Missed deadlines often have nothing to do with laziness or incompetence, but everything to do with a lack of preparation and poor time management. Follow our tips on how to construct the right framework to keep the work flowing and you will never miss a deadline.
Setting yourself up for success
You are working on a new concept and you are super excited to bring the project to life. With so much passion for this venture, it’s not hard at all to get your creative juices flowing and the tasks done with agile effort.... Until, you notice that you are not even half way finished and you are running out of time, rushing your work in a race against the clock while compromising the quality! Eventually missing the deadline, you are thinking to yourself; OMG how did this happen?!
As we said, your abilities are not to blame. It’s organizing your work in such a way that you are able to aptly complete your project step-by-step. Already starting out with a structured plan makes a huge difference, leaving you with more opportunity to knuckle down on the actual creative stuff too.
Time is money. Time waits for no one. Time is what we all seem to want the most, but what we often use the worst. Well, it’s about time (pun intended!) to start making time work for you, by managing it accordingly. Here are 7 tips on how to plan your project better, to fit into a designated time schedule.
- Outlining goals and planning your project: Don’t start with a vague idea of what you will need to do exactly. Outline the various activities and their specific tasks, so you won’t have to figure out things as you go, stumbling upon unforeseen obstacles. Using the SMART method to formulate your goals will ensure you have it all defined thoroughly.
- Get the hardest tasks done first: Get that dirty work out of the way by prioritizing the most time consuming, challenging or important task first. Make it your number one activity when you start in the morning, feeling fresh and energetic. With the biggest chunk chewed off first, the progress made will make you feel even more motivated. Especially knowing the rest of the tasks are less taxing in comparison.
- Setting time limits for each task: You might find yourself procrastinating too much if you don’t allocate a specific amount of time to each task. Give yourself a reasonable end time, without being too strict. Also add in some extra time in between tasks as a buffer, so you can complete them without overlapping time meant for other things.
- Delegate tasks to others: You only have two hands, but you might have many colleagues who are able to do a precise task too, maybe even better! Don’t be afraid to delegate work to others. Use Rodeo’s detailed planning feature to see each employee’s availability and skills, which makes this even easier.
- Keep your focus: Make sure there are no distractions when you need to get important things done. Put your phone away, and only allow yourself to check it at set times. Be as rigorous as necessary. This might mean using the “do not disturb” function on your computer, working offline, using only one monitor or window to focus on.
- Take small breaks: Instead of a couple large breaks, try taking multiple small breaks to refresh concentration. Very important; try not to spend them on aimlessly checking your phone. Rather try something active, like a quick walk around, doing a few stretch exercises or practicing a frivolous skill like hmm, rock balancing maybe? Body movement is known to stimulate the brain function and uplift your mood.
- Manage your human needs: This should go without saying, but potentially could have topped this list. Nothing else influences focus and productivity more than taking care of YOU. Meaning sufficient sleep, frequent exercise and regular meals. Plan ahead by going to bed early before a big day, or pre-ordering food to arrive at an exact time when you know you will be too busy.
It sounds super sinister – a deadline. One wonders who came up with naming it that. The short explanation is that it simply indicates a line that doesn’t move at all. It’s dead. Another theory dates back to Civil War prison camps, where prisoners were not to cross certain lines to prevent getting shot.
Back to a more uplifting note, you don’t ever need to feel threatened by deadlines at all. Not when they are reasonable and you set yourself up to easily meet them. Always give yourself an alternate deadline, a bit sooner than the original given one. Once your mind is accustomed to the earlier deadline, you subconsciously forget the later one. Worst case scenario you will have some extra time left, while the best case scenario has you finishing ahead of time.
But what is a reasonable deadline? This can be determined in a very concise, simple way actually. Creating a time edit for all of the tasks and activities that are part of your projects will show exactly how much time goes into what. Rodeo’s time tracking feature allows employees to report hours to timecards, giving ample insight. Next time you are preparing a project, you can accurately estimate a reasonable time chart for everything.
Despite all the recommendations and tips above, you might still find yourself struggling to handle a tight deadline one day. However, unexpected issues arise promptly while following a clear-cut plan, allowing you to recalculate a reasonable new deadline. There is definitely nothing wrong with renegotiating the deadline if it’s done in a timely manner. Particularly when you are able to explain exactly why.
Conclusion: time flies. But you are the pilot!
To be prepared is half the victory, and if you know what the pieces of the puzzle should look like, you can already see the big picture before it appears. Keeping track of developments and responding to them becomes a more natural process. With the bandwidths clearly defined, you will have more time to spend on the fun parts of the project. Wouldn’t that make the job so much more enjoyable?
The Rodeo project management tool has all the functions you need to manage your projects. Start your free 14-day trial period today!