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10 Ways to Make Deadlines Less Intimidating

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Linsay ThomasGuest Blogger
March 04, 2017 · 1.6k Views



Source: Regis College

Deadlines – we’ve all had to deal with them at one point. There are deadlines in school for homework. In the work world, there are deadlines for projects and assignments – especially in the publishing world. In our personal lives, there may be deadlines to pay bills or reach goals (like lose weight).

Many people have laser-sharp focus and are highly motivated to get their work done. They start working on projects the minute they receive them. Others do just the opposite and procrastinate until the last minute. They might work on projects the night before they are due.

Deadlines can cause a lot of anxiety, especially if you have a ton of other things going on in your life. It will take some effort on your part, but you can meet them and maybe even exceed them. Need help making your deadlines work? Try these 10 tips to make them less intimidating.

lightbulb icon One of the best easiest ways to make sure you meet deadlines is by making sure your work is organized. Planners (physical and apps) are a great idea, so check out our store pages for EtsyiTunesPaper Source, and Amazon to find planners and more.  


10 Ways to Make Deadlines Less Intimidating

1. Make sure the deadline is clear.


Source: ProFellow

Miscommunication is common in the workplace, especially when requests are made verbally. If you can, have your manager email you the details, along with the due date and time, if applicable. Be sure to account for time zone differences if you’re working with people who are geographically spread out.


2. Make meeting deadlines mandatory.

Some people just don’t care about deadlines, but having a nonchalant attitude about them will ruin your reputation. In the professional world, you must meet your boss’ expectations or you could be looking for a job elsewhere.


3. Make sure you know what the client wants.


Source: YFS Magazine

It’s frustrating to spend so much time and effort working on a project and then find out that it’s not what the client wanted. Eliminate this possibility by asking questions first. Get all the details you need up front. Don’t assume or guess.


4. Make a list.

Santa isn’t the only one who makes a list. You do the same, and check it daily. A list – whether created online or with pen and paper – will keep you organized. Make note of projects and due dates. You might want to add notes about progress or questions you need to ask.


5. Break it down.

working on a project

Source: The Balance

One large task in front of you can be very daunting. As such, you’re likely to delay it for as long as possible. Instead of focusing on the project as a whole, break it down into smaller, more digestible pieces. That way, you can complete small portions and feel a sense of accomplishment.


6. Estimate the time requirements.

Once you’ve broken everything down, your next step is to determine how long each step will take. Be fairly liberal in your time estimates. If something normally takes you 30 minutes, give yourself 45 minutes or even an hour. You’ll want this buffer to account for delays, especially if you need to gather information from others. If you finish the project early, that’s great, but you generally do not want to underestimate and underperform.


7. Communicate with your client.

meeting with clients

Source: Zach & Jody

If your project is fairly lengthy, you may want to communicate with your client after every major step. That way, the client will know that you’re making progress and in a way, you’ll feel more accountable. Also, if you feel that you’ll need more time to complete the project, let your client know as soon as possible. Don’t tell him the day it’s due. Give some advance notice and negotiate a new deadline, if possible.


8. Move up your deadline.

This may sound counterintuitive, but if you want to be more productive, give yourself less time to complete the project. This works because of the theory called Parkinson’s Law. We subconsciously expand work to fit up an allotted time. If we have only one project to do in an eight-hour workday, we may procrastinate or allow ourselves to become distracted during the day because we know we’ll have plenty of time to complete it. So if a project is due Monday morning, set your deadline for end of the day Friday. Not only will you feel more pressure to get it done, but you’ll be able to take the weekend to relax and celebrate your efforts.


9. Don’t take on too much.


Source: www.everydayhealth.com

This is common in the freelance world, where we often avoid saying no in order to make everyone happy while making money at the same time. We often neglect to take everything into consideration, such as other jobs, caring for children, appointments and other responsibilities. Avoid overcommitting. Be upfront with your client and either say no or negotiate another deadline.


10. Learn from your mistakes.

Maybe you truly thought you could finish the report in time, but you ended up with the wrong numbers and had to redo the sales spreadsheet at the last minute. Setbacks happen. The most important thing you can do at this point is learn from them. Find out what happened and what you would do differently in the future in order to prevent a missed deadline. Maybe you need to double-check your information. Maybe you need to communicate better. Perhaps you need to allot more time in a specific area. Most clients allow one mistake, but miss a deadline a second time and you’ll lose their trust.


Deadlines are just part of life. We all must deal with them. They’re unavoidable, but by following the steps outline above, you can tackle them head-on. While you might not ever grow to like deadlines, you can make them manageable enough so they don’t incite panic.

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Linsay Thomas is a seasoned writer and editor who has written thousands of articles about topics such as saving money, healthcare, law, pets and education. She hails from California, where she lives with her husband, two children and a menagerie of pets. When she's not writing, she enjoys sports, breeding chocolate Labs and visiting the beach.

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