Deadlines loom over everyone in some way every day. You’ve got to get to work on time, deliver a project on time, or get the kids from school on time. Dinner needs to be made, bills need to be paid, and let’s not forget about watching our favorite television show! The deadlines we all fear the most, however, are those work deadlines. We’ll all stay up late, drink way too much coffee, and ultimately deliver an average result.
Here’s how you can relieve the pressure of a deadline and deliver a consistently great result instead:
1. Know What You Need Before You Start
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. You need to know what the expectations are for a project at work before you even begin working on it! This helps you get the information you need before you begin so you don’t have to waste time tracking people down when a deadline is looming. Ask specific questions, get specific answers, and you’ll be ready to start.
2. Put Things In Writing
Unfortunately the days of a smile and a handshake formalizing a deal are gone. Get the expectations for your next project outlined in writing so you have no doubts about what is expected of you and what you expect of them. Document any variables that you foresee occurring. Make sure that everyone understands their role on the work that is about to begin, when it is due, and what the final expectations are.
3. Create Milestones
Deadlines are difficult because people are “deadline orientated.” This means that if only one deadline is set, all the work will wait until the last possible moment to get done. Now is the time, when the work is just starting, to set milestones that need to be met up to the final deadline. This will create new deadlines for you to meet and this will make the workload seem easier – because you’re seeing successes already!
4. Add 50% To Your Time Estimates
Nothing ever really goes as planned. Even when a project is fine-tuned to the smallest details, something invariably goes wrong. For most people, the primary issue they have is that they don’t give themselves enough time to really get something done right. As a general rule, add 50% to the time you’d normally quote for a project so you can find work-arounds for problems that creep up. Worst case scenario? You deliver early with high quality.
Projects tend to work best when they’re taken step-by-step. When you keep everyone in the loop about your progress, not only can team members coordinate their own work that needs to be done, but the people waiting for your project can feel satisfied in your progress. The more you communicate, the more you’re likely to get a little relief from a deadline if you’re running late as well.
Deadlines don’t have to be scary. With a little planning, the work can be structured appropriately so you can meet all of life’s other deadlines as well!