Meeting Deadlines: 8 Ways to Crushing ‘Rush-Hour Delivery’ on Projects

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meeting deadlines

Are you one of the many Nigerians that are fond of saying, “I work well under pressure?” After saying this confidently, you find yourself under the pressure of meeting deadlines for several projects, and you’re close to breaking. This insanely itching feeling… Like I’ve felt before.

The Walking Deadlines: A Nightmare About Meeting Deadlines

I am immersed in a wonderful meadow, surrounded by a blanket of flowers that draw multiple spring colour ranges. The birds chirp, and the sun photosynthesizes my mind, clairvoyant and clear.

Suddenly, a slight tremor becomes insistent. Behind me, a beast is approaching. I barely identify its features, but its face is a stopwatch. It is coming straight at me. In the distance, a door with the symbol of the MS Word is closing. I run fast. The only way to avoid being hit is a few seconds away from being sealed. I didn’t arrive on time. 

I woke up with a start, my pulse racing, my breathing ragged. It was all a dream. It’s 5:35 am. Tomorrow is the deadline to deliver the report, and I haven’t written a single line. That thought monopolizes my brain. 

A lap in bed. I return to the original position. I take a deep breath and close my eyes. A pristine blank sheet of paper is tattooed on my head. I drink water and mess with the phone, but there is no remedy. I have been the victim of an episode of The Walking Deadline’s dream series.

This episode will be familiar to those subjected to strictly meeting deadlines in the workplace. Whether it’s submitting a report or reaching several clients, each movement of the clock’s hands is a loud and heavy stroke. Strokes that dig a custom grave for your nerves. Anxiety, worry, overwhelm, frustration, exhaustion, poor rest, and a lot of stress are the resulting emotions.

Read also: Stress management tips for entrepreneurs

8 Effective Keys to Meeting Deadlines

For many, meeting deadlines is like climbing a high mountain. You may be procrastinating until the deadline is near and you fail to complete the task on time despite your last-minute efforts.

Missing deadlines can negatively affect productivity and impression in personal and professional life. Take a look at these points to find out how to be a pro at meeting deadlines.

  1. Be forward with the time

For all planning to be effective, it is good to make preparations. This technique is the key to predicting realistically and ambitiously how long it takes to execute the projects you are managing.

  1. Have only two quarterly priorities

Priorities are only priorities when they are few and of great importance. Otherwise, it would be difficult to decide where to focus or invest our time. They would all seem important.

Selecting only two priorities for the quarter allowed me to concentrate my efforts and time to meet deadlines. It also prevented me from “losing focus” on other projects.

  1. Mark the date and stick to it

One of the most effective ways to actively stimulate action is to limit the execution of projects.

Ask yourself: What day will I intentionally check how close I am to my goal?

If you let the time “define itself” as you work on a project, it will most likely take longer than expected. In addition, you won’t be able to plan the actions after a certain project since you don’t have a target completion date.

Marking the exact date on which you want to meet a goal on your calendar will allow you to define the steps and times. It will also help you commit to its execution.

  1. Break the lump into micro-tasks 

When you face a new project, you must visualize and integrate into your mind the significant phases that lead to the completion of a project. Visualization puts you in a position to make more accurate decisions regarding the execution of minor tasks. Structuring and planning are the most important keys to meeting deadlines. The minutes that we dedicate to this work will not be an expense but an investment that will save time and effort.

Read also: How to stay calm under pressure

“The best strategy is to organize yourself from the beginning, step by step. What do I do this week, what do I do next, how do I leave myself a margin for unforeseen events at the end?” Director of Otto Walter International.

If you are not clear about the process, I encourage you to ask the experts to inform you before turning to the execution phase.

This method will save you time “wasted” on things that, if you had asked, you would have discovered should not be prioritized.

  1. Forecast the work times of collaborators

Suppose you have collaborators or external suppliers for the execution of a project. In that case, you should obtain as much information as possible to estimate what it takes you to execute your tasks and what it takes them to do their part.

Communication is key in any phase of this kind of project. That is why laying the foundation from the beginning will help you with meeting deadlines.

This technique does not mean that you will necessarily meet the delivery times of the intermediate micro-projects. Instead, they will be realistic estimates that each project member works towards. Confirm the work times of your collaborators and make decisions based on data and not assumptions.

Read also: Soft skills to become a successful freelancer

  1. Let the project manager collect your tasks

To avoid losing sight of the many things that needed execution, I had a notepad collecting all the tasks I had to carry out. With this, I was in control over what tasks were incomplete and which were complete.

It also allowed me to realize the small details and minor tasks that sometimes remain “hidden” but are essential to carrying out the project.

In this phase, the tool is not as important as having a single space to record all the tasks involved in the process. Having everything collected in one place will make prioritizing and ordering the execution easier. 

  1. Filter essential tasks 

When you have strict delivery dates, it is important to separate “strictly necessary” from other similar tasks. If not, those tasks prevent you from meeting the objective and delivery date.

Knowing how one task differs from the other will allow you to prioritize and focus on highly important ones. 

  1. Avoid the dangerous safe conduct of ‘I’ll do it.’

How do we get to extreme situations? Through a very popular safe conduct, “I’ll do it,” a first cousin of “there’s time for that.” And, of course, then comes the stress. Muro considers that the initial relaxation will become much more stressful due to defaults, delays, haste, and claims.

The professor of the Department of Social and Organizational Psychology at the United Nations Environment and Development (UNED), Amparo Osca, defends deadlines as a necessary tool, as long as they are reasonable: “We must set ourselves some dates because we tend to delay tasks and look at shortcuts.”

Threat or Challenge? The Key is How You View Your Deadlines

There is always a space for subjectivity. Research from the Department of Psychology at the University of Lund, in Sweden, refers to how we face on-time delivery and meeting deadlines.

According to work, if we interpret them threateningly under the umbrella of urgency, they will arouse negative emotions like fear, anxiety, and anger. However, if you approach them as a challenge, motivation will be the cornerstone, and sensations such as euphoria will follow. In both cases, the effort is non-negotiable, but cognition modifies how we position ourselves. 

“Being all the time with the agony of ‘how much time do I have left!’ It’s a personal decision. It’s up to each one to change it for ‘how little is left to do and get this off my back!’ And the problem is not the deadline, but how each one manages it.” Paco Muro

Your turn. How do you handle tight deadlines at work? Join our community to start a conversation on Insight’s WhatsApp community.

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Ediomi-abasi Umoh is an SEO Content creator and Copywriter. Through her writing, she boosted the sales, CTR, and traffic and ranked brands’ websites like Joblist, Bootsnail, and Lonelyplanet on Google’s Front Page with engaging copies that inevitably led to sales generation.

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