I’m sure the very fact that I typed those very words, an email with a new deadline will come rolling in……..
Who wants deadlines anyway, you ask? I do! I do I do I do! Let me confess—MTV reality TV confessional-style—why I love, no THRIVE, on a good deadline. Sure, I’ll bitch and moan. Sure, I’ll tell you you can’t have it by then. Sure, I’ll even whine until you move it back a few days. But gosh darnit…I secretly love your deadlines. So bring ‘em.
Maybe my deadline-aholic-ness is a bit on the selfish side. There are days when I would rather do nothing except shop online and peruse design blogs…sometimes even wedding blogs, and I’m already married. But so what? I know, in the back of my head I have a deadline that I will hit. Maybe even early! So don’t judge how I spend my time, you’ll have your thing by when you asked for it.
A deadline is a promise, and I give you my word.
If I commit, you can damn well expect it to be on your desk, in your inbox, signed, sealed and delivered. And it’ll be good. I did, indeed, give you my word…and I don’t go back on my word….I’m a promise-keeper and will have a full-on anxiety attack if I don’t deliver. Ask my friends…I’m never late, which speaks leaps and bounds about my deadline-loving mental problem…if I’m late…I failed you. And I can’t… no, I won’t…fail you.
Missing a deadline gives me major anxiety.
Well it would, but who am I kidding. I haven’t missed a deadline in something like 10 years. No but seriously, the stress of being late, or even sometimes not being early enough…(the train? a flight? forget it…total early bird here) is enough to send my blood pressure into a tizzy. If my anxiety over missing your deadline isn’t insurance enough – well then you’ve never seen me anxious.
Now that I’ve confessed, I’d like to share some tips for meeting deadlines. Not only do these come in handy in work life, but in real life as well.
1. Be realistic and set clear expectations
If given a deadline seems unrealistic, don’t make any promises. Step back and ask yourself, “how long will this really take me?” and then add some cushion-time to that. If someone else is setting your deadline, give them a realistic explanation of what you need to do, and counter with what you think is more realistic. Most times, deadlines are not as strict as we think they are. I always work in much more time than I think a task will take, and then deliver early. It makes me look like a superstar and is a major client-pleaser.
2. Set milestones.
Tiny goals leading up to your deadline make the project seem less daunting and more attainable. Break your larger goal into smaller milestones (a timeline) and then follow them closely. Set specific dates for each task and then be happy to put each one behind you as you sail toward your larger deadline with ease.
3. Practice good communication
Is something taking you longer than expected? Was there an unexpected hiccup in the process? Are you missing an asset or tool you need to move to the next step in your milestones? Be sure to communicate clearly and often to your team. Follow up when you don’t hear back. Push emails to the top of inboxes. Remind but don’t nag. Waiting on a team member to do something you might be able to do to save time? Offer assistance, speak up and take initiative in communication.
4. Manage yourself like your boss would
Be just as tough on yourself as your boss would, in order to meet the deadline. Remember, slacking will upset the boss. How did the boss get to be the boss, anyway? By keeping on top of slackers like you to make sure you get the job done!
5. Manage your time and put in extra effort when needed
It’s pretty simple. If you manage your time, you won’t have to put in extra effort to take the task across the finish line. But let’s face it, we all fall behind, we all take extra-long lunches some days, we all get caught up in the latest internet meme, and we all get distracted by personal goings-on. All these minor little bits of time spent not working towards your deadline can lead the train right off the tracks. If that happens, simply put in a few extra hours when you wouldn’t normally…work through lunch or in the evening at home. You’ll be surprised at how fast you can get your work done when it cuts in to “me time”.