Do you like deadlines? Some people love them – they rise to the occasion and shine like stars. Others just stress, panic and get nowhere.
Whether last minute pressure brings out the best or the worst in you, most of us do better work with a sensible amount of time to prepare.
Deadlines, however, are a fact of life and many of us wouldn’t get anything done if deadlines didn’t exist.
So here are six copper-bottomed tips for meeting deadlines:
- Prioritise – all deadlines are not created equal. Plan ahead and figure out which deadlines are most important to you, your goals, and the people you work with.
- Plan – plan your most important deadline priorities. Use the 80/20 rule – what is the 20% of work that will produce 80% of the benefit? Take the stress out of deadlines by doing the most important bits first.
- Schedule – create time slots to do key pieces of work well ahead of your deadline. Create mini-deadlines to get ahead.
- Expect the unexpected – for important deadlines allow enough time for the unexpected. The unexpected is a misnomer – we know something will go wrong or delay things – we just don’t know what it will be.
- Polish – reread your report for grammar, spelling and typos. Check figures, iron out the bugs, and rehearse for important presentations. Polishing is important – it enables a good job to shine and look like the great job it really is.
- False deadlines – you can’t do this too often, but consider false deadlines ahead of the real one if a number of people's work needs to come together. We all know people who have to be invited to dinner an hour early just so they might be on time – use the same trick in your work if hitting headlines isn’t someone's strong suit.
Deadlines can be fun. They can produce creative and fabulous work. Deadlines can provide a welcome change of pace as you drop everything to focus on that One Important Thing.
Life can’t be lived to deadline all the time, but when you are in the eye of the storm its best to have planned to be a shining star and not a headless chicken.