We all know what it’s like to have a deadline looming over our heads. We spend most of our time feeling like we’re being pushed, often unwillingly, toward the goal line of one project or another. We also all know what it’s like to miss a deadline. However, with time and effort you can reduce your stress and meet deadlines more efficiently.
The first part of meeting goals is setting them. This part is far more important than it seems. When setting goals, you need to be realistic. Not only with whether or not you can meet a timeline, but also with whether or not you have the ability to get the job done - period. Once you have an overall goal, set smaller goals and a calendar for achieving them. Assign specific goals and duties and make sure everyone not only knows their part, but everyone else’s as well.
Even if you’re setting realistic goals and deadlines, that doesn’t mean you’ll always meet them. When setting up your plan of attack, it is important to realize that sometimes things go wrong. One of your co-workers may call in sick, the copier might break down in the middle of a large print job, or bad weather might trap your supplier out of town.
You can’t prepare for every eventuality, but you can set up a Plan B in case of common problems. This is often as simple as having alternate companies’ phone numbers on hand or making sure someone knows how to do a task if someone else is sick. Occasionally, something is going to happen and you won’t meet a deadline, but you can still make this a rare occasion.
When managing a team, always set their deadlines well before the deadline for the final project. Even if someone does exceptional work, you may end up with a bad final product because you were in a rush to get everything together. If the people you work with spend a lot of time procrastinating, you may just want to set a deadline they need to have it done by and leave it at that. If they don’t know the final project deadline, it may get their part to you sooner.
For a team to meet a deadline, the leader needs to be involved in the entire process. No, they don’t need to check up on everyone every step of the way, but they do need to see if everyone is on schedule and if they have any problems. Often people will try to handle it themselves when they hit a snag, delaying their part and possibly the whole project.
When you’ve met a big deadline, reward yourself and your team with some kind of treat. Depending on your options and on the importance of the deadline, it could be something big, like a group outing, or something small liking bringing in bagels one morning. If you have something to look forward to, you’ll be more likely to get things done on time. Plus, this will give everyone the energy boost to get started on your next big project.