Hitting deadlines is an essential skill for anyone, no matter what their career is or what level they are at.
Every job has deadlines, whether it’s delivering a pizza while it’s still piping hot or submitting a pitch in time to win your firm a big new client, and the personal consequences for failing to meet them can be equally damaging.
However, there are some of us who really struggle with this crucial skill, and one reason put forward for this is the idea of the ‘planning fallacy’, which is that we’re just fundamentally not set up to accurately predict how long a job will take.
Instead of being realistic, we base our estimations on best case scenarios, ignoring the many things that can go wrong and cause delays. Then they happen, and our estimations are wrong and we miss the deadlines.
There are techniques you can use to improve your ability to meet deadlines. One is to clarify exactly what is expected of you when you are given your brief, as this will prevent you wasting time doing the wrong thing and needing to start again with the deadline creeping ever closer.
The next step is to make sure you have the right resources, information and equipment to get the job done before you start trying to do it.
Then it’s a case of mapping out your priorities and working out the best order to complete the various tasks to get it done. A Critical Path Analysis can be a useful tool for achieving this, and when it’s completed you can set yourself a series of mini deadlines, which gives you less time to procrastinate and you’re putting yourself under pressure to keep on delivering.
When it’s time to get down to the work itself, you need to do everything you can to minimize or eliminate potential distractions, which includes dealing with colleagues who need to know when to leave us alone.
All of these tips should help you get better at managing your time when working on an important project, and you can find more advice in this infographic from CashNetUSA.
Try them out and you should start to see deadlines as achievable goals rather than disasters waiting to happen.