Being able to meet your deadlines, and deliver on what you have promised is an integral part of any job. It is so easy for a project to slide off the rails before it has even really started properly. So it is really important to ensure that you are able to deliver on time, what you have promised to deliver.
Mastering the art of meeting and managing deadlines is possible, but you need to have a plan, and keep your finger on the pulse at all times.
What can you do to ensure you meet your deadlines?
- Agree to a reasonable deadline. This is extremely important. NEVER promise to complete a project by a certain date, if you know upfront that the deadline is not achievable. If you agree to a deadline, and kept quiet about the timeline not being achievable, you will still be the one who is going to be painted in a bad light, when you are not able to deliver. If the deadline is not achievable, open your mouth up front, and ensure that a reasonable deadline is agreed to up front.
- Ensure that you are a hundred percent clear on what is expected of you, and the timeline the project should be completed in. Write it down immediately, diarise the date and ensure you have the right information.
- If you are working in a team, ensure that everybody in the team, is aware of the deadline, and that they are also aware of the fact that it’s imperative that the project is completed in the set amount of time.
- Always make sure you are ahead of schedule, work in advance, and give yourself plenty of time to complete the project. Always ensure that you are ahead of time so that in the event that that you hit problems, you have extra time to sort them out. Rarely does a project run exactly according to plan. There are always going to be unanticipated hurdles that you are going to have to overcome along the way, so ensure you have ample time available to deal with unforeseen problems. Give yourself several small deadlines that you need to work towards, and make sure you stick to them.
- Set a deadline schedule. Break your work up into blocks set up over a specified time period. To get an idea as to how long you can expect the project to take, break it up into blocks and allocate each block a certain amount of time. Always allow additional time for these blocks to ensure that should there be problems or delays along the way, that you can still get the work done.
- Be very careful of over committing. This is one of the main reasons that deadlines are not met. Rather be honest and speak up before the project starts. Know your strengths and limitations, and plan accordingly.
- If you have taken all the above into consideration and along the way you realise that you are still not going to be able to deliver on time, speak up immediately. Do not leave it until the last minute to open your mouth.
- Hold yourself accountable. If you have made a commitment to complete a project by a certain time, it is your responsibility to make sure that you do so. Take responsibility and if it means putting in extra hours then do so. If it means minimizing interruptions and distractions to ensure you get your work done, do so.
If you want to be taken seriously and have a good reputation, you have to take deadlines very seriously and respect them. Always remember time is money, and wasting time and money never goes down well.