The deadline lifestyle has become the new normal.
Whether you are self-employed or working with an organization, I am sure, over the last decade, you have noticed an increase in last-minute stress and general running around.
Are we trying to do too much in limited time spans or are we too distracted to focus and get work done? Or is this the modern style of work that’s customary in offices nowadays?
We will go out on a limb and say – a bit of both!
20 years ago, before mobile technology and the Internet, expectations from an employee were different. No one expected you to check mail once you left office and solving a problem took time that was adequately factored in.
Now, not only are we expected to be quicker and more knowledgeable, but also always available! While on one hand, timelines have become tighter; on the other, distractions are making them harder to achieve.
So, if you are a chronic deadline chaser and if you can’t remember the last time you finished everything well before time, then we have set of productivity tips that you need to try out TODAY!
#1. Set Realistic Goals and Learn to Say NO
Before we get started with the task of meeting deadline we need to ensure that these deadlines are realistic. Often, we find it hard to pull back from timelines that are tough to deliver; assignments are thrust on us and right from the first meeting we know it’s going to be difficult to deliver a good result (if at all) within the given deadline.
It’s up to you to take on what you can manage and firmly say no to impractical timelines; it is more sensible to speak up and request extra time or resources at the start rather than failing to meet a deadline at the end.
#2. Make a List
Once the task and the timeline are decided, the first thing to do is make a LIST!
We are not talking about just a basic list but a detailed one with a complete breakdown of all the various steps needed to complete the assignment – time needed for each part, the order in which you need to accomplish each mini task, additional resources or people who will be helping you and what they will be doing and any other details that could be useful.
This list is your roadmap to getting everything done. Done forget to add buffer time in it!
#3. Get resources together
Get everything you need together in one place – people, research and information. Start the ball rolling by sending out all the emails allocating work, requesting for help and communicating your plan and timelines to the people involved.
Roll up your sleeves and create quality work time so that you can focus on the job at hand. Block large chunks of your calendar, keep meetings to the minimum or allocate certain times of the day for them, block your time-sucking apps and mute your notifications.
Basically, create long periods of distraction-free work time to ensure high productivity!
#5. Get the biggest stuff done first
Tackle the most complicated and the largest part of your work first.
We tend to focus on cutting down the to-do list by doing the smaller tasks, but that will just create more stress at the end. It might not feel as good, but believe us putting the most difficult bit behind you will ultimately pay off!
#6. Keep a Buffer
Always keep some buffer time when you plan.
This is the cut off time for you and your team, so that you have enough time to review and fix problems. Your time cushion also gives you some extra time you can use for putting some last minute finishing touches.
But most importantly, this is when you will be able to evaluate whether you will be able to make the deadline or miss it.
#7. Damage Control
Sometimes despite all the hard work and effort, deadlines are missed. It is important to ensure that you keep your boss, or the client informed of any delays and problems as they take place.
Also, it is much better to call in advance to inform people that you will miss the deadline rather than have them chase you. Be sure to have a second timeline thought out that you can offer straight away – one that is realistic!
In our modern, semi-digital lives, no one is willing to wait – from instant noodles to instant gratification – we want things done now!
You can’t single-handedly change the work culture to make it more relaxed – gone are the days of taking your time to get things done. So, its best to stay ahead of the curve by managing your time and keeping your productivity high.
If you are struggling to manage your time and need to bring your A-game to your new job/position, then don’t try to wing it. Bring in the professional before things get out of hand!
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