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7 Planning Tips To Ensure You Reach That Deadline

June 2, 2017

Everyone works at different speeds. Some people love working at a break-neck speed and can turn out quality work within a day. Others like to sit on certain tasks to perfect them. But we don’t always have the luxury to operate on our own schedule, and we’ve all felt the pressure of having a deadline fast approaching. These deadlines aren’t put in place to get you working faster, it means others are depending on you to get your work in on time and, therefore, they should be something you take very seriously. So if you’re looking to stay on task and never fear a deadline again, here are some tips for getting your work done on time.

Write it down.

It may seem too obvious to even consider, but it’s always a good idea to write down somewhere accessible the actual deadline you have. Even with the most important task, you can forget the date or get it mixed up. I’ve had deadlines in which I was positive of the deadline, only to realise I was a day off. Write it down, set reminders, just in case.

Respect the deadline.

Before you even get started with whatever project is under deadline, you need to consider what the deadline means. If you don’t think there’s any consequences that come from missing deadline, or you’re not thinking about those that are depending on you to get it in on time, then you’re not ready to hit that deadline. Find a respect for the deadline where you have something you are aiming for and something that informs your work.

Breakdown the task.

Now is the time you actually look into the task at hand. You might be eager to get right to work, feeling the heat of an approaching deadline, but it’s good to first take a step back and evaluate the situation. Break the task down into different sections, whether it be based on what work can be done together or just evenly divided parts of the work. This will give you a better sense of the workload ahead of you and prepare you for the next step.

Make a schedule.

Once you have a breakdown of your task, you can then start scheduling when you’ll tackle each separate task. The nature of the work should dictate how your work schedule should play out. Maybe you can do the work chronologically as needed, maybe certain items are more time-sensitive than others and need to be moved up in the schedule, and maybe you want to tackle the larger sections first. Whichever way you decide to do it, a schedule will help to keep you on track with mini deadlines providing you with markers along the way.

Be able to adapt.

Of course, things rarely work exactly according to a schedule. That doesn’t mean that the schedule is useless, but it does mean you have to be ready to react to those instances when your schedule is thrown off-kilter. Maybe a situation arises in which one later piece of the puzzle needs to be addressed earlier than planned. Maybe you find that one finished piece was done no longer works in relation to the whole project. Maybe life interferes and you lose a day f work. Be prepared to hope around from task to task as needed and never assume everything will go as planned.

Plan for a cushion.

Never let your work run right up to the deadline. As just spoken about, plans can shift very easily and better safe than sorry is always a good mantra to keep in mind. Add a buffer zone or a cushion to your schedule, giving you some time in between when you anticipate being done and the actual deadline. This helps account for any problems you might run into causing time to get a little too tight for comfort.

Sacrifice when necessary.

Reaching a deadline is your responsibility, and except for some extreme extenuating circumstances, there’s really no reason you shouldn’t be able to make it. So as much as we like to stress the importance of leaving work at the office and a work-life balance, if you find that deadline coming up faster than you prepared for, you might need to sacrifice some of that free time. Work late, work on weekends, whatever it takes to fulfill your responsibility and promise to reach the deadline. It’s not fun, but it will teach you a lesson for next time and hopefully help you avoid missing another weekend ever again.

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