a week, but if you research the topic, you might find out that it will take you closer to two weeks to be completely prepared.

Advertising

3. Falling prey to lack of motivation.

Let’s say you have a project due in six months, so you put it out of your mind until the week before it’s due. Oftentimes this procrastination is due to lack of motivation to complete the project. Sure, some projects are just not that fun, but to be able to finish the project well before it is due is quite a success. Perhaps you could offer yourself a reward for working on the project consistently or when you finish the project.

4. Setting unrealistic deadlines.

Motivation is great, but if you set deadlines that are unrealistic, you’re bound to stress yourself out a good bit.  If you have plenty of time to complete a task, there’s no need to rush it. For example, if you have to learn new techniques for one aspect of your job, give yourself ample time instead of feeling pressured to rush and have them mastered in a week.  Rushing is not the way to accomplish any task successfully.

5. Having too many deadlines.

You’re efficient, but you’re not superman or superwoman.  If you’re stressed out beyond your max, perhaps you’ve got too many deadlines set.  If this is the case, take a look at each one and either choose a different deadline for it or see if you can delegate it elsewhere.  We live in a society that puts a lot of pressure on people to perform and achieve.  It’s not feasible to be an overachiever, as it is just far too stressful.  Keep your goals balanced and create feasible deadlines for them.

Advertising

6. Setting deadlines too far into the future.

If you’re deadline is three years down the road, you might not really find the motivation to work consistently on meeting that deadline. For example, let’s say you want a degree in a few years. Break that deadline down into semesters. When you break down your deadlines into smaller chunks, you will feel more motivated to work toward those consistently.

7. Lack of steps toward the deadline.

Take your project and chunk it into steps and then mark each deadline until the final project is done.  For example, let’s say you want to learn Spanish so you can be bilingual for your job.  Break that into steps, like one month to learn nouns, verbs, etc., one month to learn the grammar rules, and two months to practice Spanish via Skype lessons from a tutor.  Tacking projects in bite size pieces is much more feasible and keeps your momentum going.

8. Setting a deadline when you really just need patience.

Ever try to lose 20 pounds in a month and then get frustrated when it didn’t happen? This is because you set a deadline on something that really just needs patience and some consistency. Weight loss can occur, but you’re not always in control of how much and when. It’s better to focus on being consistent with eating healthy and exercising, and let the weight loss occur naturally, rather than stressing yourself out with a specific weight loss deadline.

Advertising

9. Not taking every detail into consideration.

It is important to take some time to contemplate what you want to accomplish within your deadline.  Sure, it may sound great at first, but if you take a day or two to really think about your deadline and take everything into consideration, you might be surprised at what you realize. You may have forgotten something important if you just rushed into setting that deadline. Take a few days to not only do your research, but contemplate everything involved.

10. Mimicking others

If you set the same deadlines that others set, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Don’t fall prey to the pressure to mimic others. If your coworker met his deadline in three months, that doesn’t mean that you have to do the same. If your best friend landed his dream job in one year, that does not have to be your deadline. Do what works for you. Be confident that you can and will set deadlines individual to you and go for it!

Setting deadlines is very important in life. Without them we tend to procrastinate and get lazy.  Keeping that in mind, understand that setting deadlines and hitting them with the least stress possible requires a bit of knowledge and knowing what to avoid. Take these tips into consideration as you go about setting and knocking out your deadlines.

Advertising

Featured photo credit: Deadlines via photopin.com

More by this author

10 Common Mistakes You Make When Setting Deadlines 30 Tips To Become More Confident Nobody Told You Before Peak Your Performance in 6 Easy Steps

Trending in Productivity

1 4 Effective Ways To Collaborate With Your Team 2 Why Your Habits Hinder You From Reaching Your Goals 3 We Do What We Know Is Bad for Us, Why? 4 13 Bad Habits You Need to Quit Right Away 5 How to Reprogram Your Brain Like a Computer And Hack Your Habits

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on January 6, 2021

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

Everyone has heard the term productivity, and people talk about it in terms of how high it is and how to improve it. But fewer know how to measure productivity, or even what exactly we are talking about when using the term “productivity.”

In its simplest form, the productivity formula looks like this: Output ÷ Input = Productivity.

For example, you have two salespeople each making 10 calls to customers per week. The first one averages 2 sales per week and the second one averages 3 sales per week. By plugging in the numbers we get the following productivity levels for each sales person.

