The term deadline has come to be associated as the time limit beyond which a project is unacceptable. It has an interesting origin, it seems during the American Civil War, a line would be drawn in the dirt in the prison compound where prisoners of war were held captive anyone crossing that line would be shot dead. While in modern times you don’t get shot for crossing a deadline, you definitely may be committing professional hara-kiri if you come to be known as a person who cannot deliver on time. Here are a few tips on how to organize yourself better and not miss any deadlines.
Negotiate a realistic deadline:
You obviously know how much time you require for a particular task or a project, make sure that the deadline is one that can be realistically met. It won’t impress your employer if you agree to hand in the project in two days and take five instead. If you present valid reasons why you need a certain amount of time, your boss will accommodate you. If possible, this is the stage where you work in a buffer for yourself to handle any unforeseen difficulties or complications. Never over commit!
Break it up:
When you look at a project in its entirety it’s bound to intimidate especially if there is a deadline looming ahead. There will be a number of small components you need to accomplish –make a list of these tasks, plan the time each of them will take and prioritise them. This gives you an exact estimate of how much time will be required and ticking off each on your checklist is going to give you a major boost in completing it on time. There could also be some tasks that could be easily delegated to others in your team.
Keep the schedule:
You know what your vices are – it could be checking on your emails, taking regular coffee breaks or getting caught up in the gossip at the water cooler. When you’re on a deadline, these distractions need to take a back seat. Or give yourself an incentive by promising a break only if a certain task is completed. Practice self-discipline – it’s one of life’s valuable lessons.
Keep communication channels open:
You need to confirm that you and your client or superior have the same vision and are on the same page. Communicate at every step of the project; give a small presentation or discuss what you have accomplished at the end of each stage. This will reduce the chances of a do over and rejection of all your hard work.
Don’t let the deadline lapse:
Sometimes, due to extenuating circumstances you could reach a stage where you know you’ll not be able to meet the deadline. The worst thing to do is to cross the deadline and wait to be questioned about it by your client or boss. Rather than making excuses and putting yourself on the defence put in a word to them a few days in advance that the deadline is unlikely to be met and provide reasons for the same. Re-negotiate a second deadline and this time make sure your stick to it. Ultimately if you have slacked off the beginning you may have to put in a few sleepless nights to meet your commitments. But don’t make a regular practice of this, as not only will the quality of work you present suffer, but so will your health.
Excerpts from Mumbai Mirror