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Deadlines for Dummies

Written by: Chris Clayton
In every aspect of life, meeting deadlines is something that everyone has to manage and deal with, whether this be managing a strict deadline set by your boss or a deadline set by yourself to complete the Christmas shop. People deal with these deadlines in many different ways with some people opting to use project management software and some people using basic daily planners. The different techniques used to help manage them all important deadlines is constantly under debate, but one known fact is that not meeting deadlines can spiral into project or career failure.

An individual’s reputation is generally based on two things: the quality of their work, and how well they meet deadlines. With this in mind, below are a few basic techniques to help you improve your time management skills to meet them all important deadlines:

Take Deadlines Seriously!


This is the first step, as many people are very lax about deadlines. You have to be very serious about meeting them, and make them a priority. Once this mind-set is instilled, then the rest often falls into place. Delegate, Delegate, Delegate!

We often give out a resounding sigh when the boss asks you to complete a task at work. As annoying as this is to hear, in most cases, he is just utilising you to assist in meeting an important deadline. Rarely do we have to complete a work project alone and if you have access to someone who is especially good at some aspect of the project, don't be too proud to let them get it done. Having more hands to complete a project will increase your chances of meeting a tight deadline. Don’t Set Yourself to Fail and be prepared to say NO!

Some deadlines are non-negotiable, but you usually have the most leeway to move a deadline around before it's been set. Don't take on a two-week task with a one-week deadline unless you're really sure you can get it done. And if your plate is already full, don't hesitate to say no. Most managers would rather hear, "There's no way I can get that done this week, you should find someone else," than, "I was too busy to meet that deadline I accepted last week." Even if you scramble and get it done, it probably won't be your best work.

Put pen to paper!

Make sure to record all the aspects of a project, and have one place that you always check to make sure you know what's due and when.

Utilise every bit of Software!


Meeting deadlines is big business and software developers are making huge bucks in creating packages to assist you. Fortunately, you don’t have to spend thousands on NASA style time management tools! The simple Outlook calendar on the computer or Excel spreadsheets are highly effective tools in tracking and managing deadlines.

Give yourself a reward!

Whether it’s a simple brew or a weekend shopping spree, make sure that you reward yourself once the deadline has been met. Not having a reward at the end of a project is often a sure way of failing before you even start and this works both ways. If you don’t meet the deadline, make sure that self-reward is avoided!

Using these simple steps will ensure you are on the road to success when that time comes where your boss asks you to complete that task by “this time next week”. Now I better post this blog online because the deadline was yesterday!
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