Procrastination, poor time management and simple lack of communication when deadlines are looming can lead us all into a free fall. The results can be very hard to swallow. At the very least, they can willingly escort us to a world of indecision and at the worst, unrealized potential.
But before I send most of you off to the naughty corner, I think a second chance may be prudent.
Whether it is the potential for failure or just our own internal dialogue, goals and deadlines seems to strike the most fear.
So what can be done to alleviate tensions that seem to accompany the defined period of time that is the dreaded deadline?
1. Plan To Succeed
Having the confidence to achieve and meet your goals comes from an understanding of what is required along the way. Consider a deadline like a project. That project needs to be managed correctly to succeed.
“But I’ve never worked on a project, and don’t know a thing about project management”, I hear you say.
Let me tell you, if you’ve ever moved house, survived school drop-offs and run a household, then congratulations, you’ve project managed.
Plan it. The best laid plans sometimes go astray, yes, but that’s because they are not planned properly. Put some thought in, and have contingencies in place. Only you know what might go wrong.
At the end of the day, satisfaction in a job well done is a powerful thing. Once you get a taste, you won’t go back.
2. Tools Of The Trade
If you speak to a professional project manager, they will undoubtedly have favorite tools they use to get the job done. Milestone documents, or the popular Gantt Charts are used to chronical and monitor how your task is going
If you are an organization that has the expectation that your staff meet deadlines regardless, consider partnering with a professional company that offers solutions. Technology can be your best friend. Welcome it, and use it wisely.
These tools are not a placebo. The use of real solutions to assist you with your obligations can be medicine well prescribed.
3. Break It Down
Big tasks are like an engine rebuild. Things need to be taken apart, looked at individually, tinkered with, oiled and then put back into place accordingly.
So get organized, take apart that large task and break it down into small more manageable ones. Smaller tasks are easier to deal with, when feeling overwhelmed.
Some nay-sayers may think this is just creating more work, but it does produce results, especially if you are one of those people who starts to sweat whenever a deadline is looming.
4. Give Yourself A Break
Yes, tasks need to be done and yes sometimes they are urgent, but there is one thing they truly need to be. Realistic.
It is essential, if not only for your peace of mind, that goals and deadlines are representative of the real world. You also need to be reasonable about what you can achieve. No sense in kidding yourself.
If you believe you will struggle with a timeline, consider having a time buffer.
For example, if your goal is to get the report completed by the last Friday of the month, then make your own deadline for the preceding Wednesday. That gives you two days to allow for the unforeseen. Hello buffer.
Remember to think about the things that may help you lessen your anxiety. Subconsciously setting yourself up for failure won’t help you, or the people who rely on you to meet your deadlines.
5. Recognize Limitations
We all need help at times. There’s no shame is asking for it, in fact it’s the emotionally intelligent business person who will understand this and take action before it’s too late.
Limitations exist in people, yes but they also exist in your surroundings. Your environment may play a huge part in being unable to structure your time.
Disruptive colleagues, inadequate hardware and workspaces can all play a part.
Ask for the assistance you need, delegate where necessary, and be clear about the expectation.
The potential for panic is great if, through an inability to adhere to structured goals, deadlines are constantly pushed further and further back.
As business people, whether high up in an organization or a beginner just starting a career, we do not intentionally set out to create problems for ourselves. Our intentions are good, but through various factors, some not of our choosing, we lose our way.
The tendency to create a problem where one doesn’t exist is perhaps a simple human failing and at times we can be our own worst enemies. The need to be cognizant is ever present.
Recognizing some simple steps and looking at them one at a time will go a long way to getting on top of your approaching deadlines.
Image: Ian Burt