A lot of people feel constrained by deadlines, are you one of them? The fear of deadlines can lead to procrastination which then causes you to either miss a deadline completely or put yourself under undue stress to meet it when you are running out of time. If we are not careful we can quickly find ourselves in a vicious. Fortunately, there are things you can do to make it easier to meet deadlines.
Try this 5 step process to turn stress about deadlines into a thing of the past:
1. Be aware of your priorities. You may have a lot to do, but you must take the time to determine which tasks are the most important. When you have deadlines, it is very easy to determine which tasks should take priority, or is it? As Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe during World War II General Dwight Eisenhower is quoted as stating “What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important” Make sure you are working on the right things..
- If you’re a full time employee and are having difficulty prioritizing your work, you may need to speak to your manager and get guidance on which tasks you should be prioritizing.
2. Build your schedule around your priorities. Streamlining your schedule, will ensure that you complete your projects on time. Divide larger projects into smaller steps or mini projects and schedule enough time for each step. Once you have a plan, stick to it!
- Never make an obligation to others until you have a time as to when it needs to be done, if you can’t prioritise a task your schedule will soon become overcrowded.
- Accept that you may have to turn down offers from well-intentioned friends in order to keep to your schedule.
- Don’t be afraid to enlist the help of family, friends, or coworkers to give you time free from other responsibilities so that you can meet your deadlines.
3. Make a daily action list of what tasks need to be done each day. Get into the habit of writing your list at the same time every day, either the night before or at the beginning of your day. Use an A5 notebook or pad to keep an overall action list, your daily action list should contain no more than 3 or 4 things that come what may, you either have to complete or at least start that day. An A5 notebook fits conveniently next to your keyboard on your desk. Anything bigger has a tendency to create clutter and lead to distractions throughout the day.
- Make sure you track progress and tick off items as you complete them This will give you a feeling of accomplishment and motivate you to stay on track.
4. Take regular breaks. I appreciate that you are busy and may feel that you don’t have time to take breaks, but this is a false economy, taking breaks throughout the day will enable you to get more done, which helps you to stay on schedule.
- A short break rejuvenates both your mind and body so you can make renewed headway on your tasks. Consider taking a short walk to keep the blood circulating.
- Remember to eat, taking the time to have a meal or a healthy snack will give you more energy to do your work effectively. But make sure you get the balance right as a large meal may have the opposite effect, making you feel tired and lethargic.
5. Be dedicated and determined. Dedication and determination are two factors that are key in seeing through any tasks that we undertake. Developing these traits will enable us to complete the required tasks before we finish for the day. If we don’t do this we just end up back at square one because we are starting the next day on the back foot.
Meeting deadlines is important to your success at work and in life in general. Practice the process outlined above and you will never worry about missing a deadline again.
If you have found these tips useful you may like to consider joining my Time Management Academy Facebook Group. The group has overfour hundred and fifty members who along with myself, are dedicated to sharing skills, techniques and resources in order to significantly benefit you in your journey to have more control of their time and a more balanced life.
Click here to join The Time Management Academy
Till Next Time
Mike Gardner is The Time Doctor