Whether you’re a web designer, marketing professional, freelancer writer, or anything in between, much of your long-term success depends on how well you can meet deadlines and efficiently deliver results. Unfortunately, many people struggle with meeting deadlines. This is either the result of poor time management skills, biting off more than someone can chew, or lacking the right resources to get the job done in the time allotted.
5 Tips to Meeting Deadlines Every Time
Whatever the case may be for you, it’s absolutely critical that you develop habits and strategies that allow you to consistently meet deadlines when you’re faced with a project. While much of your success will depend on your personal discipline and how well you motivate yourself, the following information will help you get where you need to be. Without further ado, here are five tips designed to help you never miss another project deadline.
Have a process
There’s a football coach at a prominent college in the South who always talks about “the process.” It’s this coach’s blueprint for success, and it’s allowed him to be very successful for a number of years. And despite the fact that new players come and go each year, he always sticks to his process. If you don’t have a process, you need one. And, of course, track it on each stage, for example with an online whiteboard. It allows you to approach any project – regardless of whether it’s new or familiar – and apply the same techniques, strategies, and protocols.
Use the right tools
There’s so much new technology available that you’d be crazy not to leverage these resources. Project management software and various programs can help you manage multiple tasks, set deadlines, and organize to-do lists. Collaboration tools can help you communicate with team members regardless of where you are. There are even advanced expense tracking resources that streamline the reporting process. Whatever need you have, there’s a tool available. You simply have to find and use it.
Set your own deadlines
The key to meeting someone else’s deadline is creating your own. This is something most people forget to do. For example, let’s say it’s October 1 and you have a project with a hard deadline of November 15. Instead of lumping everything together and aiming for that November 15 deadline, it’s much more effective to break the project up and establish two or three different deadlines or milestones. This keeps you on pace and gives you some breathing room on the backend, should anything go wrong.
Learn to say no
One of the best skills you can acquire during your career – and really your life – is the ability to say no. Deadlines are frequently missed because people over-commit. It may seem financially savvy, or even noble to take on as much work as possible, but the reality is that everyone suffers as a result. The quality of work is compromised, deadlines don’t get met, and your stress-level soars through the roof.
Ask for an extension
If you absolutely know you cannot meet a deadline, your best strategy is to simply ask for an extension. The worst that can happen is you’ll be told no. In the best-case scenario, the client is thankful for your honesty and grants you extra time. One important note: If you’re asking for an extension, have a specific date already in mind.
Meeting deadlines should be one of your top priorities. While the quality of your work is probably your biggest concern, remember that you won’t have many opportunities to perform work if you develop a reputation as a person who can’t efficiently and accurately manage time. Use these tips and you’ll be able to meet any deadlines you’re faced with in the future.