hitting deadlines: abstract stressed face

Use Shweta Jhajharia’s questions to hit your deadlines with ease

If deadlines are stacking up and you’re finding the pressure debilitating rather than galvanising, here are some questions you can ask yourself to make hitting deadlines much, much easier:

Have You Thoroughly Planned Out the Steps Required?

Only a comprehensive understanding of what the task demands will allow you to accurately assess how long it’ll take. As the old saying goes, fail to plan and you plan to fail. When you’ve been able to map out your day hour by hour, it makes sticking to that map so much easier. You can allocate a certain amount of time to each task, and you’ll know if you’re running ahead of or behind schedule.

Break down the task into its constituent parts. When you’ve split what looks to be a monumental project into simple, easily achievable tasks, it prevents the project from becoming overwhelming. It helps you to overcome that first mental hurdle (will I be able to get through all this work?) that can paralyse your progress and leave you feeling dispirited and disheartened.

Do You Have the Resources You Need?

Committing to the task at hand means agreeing that you have everything you need to capably complete the designated task.

Ensuring that you keep in regular contact with your line manager – and whoever the stakeholders may be – is imperative for managing expectations.

If you’re constantly in and out of meetings and it’s hindering your ability to meet deadlines, voice this concern. If you need more information, don’t be afraid to ask. Whatever it is that you need, you need to be bold enough to communicate this to the people that matter.

Have You Allowed Time for Unexpected Problems?

Acknowledging that things can – and often will – go wrong is crucial in being able to adapt to any problems that get in your way.

Once you have allocated additional time for dealing with unexpected hurdles, you can work towards your deadline without fear of a fresh problem derailing your progress entirely. In many industries, it isn’t uncommon to have a deadline before the deadline. This safety buffer gives you the freedom to negotiate unanticipated obstacles and still complete the task on time.

Identify Issues Early On

If you regularly encounter problems sticking to deadlines, you might need to admit that you are at the root of the problem. If you spend too much time procrastinating, you’re not alone. There are, however, different things you can do to limit the amount of time you waste.

Some people are perfectionists and they’re unwilling to compromise the quality of their work in order to meet a deadline. In this instance, you need to work hard to alter your mentality to fit the task at hand. There is no point having a refined piece of work if it’s not ready when it needs to be.

Regardless of what your issues are, identifying them as early as possible and putting countermeasures in place to prevent them from flaring up again is extremely important.

Change Your Mindset

For most people – and this is just based on anecdotal evidence – the idea of a deadline rapidly approaching invokes fear. The what-ifs and the potential repercussions of failing to meet a deadline can be seriously worrying. If you do fall behind at any point, it’s very easy for this slight unease to snowball into something far more serious. Seeing a deadline in entirely different terms can be transformative for the way you work. Instead of being seized by fear when confronted with a deadline, if you can learn to harness that anxiety and use it as a catalyst for getting through work, you’ll find it is an extremely useful skill. It is by no means an easy task, but finding that switch in your head and learning to rely on it will allow you to attack your work with optimism and zeal

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Shweta Jhajharia is a leading business coach and the founder of Growth Idea UK.

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