It can be challenging to manage multiple projects when you have to meet an ultimate deadline. However, a recent study suggests that work environments with no deadlines can be problematic for employees and businesses. Deadlines can help your small business build credibility, encourage client loyalty and ensure employees meet production targets timely. Below are some proven strategies to consider to ensure your employees meet work deadlines.
- Create a timeline
Deadlines are important when starting a new larger project. For instance, you want to assign a deadline for your creative teams when creating an advertisement. This may include setting a detailed schedule or timeline for pitch preparation. Creating a timeline for your creative teams can help you eliminate time spent on the less-appealing concepts and focus more time on developing the attractive ones. This can help your time management since failure to create a timeline may affect your ability to develop creative ideas due to time pressure. However, when this happens, it can be helpful to take a walk, listen to music or perhaps take a short nap to refresh your brain.
2. Give yourself time
It is best to give yourself ample time when negotiating deadlines with your customers. This way, you can avoid unnecessary pressures when there are any unexpected delays. However, you may want to consider the size of the project and how long it may take before building a time cushion. Consider breaking down jobs into smaller units or sub-tasks since it can be tricky to accurately determine how long a project may take. After determining how long it may take to complete the smaller jobs, you can add a time cushion to every one of them. Once that is done, you can give a rough estimate of the complete project duration. Giving yourself enough time can help you correct the small details and fine-tune your projects for the deadline.
3. Track tasks and deadlines
It is easy to lose sight of some projects when you are buried in multiple tasks and racing to meet deadlines. However, that is the last thing you want. This is why you need tools to keep track of your projects and focus. Tracking tools should include everything concerning the projects, such as a detailed schedule and project timeline. This can help you keep focused and sane throughout chaos while ensuring you complete tasks quickly and accurately. Check your tools every day before work to ensure you know what must be done and psyche yourself.
4. Create a clear workspace
Just like having so much stuff on your mind can keep you from meeting your deadlines, a pile of work and clutter can do the same. You’ll find it much more difficult to focus if you notice a pile of work or mess waiting to be attended to every time you take a break. As a result, it is essential to keep your working area neat and the less urgent tasks away from sight. This may also require improving your focus to limit mental clutter, cleaning up your computer, going through your files, and managing your inbox.
5. Work overtime if necessary
Sometimes you may poorly execute your schedule or can’t help but procrastinate, yet a work deadline is looming. You have no choice but to do whatever it takes to meet it. This means you have to work overtime to make up for the lost time. However, working overtime may come with some stress, so you want to prepare yourself for the tasks ahead. If you find yourself nowhere near your deadlines, consider gearing up to work late into the night. However, your health is important so if you feel you cannot continue, set the alarm for, let’s say, fifteen or thirty minutes for a power nap. You might get enough energy to see yourself through the rest of the night.
6. Breakdown work into manageable chunks
When faced with a large project, it is best to break it down into smaller, manageable chunks to make it easily achievable. This can help avoid stress and possible delays to achieve them on time. It is easier for tasks to feel overwhelming and challenging when left for the last time. Even if your deadline is far off, it can be beneficial to break it down into smaller pieces along the way. Breaking jobs into small units will help you develop a schedule, keep you on track and motivate you to accomplish the smaller goals. To do this, consider the big picture, review the parts of the tasks, consider arranging them in order of priority and create a timeline to complete each part. It can be useful to complete jobs as early as possible to ensure you have enough time for a final review.
7. Communicate with working teams
Effective communication is essential for every business’s success. Businesses that lack effective communication usually have their programs jumbled up or postponed. Due to this, it is critical to collaborate closely with your working teams and have open lines of communication. This way, every department will understand and commit to a precise timeline for each project area to ensure overall success. However, it would be best to keep communication strategies as straightforward as possible. If possible, schedule regular meetings to discuss successes and bottlenecks and plan new adjustments to meet deadline goals. Since it is essential to keep your team communication open and transparent, choosing the best employee management software can help direct, organize and optimize the team’s activities towards your goals.
Aside from that, your working teams can be held responsible when your client is unhappy due to miscommunication during the early planning stages. This can lead to loss of time, money, and result and a disappointed customer, which is not good for business. For this reason, you want to ensure your client and working teams are on the same page when it comes to project goals and expectations. It can be useful to hold a meeting before every project to communicate set targets. Likewise, set smaller targets like project milestones to ensure everybody knows what should be done and when.
8. Prioritize jobs
Complications can arise when working on a project, so you want to make sure you are prepared for anything that emerges. The best way to do this is to prioritize your responsibilities and this is a crucial aspect of project management. For instance, if you are working on multiple projects, give precedence to the one with the closest deadline. Then, you want to arrange each project according to their deadlines to ensure you don’t miss any by accident. There are instances where you may have to put the finishing touches on a job when a creative thought comes to mind that could improve a project.
9. Know your most productive hours
Knowing your most productive hours when working on tasks with strict deadlines is best. A study has shown that most people are most productive between 9 and 11 am, although this may not be the case for others. You might want to avoid several things that can cause a nuisance or distract you from work, including making private phone calls, accepting meeting invitations, or handling multiple incoming messages. Many things could be vying for your attention, whether online, in the office, or perhaps in your mind. It is best to switch off everything and stay focused on your projects during your productive hours.
10. Learn from past mistakes
If you consistently miss deadlines, it would be best to figure out why. Understanding what may have caused your past failures can help you learn and adapt to achieve more success in the future. Find out whether you are truly committed to achieving your goal, whether you trust your skill and ability to meet deadline expectations, or whether you are unknowingly sabotaging yourself with personal priorities. However, missing deadlines is common, and sometimes, there is little you can do to prevent it. It would be best to take it as a learning experience when it happens instead of beating yourself about it. Find out what went wrong and take measures to prevent it in the future.
11. Know your limitations
Overcommitting is one of the common causes of missed deadlines by employees. It may be tempting to promise to do more to please a client or your boss, yet it is best to take up only what you can handle. There is no point in saying yes to client requests simply because you fear you may not find jobs later on. You can imagine the disappointment when you accept such jobs only to fail to deliver on time. Not forgetting that quality is important and missing deadlines can mean a waste of time and resources. It can also affect productivity levels and your creative abilities.
Slow business or staff can be frustrating in the current fast-paced environment. Despite the many problems facing small businesses today, meeting deadlines shouldn’t be one of them, so it can be useful to consider the strategies mentioned above to help your business thrive.