Meeting deadlines is an important requirement for many jobs. Impress others by delivering results on time, and protect your peace of mind by staying cool under pressure. How about some suggestions to keep you on schedule with routine tasks and special challenges?
Strategies to Use Anytime
1. Break it down. Divide bigger tasks into smaller steps. If you’re in charge of moving your office to a new location, take into account everything you’ll need to cover, from hiring a moving company to ordering new business cards.
2. Budget your time. There’s a widespread tendency to underestimate how long things will take. Use past experiences as your guide. Anticipate that obstacles are bound to arise and allow extra time to deal with those situations.
3. Let go of perfectionism. Save your best efforts for when they’ll create the most impact. Sometimes you’ll have to go all out and sometimes you can accept something just being good enough. For example, as long as you can find everything in your filing cabinet, you can probably survive without color coding all your files.
4. Get moving. It’s easier to stay in motion than to keep stopping and restarting. Start gathering statistics for an upcoming report now and you’ll be a step ahead.
5. Take a break. On the other hand, you also require adequate rest. Pause during a busy afternoon to take a few full breaths. Sit down with a cup of tea for ten minutes and clear your mind.
6. Know your limits. It’s better to decline assignments graciously rather than taking on too much and becoming overwhelmed. Others will appreciate your honesty and you’ll be more productive.
7. Ask for help. Reach out to others when you require support. Asking for help makes you smart, rather than weak. Also, remember to be generous and assist others when you have the chance.
8. Develop a system. Design a calendar that enables you to see all your deadlines at a glance. Tackle routine tasks in bunches and it may go quicker for you.
9. Deal with stress. Dissolve tension by listening to a symphony or taking a walk in the park. Be good to your mind, body and soul.
Strategies to Use in Special Circumstances
1. Impose your own deadlines. Maybe you work for yourself or your supervisor takes a hands-off approach. Set intermediate and final targets.
2. Overcome procrastination. Figure out the reasons why you tend to put things off and apply practical solutions. Perfectionism is often at the root of procrastination.
3. Be honest with your co-workers. If a colleague is stalling your progress, it’s usually best to discuss the issue directly with them. Work together to clarify instructions or access extra resources.
4. Manage extensions. It’s easy to slack off when a deadline is pushed back. Think strategically about how to maximize the opportunity.
5. Recover quickly from missed deadlines. Only in extreme circumstances, like a hurricane or medical emergency, is it reasonable to let a deadline go out the window. Apologize sincerely, present a revised plan of action for resolving the situation, and set a new deadline.
6. Create a favorable setting. If you thrive on having some background noise, take your laptop to a coffee shop and catch up on your correspondence for the week. When silence is golden to you, shut your office door or play soft music to drown out sounds from the hallway.
7. Negotiate for more time. At times, everyone may agree that they’re better off adjusting the time frame. Take quality into account and realize it isn’t all about the time.
Skillful time management and teamwork will help you perform better when deadlines loom. Put these techniques into action to become more prompt and poised.