How to Always Meet Deadlines

Three Methods:Maintaining Good Time ManagementStaying OrganizedStaying On Task and Not Procrastinating

Whether it’s a school assignment, an art project, registering to vote, or an initiative at work, many things that you do in life have a deadline. For some people, it may be hard to complete a project within the allotted amount of time. Things like procrastination or distractions can hinder your efficiency and cause you to take longer to complete things. Luckily, by employing sound tactics and managing your time well, you can overcome your shortcomings and meet deadlines regularly.

Method 1
Maintaining Good Time Management

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    Set a completion timeline for your project. When setting a completion time, it’s good to be realistic about how long it could potentially take you to complete the project. Consider what you’re expected to deliver, how much time you can dedicate to it, how large the project is. Another way to get a good estimate is to compare it to projects you’ve done in the past.[1] If you don’t think that it’s possible to finish on time, talk to the person who originally assigned the deadline and see if you can get it pushed back.
    • Determine an estimate of time that it takes for each smaller task. Once you're done, add a time cushion on the end of it to get a realistic time for the entire project.[2]
    • Make sure that you get complete clarification on the specifics of a project before you agree to a deadline.[3]
    • Don’t compromise and agree to a deadline that you know is unattainable. This will dissatisfy whoever assigned the deadline and hurt your reputation.[4]
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    Break down your project into smaller tasks. Instead of feeling overwhelmed with the idea of completing a large project, break it down into smaller, easily attainable tasks.[5] Cross out the tasks on your list as you complete them.
    • If you have to write a paper, doing the research could be your first task. Additional tasks could include writing the first 500 words, completing the introduction, or getting a certain amount of pages written.
    • If your deadline is for work, make sure you are allotting time effectively. If one of your smaller tasks is taking much longer than usual, it may be a good idea to switch to another portion of the project.
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    Finish one project at a time. Though many of us are forced to multitask in our day to day lives, it’s important that you dedicate enough time to each individual project you are working on. Dedicating your attention to a single project makes you more efficient.[6]
    • If you are forced to work on a parallel timeline for two or more projects, complete a chunk of tasks for one project before switching gears and working on a different one.
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    Prioritize your tasks and your projects. When you have to juggle multiple projects or tasks, it’s important that you can determine which tasks are more critical to the overall success of the project, or which steps need to be completed before you move forward with it.
    • It may be a good idea to start with the most difficult tasks or projects first, when your mind is the most fresh.[7]
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    Assume it will take longer than you expect. It’s important that you factor in unintended circumstances that may delay your project. For some things, this may mean not having the required materials in time, someone getting sick, or a personal emergency.
    • If there is an emergency that comes up and you’re unable to make the deadline, let the person who issued the deadline know as soon as possible.
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    Schedule regular breaks throughout the day. Constantly working with out taking any breaks makes you less efficient. Instead of burning yourself out, take 10-15 minute breaks in your day so that you don’t lose focus.[8]
    • Consider how long it usually takes you to lose focus and adjust the amount of time you work at once based on it.[9]
    • Small scheduled breaks throughout the day also let you evaluate complex problems that may be stumping you.[10]
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    Eliminate deadlines if there is no reason for one. If a deadline is arbitrary or artificial, you should consider removing it all together. Some projects and tasks take time, patience, and high levels of accuracy, and the completion time has no weight on the overall project or organization.
    • Projects that require a high level of accuracy and testing like in IT or programming should rely less on deadlines, and more about creating a quality product.[11]
    • While setting fake-deadlines may work for some, studies have shown that they typically don't increase productivity. What matters more is our work ethic, and other behavioral aspects we can aim to improve, like getting more organized.[12]

Method 2
Staying Organized

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    Maintain a calendar for each day and stick to it. Creating a calendar of tasks to do daily allows us to visually interpret the work that we have to do. Make sure to block out the amount of time each task takes to complete and include things like regularly scheduled breaks.
    • Breaking down your project into 4 smaller parts helps you meet goals and time restrictions throughout the project.[13]
    • You can use online calendars like Google calendar that will give you text and email reminders for important deadlines.
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    Write down a list of things that you have to do. Not knowing what you need to complete can waste time. Make sure to maintain a clear list of the tasks you need to complete in order to meet the deadlines for your project.
    • You can keep this list on a physical piece of paper, or an online document.
    • When you’ve completed tasks on your list, make sure that you cross them off.
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    Keep all documents and emails in categorized folders. Not being able to find critical documents wastes a lot of time and can be stressful. Organizing your documents and categorizing them will enable you to find important information quickly.
    • Save all emails in a folder that you can access later. If something goes wrong during the project or there is a dispute, you can refer back to old emails to verify your claims.

Method 3
Staying On Task and Not Procrastinating

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    Start your project as soon as you can. Don’t put off a project because the deadline is not close. The earlier you start a project, the earlier you will complete it. If you wait too long, you’ll end up scrambling for time as the deadline approaches.[14]
    • Analysis Paralysis is when someone analyzes a problem for too long before beginning it, which could lead to project delays or the project never getting completed.[15]
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    Hold yourself accountable. It’s easy to make excuses, but it doesn't help us learn from our mistakes. Instead of making excuses, look at the situation objectively and consider where you can improve. Always take the initiative to get things done early and don’t place blame on others if you’re unable to complete a project.
    • Telling a friend or family member about a deadline could motivate you to completing it on time.[16]
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    Save social time for after you complete it. If you’re the type of person that is easily distracted, you could benefit from saving social time for after you meet your deadline. If you’re missing important deadlines on smaller tasks because of late nights or spending too much time with your friends, abstain from attending social events until your deadlines are met.
    • Tell your friends that you have an important deadline, and you would like to go out, but you have to meet your commitments.
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    Change your environment. Your environment affects your mood. If the work space you are using makes you tired, or is uninspiring, consider changing it.[17]
    • Visiting a local cafe may be the right decision if you can do your work on a laptop.
    • Simply changing the room you’re in may also help you stay productive.
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    Deactivate distractions around you. Distractions can reduce your productivity and efficiency.[18] If you are regularly being delayed because you are being distracted by websites, social media, or people interrupting you, find a way to limit them. Turning your phone to silent mode and not having social media up are two ways to stay on schedule so you can meet your deadlines.
    • There are apps that are available that will turn off all notifications from social media so you aren’t tempted to waste time.[19]

Sources and Citations

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Categories: Job Strategies