Struggle to Meet Deadlines?

Are you somebody who misses your deadlines? Or maybe you actually hit your deadlines, but it’s because you pulled an all-nighter. Or over the last few days prior you’re running around like a crazy person, grabbing all of these last pieces and barely sliding in at the last moment. Maybe you’ve beat yourself up for it. You’ve thought to yourself, “I’m lazy, why do I always procrastinate?”

Well, the reason may not be as kind of guilt-ridden as you believe. In fact, psychologists call this “the planning fallacy,” where you go in with the best of intentions; you really do want to hit that deadline, but you’re a little bit too optimistic. You’re too optimistic that everything will run smoothly, that you’ve got plenty of time.

Instead of having this planning fallacy, I want to give you a five-step process to help you meet your deadlines, and hopefully do it in a less frantic way.

All right, number one is to confirm requirements. Make sure that all parties involved are confirmed, that you know exactly the specs, the requirements – what needs to be done, who needs to be involved. Make sure you’ve got a really clear picture of every single requirement it will take in order to complete this project. Number two is to then brain dump.

Now that you know everything, you’ve synced up every micro-task that will be associated with each of the requirements, just dump them out, get them down on a piece of paper, just type them, write them, whatever you need to do. Once you’ve got that list, then go ahead and put them in chronological order; your brain dump will end up being in order. Number three, estimate time. Now you’re going to go through each one of those tasks and estimate how much time.

You’ve got to be realistic, especially if some of those tasks mean other people need to be involved. So if it normally takes somebody 24 hours to get something back to you, maybe you add a buffer of 48 hours on that – two and a half times maybe, maybe even more if you know that historically their estimates are off. So estimate that time. Number four, plan and plug. Now you’re going to take that list based on the time, and you’re going to start to plan out where they would fall on your calendar. And you’re going to plug those into your calendar; they’re not going to stay on this list, they’re going to become time slots on your calendar.

What’s beautiful about this is now you can see your time holistically.

So maybe some or one of the tasks only takes two days, but where it would fall on your calendar is where you are in a two day seminar. So you’ve got to move that up. That’s why you need to actually plug those into the calendar. My tip is, write it in pencil or do it electronically, so that you can move it and make those adjustments. Then finally, number five is promptly begin. As soon as you’ve got this, dive in! Even if it’s not due for a substantial amount of time out, immediately begin on that first task. What happens is, as soon as you begin, your brain subconsciously continues to work on the project.

Even if you only start one or two steps and you step away before you go to step number three, during that step away time, your brain is still working on it. It may allow you to come up with something new, or create something better along the way. So begin promptly, you want to start right away. Doesn’t mean you need to finish right away. So implement this five-step process. I’d love to hear from you! How do you hit those deadlines? What are some additional thoughts or feedback you have? If you try this five steps, let me know how it goes.

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