Never Miss a Deadline Again

Published Monday, November 29, 2010 2:24 PM

Dorothy Parker the famous literary wit once observed, "I never met a deadline I couldn't miss." Most of us can't afford to be so blasé about deadlines. At work (and in life) deadlines exist for a reason and are expected to be met. If you find yourself repeatedly missing deadlines despite your best intentions we have some helpful tips.

Care: To meet a deadline you have to care about the deadline. Really care. Make the deadline a priority and you've taken the most important step in meeting it.

Organize: Once you've committed to a deadline, keep track of it. Have a calendar or a running list of deadlines and dates and check it daily. A daily check-in keeps you on track and ensures you won't inadvertently overlook a due date.

Define: The deadline's when? Make sure you are on the same page as your boss or client. Be as specific as possible (i.e. don't say sometime next week, or early next month.) Ambiguity has the potential to leave one party feeling shortchanged.

Bite Size Pieces: Estimate how long the entire project will take and then break it into smaller pieces. Giving yourself smaller deadlines for each piece will help you stay on track.

Build a Cushion: This is for you procrastinators. Okay, it's actually for everybody. Building in a cushion helps you meet deadlines by allowing leeway to accommodate unforeseen delays.

Step by Step: You know what they say about the journey of a thousand miles. Just take that first step and then keep on going. Focus on that first step and don't worry about the rest until it's time for Step 2 and so on.

Be Realistic: When it's time to tackle a specific step, make sure you're realistic about how much time it will take. And make that time sacrosanct; treat it like a cannot-miss appointment.

Don't Over Commit: Just say no to taking on unrealistic assignments. If you cannot commit to finishing a project on time, don't take it on.

Pull Out the Stops: Maybe you underestimated the time a job needed, or perhaps you procrastinated. Now is the time to do whatever it takes to finish on time. Stay up late, work weekends. Do what it takes.

Never Again: If your best efforts to make a deadline still fail, take time to analyze what went wrong and assess how you can prevent future such mishaps.

How do you stick to deadlines? Do you think missing a deadline reflects poorly on someone? Share your thoughts here and on the Beyond Folders Community's Facebook page.

by Carly Fadako


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