For salesperson one, the output is 2 sales and the input is 10 sales: 2 ÷ 10 = .2 or 20% productivity. For salesperson two, the output is 3 sales and the input is 10 sales: 3 ÷ 10 = .3 or 30% productivity.

Knowing how to measure and interpret productivity is an invaluable asset for any manager or business owner in today’s world. As an example, in the above scenario, salesperson #1 is clearly not doing as well as salesperson #2.

Knowing this information we can now better determine what course of action to take with salesperson #1.

Some possible outcomes might be to require more in-house training for that salesperson, or to have them accompany the more productive salesperson to learn a better technique. It might be that salesperson #1 just isn’t suited for sales and would do a better job in a different position.

How to Measure Productivity With Management Techniques

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to fine tune your business by minimizing costs and maximizing profits:

1. Identify Long and Short-Term Goals

Having a good understanding of what you (or your company’s) goals are is key to measuring productivity.

For example, if your company’s goal is to maximize market share, you’ll want to measure your team’s productivity by their ability to acquire new customers, not necessarily on actual sales made.

2. Break Down Goals Into Smaller Weekly Objectives

Your long-term goal might be to get 1,000 new customers in a year. That’s going to be 20 new customers per week. If you have 5 people on your team, then each one needs to bring in 4 new customers per week.

Now that you’ve broken it down, you can track each person’s productivity week-by-week just by plugging in the numbers:

Advertising

Productivity = number of new customers ÷ number of sales calls made

3. Create a System

Have you ever noticed that whenever you walk into a McDonald’s, the French fry machine is always to your left? 

This is because McDonald’s created a system. They have determined that the most efficient way to set up a kitchen is to always have the French fry machine on the left when you walk in.

You can do the same thing and just adapt it to your business.

Let’s say that you know that your most productive salespeople are making the most sales between the hours of 3 and 7 pm. If the other salespeople are working from 9 am to 4 pm, you can potentially increase productivity through something as simple as adjusting the workday.

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to set up, monitor, and fine tune systems to maximize output.

4. Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate!

We’ve already touched on using these productivity numbers to evaluate and monitor your employees, but don’t forget to evaluate yourself using these same measurements.

If you have set up a system to track and measure employees’ performance, but you’re still not meeting goals, it may be time to look at your management style. After all, your management is a big part of the input side of our equation.

Are you more of a carrot or a stick type of manager? Maybe you can try being more of the opposite type to see if that changes productivity. Are you managing your employees as a group? Perhaps taking a more one-on-one approach would be a better way to utilize each individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

Just remember that you and your management style contribute directly to your employees’ productivity.

5. Use a Ratings Scale

Having clear and concise objectives for individual employees is a crucial part of any attempt to increase workplace productivity. Once you have set the goals or objectives, it’s important that your employees are given regular feedback regarding their progress.

Using a ratings scale is a good way to provide a standardized visual representation of progress. Using a scale of 1-5 or 1-10 is a good way to give clear and concise feedback on an individual basis.

Advertising

It’s also a good way to track long-term progress and growth in areas that need improvement.

6. Hire “Mystery Shoppers”

This is especially helpful in retail operations where customer service is critical. A mystery shopper can give feedback based on what a typical customer is likely to experience.

You can hire your own shopper, or there are firms that will provide them for you. No matter which route you choose, it’s important that the mystery shoppers have a standardized checklist for their evaluation.

You can request evaluations for your employees friendliness, how long it took to greet the shopper, employees’ knowledge of the products or services, and just about anything else that’s important to a retail operation.

7. Offer Feedback Forms

Using a feedback form is a great way to get direct input from existing customers. There are just a couple of things to keep in mind when using feedback forms.

First, keep the form short, 2-3 questions max with a space for any additional comments. Asking people to fill out a long form with lots of questions will significantly reduce the amount of information you receive.

Secondly, be aware that customers are much more likely to submit feedback forms when they are unhappy or have a complaint than when they are satisfied.

You can offset this tendency by asking everyone to take the survey at the end of their interaction. This will increase compliance and give you a broader range of customer experiences, which will help as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

8. Track Cost Effectiveness

This is a great metric to have, especially if your employees have some discretion over their budgets. You can track how much each person spends and how they spend it against their productivity.

