5 Steps to turn missed deadlines into a thing of the past

Missed deadlinesA 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

Mike Gardner is ‘The Time Doctor’ and is highly regarded as one of the UK’s leading Time Management specialists being regularly featured in articles in the small business sections of both The Times and Guardian newspapers. He is an author, speaker and mentor. He enables you to prioritize your activities, so that you can be incredibly productive, whilst still having time for the things that matter most in your life. He is an avid fan of Aston Villa, a Dad of Neil & Emma, a hubby to Wendy and in his role as an Officer with the reserve forces, he has completed operational tours of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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8 thoughts on “5 Steps to turn missed deadlines into a thing of the past

  1. Hi Mike

    Those are good tips.

    I keep my Google calendar open in my browser to keep me on track with what I intend to accomplish in the day.

    I also set plenty of alarms on my phone so that I don’t forget appointments.

    My challenge is changing priorities, if paying clients want something done urgently, I always make sure I put them first (other than family!)

    Enjoy the rest of your week, Joy
    Joy Healey recently posted…Helping Young Entrepreneurs Avoid Student Debt: Book ReviewMy Profile

  2. A good five point plan Mike. I had a struggle with meeting my own deadlines for quite a while and everything you’ve mentioned above helped.

    A major problem for me was setting unrealistic targets and planning to get too much done in the time available. Eventually I started to time how long tasks took so I had more realistic expectations when I planned.

    As long as we are prepared to review how well our plans are working I’m sure we’ll get there eventually.
    David recently posted…On Page SEO – Does Yours Need a Tune Up?My Profile

  3. I am responsible for the workflow for my department at work, and I have to provide a weekly priority list (and the progress for each project) to management. The one thing I find most helpful is the daily to-do list. It sure feels good when one of those items is crossed off!
    Alana recently posted…Civil War Sunday – GraffitiMy Profile

  4. These are really valid tips, Mike.

    I do find it hard to prioritize at times, usually when I have a lot of jobs to do. I’m not always sure which task to start first – but it’s better to pick one and go with it rather than procrastinate.

    I like point 2, particularly “Never make an obligation to others until you have a time as to when it needs to be done.” That means getting our priorities straight in the first place.

    Also agree that determination is so important – it’s what helped me to complete the 30 Day Blogging Challenge. :)

    Please will you take a look at my recent post on time management? I’d appreciate your thoughts. http://www.abrightclearweb.com/7-effective-time-management-tools-for-freelancers/
    Claire Brotherton recently posted…The 30 Day Blogging Challenge – What Have I Learned?My Profile

  5. Thank you for this excellent post. This is one of my biggest hurdles and challenges in my life as an independent contractor and entrepreneur. I’m sure it’s why I have lost out on job opportunities or not been invited back for additional projects. I feel ashamed to admit it, but there’s my confession and the truth of the matter. While I do have legitimate health conditions that sometimes interfere with my ability to be productive, other times I know it’s just a lack of good time management and the long-time bad established habit of procrastinating.

    I have started doing #3 on your list more consistently — I have a notebook for each of my businesses (freelance and sewing), as well as lists on my Galaxy Note 4, and reminder elerts.

    I’m looking into joining your FB group! Thanks again for this great post! :-)
    K. Lee Banks recently posted…3 Things I Completed TodayMy Profile