How to Meet a Deadline
Imagine that you’ve got a big deadline looming. Your coworkers are relying on you to meet it so that they can move on to the next phase of a team project. But other, smaller jobs keep getting in the way, and the closer the deadline gets the more impossible it all feels. Eventually, your failure delays the project.
The occasional missed deadline may not seem like a big deal but it can be the start of a domino effect that could wreak havoc on the rest of your organization and damage your reputation.
So, if you’ve got a deadline hanging over you, here are five steps that will help you to meet it.
First, determine what the task involves. Make sure you understand exactly what’s expected of you and how much work is required. Depending on the size and complexity of the job, you may need to break it down to create an accurate roadmap of what needs to be done.
Next, check that you have the right resources. Before you start, ask yourself if you have the training, support, people, and equipment needed to complete the work on time. If the answer is “no,” speak up. You may be tempted to press ahead regardless, but this could cause you to miss your deadline or even burn out. Instead, request an extension or see if someone else could help. Alternatively, you could offer a compromise on quality or quantity to get the job done quicker.
Leave margins for error. Things don’t always go to plan. Staff absences, supply delays, or competing responsibilities are common obstacles. Consider what contingency plans you might need in place to overcome them. For example, training up other coworkers and providing process documents could help in case anyone is absent.
Now, it’s time to create a schedule. Divide your work into sub-tasks and assign a deadline to each. Not only will this help you to monitor your progress and stay motivated, but you’ll also be able to determine early on if the given timeframe is achievable.
Finally, even the best-laid plans can fall short. So if you do miss a deadline, try to limit the damage. Consider what caused the delay and how you can avoid it happening again. And be honest with your stakeholders. Take responsibility for the issue, agree on a new deadline and explain clearly how you intend to meet it.
To learn more about managing your deadlines, read the article that accompanies this video.