Again, this one is easy to plug into the equation: Productivity = amount of money brought in ÷ amount of money spent.

Having this information is very useful in forecasting expenses and estimating budgets.

9. Use Self-Evaluations

Asking your staff to do self evaluations can be a win-win for everyone. Studies have shown that when employees feel that they are involved and their input is taken seriously, morale improves. And as we all know, high employee morale translates into higher productivity.

Advertising

Using self-evaluations is also a good way to make sure that the employees and employers goals are in alignment.

10. Monitor Time Management

This is the number one killer of productivity in the workplace. Time spent browsing the internet, playing games, checking email, and making personal calls all contribute to lower productivity[1].

Time Management Tips to Improve Productivity

    The trick is to limit these activities without becoming overbearing and affecting morale. Studies have shown that most people will adhere to rules that they feel are fair and applied to everyone equally.

    While ideally, we may think that none of these activities should be done on company time, employees will almost certainly have a different opinion. From a productivity standpoint, it is best to have policies and rules that are seen as fair to both sides as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

    11. Analyze New Customer Acquisition

    We’ve all heard the phrase that “It’s more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep an existing one.” And while that is very true, in order for your business to keep growing, you will need to continually add new customers.

    Knowing how to measure productivity via new customer acquisition will make sure that your marketing dollars are being spent in the most efficient way possible. This is another metric that’s easy to plug into the formula: Productivity = number of new customers ÷ amount of money spent to acquire those customers.

    For example, if you run any kind of advertising campaign, you can compare results and base your future spending accordingly.

    Let’s say that your total advertising budget is $3,000. You put $2,000 into television ads, $700 into radio ads, and $300 into print ads. When you track the results, you find that your television ad produced 50 new customers, your radio ad produced 15 new customers, and your print ad produced 9 new customers.

    Let’s plug those numbers into our equation. Television produced 50 new customers at a cost of $2,000 (50 ÷ 2000 = .025, or a productivity rate of 2.5%). The radio ads produced 15 new customers and cost $700 (15 ÷ 700 = .022, or a 2.2% productivity rate). Print ads brought in 9 new customers and cost $300 (9 ÷ 300 = .03, or a 3% return on productivity).

    From this analysis, it is clear that you would be getting the biggest bang for your advertising dollar using print ads.

    12. Utilize Peer Feedback

    This is especially useful when people who work in teams or groups. While self-assessments can be very useful, the average person is notoriously bad at assessing their own abilities.

    Advertising

    Just ask a room full of people how many consider themselves to be an above average driver and you’ll see 70% of the hands go up[2]! Now we clearly know that in reality about 25% of drivers are below average, 25% are above average, and 50% are average.

    Are all these people lying? No, they just don’t have an accurate assessment of their own abilities.

    It’s the same in the workplace. Using peer feedback will often provide a more accurate assessment of a person’s ability than a self-assessment would.

    13. Encourage Innovation and Don’t Penalize Failure

    When it comes to productivity, encouraging employee input and adopting their ideas can be a great way to boost productivity. Just make sure that any changes you adopt translate into higher productivity.

    Let’s say that someone comes to you requesting an entertainment budget so that they can take potential customers golfing or out to dinner. By utilizing simple productivity metrics, you can easily produce a cost benefit analysis and either expand the program to the rest of the sales team, or terminate it completely.

    Either way, you have gained valuable knowledge and boosted morale by including employees in the decision-making process.

    14. Use an External Evaluator

    Using an external evaluator is the pinnacle of objective evaluations. Firms that provide professional evaluations use highly trained personnel that even specialize in specific industries.

    They will design a complete analysis of your business’ productivity level. In their final report, they will offer suggestions and recommendations on how to improve productivity.

    While the benefits of a professional evaluation are many, their costs make them prohibitive for most businesses.

    Final Thoughts

    These are just a few of the things you can do when learning how to measure productivity. Some may work for your particular situation, and some may not.

    The most important thing to remember when deciding how to track productivity is to choose a method consistent with your goals. Once you’ve decided on that, it’s just a matter of continuously monitoring your progress, making minor adjustments, and analyzing the results of those adjustments.

    The business world is changing fast, and having the right tools to track and monitor your productivity can give you the edge over your competition.

    More Productivity Tips

    Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

    Reference

    Read Next