Deadline – that awful word! Love it or hate it, one thing is sure – you can't ignore it. They're designed to keep employees in check and ensure they achieve short and long-term goals. It all comes down to time management and how well-organized you are.
When someone mentions a deadline, it's a bane of existence for many people and the main reason they feel pressured and overstretched. However, the ability to meet deadlines is an impressive trait many first-line managers appreciate.
This article will explain how to meet deadlines while dealing with pressure!
The importance of deadlines
First of all, deadlines set up expectations. When a project is given a deadline, it means it needs to be completed by that time. They are designed to provide clear expectations of what needs to be delivered and when.
As a deadline approaches, employees feel more motivated to finish their work. Once a task has an endpoint, it's easier to track it down and assign urgency to it.
Fundamentals of Agile Project Management
Finally, deadlines ensure smooth workflow. It's easier to prioritize tasks, leading to a more dedicated approach. Usually, employees are more likely to work on urgent tasks and leave non-urgent tasks for later.
What are deadlines?
According to a basic definition, a deadline represents a time at which something is due. However, deadlines aren't that simple. In fact, we have goals set on one side and expectations on the other.
Depending on your business, you might have one of the following:
- Realistic and tight deadlines
- Rigid and soft deadlines
- Internal and external deadlines
- Achievable and impossible deadlines
At one point or another, you will experience all the above. It's crucial to know that the absence of deadlines leads to a lack of focus. On top of all, they serve as a motivating tool and help you establish proper time management within your company.
The purpose of deadlines
In most cases, we impose deadlines for the following reasons:
- To ensure work completion: it's pretty easy to forget or delay tasks that have no endpoint. With the help of deadlines, we get to avoid this situation.
- To encourage a smooth workflow: deadlines help us work towards mutual goals while at the same time keeping track of complex projects.
- To establish expectations: deadlines make it clear what we are expected to deliver and when. This means you are in control of your work surroundings and free of confusion.
You should be aware that failing to meet a deadline could lead to severe consequences. On a personal level, it might damage your reputation and potentially harm your career, especially if this repeats more than once.
On an organizational level, missing a deadline can harm your company's reputation or have profound financial implications.
How effective are deadlines?
If you ever doubted the deadline's effectiveness, we have a couple of facts that will convince you otherwise:
- Deadlines are more likely to minimize procrastination.
- Your goals will become more concrete, and you will be able to link them to a specific timeline.
- You will pursue goals and finish tasks according to the schedule.
- Deadlines offer you structure and help you get things done.
To set up effective deadlines, you will have to focus on the following:
- Make your deadlines concrete because you are more likely to follow them.
- Keep your deadlines realistic. Make sure you have enough time to finish the task.
- Give them meaning. There should always be some motivation for you to adhere to deadlines.
Dealing with deadlines
You need to understand that stress is completely normal when it comes to deadlines. It's perfectly fine to feel anxious because we all want to finish everything on time. But sometimes, you will have to accept that your tasks will be incomplete until you find a way to fix them.
Make sure you stay calm under pressure. You can do many things in a short amount of time if you keep your temper under control. Worry only when facing a real problem instead of wasting your energy on false alarms.
Managing a deadline
How to manage deadlines? This is a million-dollar question. If you ever found yourself stressed and frazzled at work because you haven't completed your task on time, you should focus more on time management.
Sometimes people underestimate how long it will take them to complete one project. So, a deadline you have set in place might be pretty unrealistic. Before you agree to a deadline, here are a few steps to follow:
- Estimate what's required: understand what tasks your project involves.
- Stick to the right resources: make sure you have everything you need to finish the job as soon as possible.
- Be prepared for problems: this is something you can't avoid. It's wise to consider potential issues.
- Plan: establish a detailed schedule.
- Minimize the damage of a missed deadline: sometimes, you might miss a deadline despite all your hard work. If this happens, keep calm and try to minimize the damage.
Why do people struggle to meet deadlines?
We have selected the most common reasons why people are missing deadlines at work.
Bad communication: concise and clear communication is crucial for meeting deadlines in a project. You will have to improve collaboration and teamwork among your team members. This can't happen unless you provide clear instructions and the vision necessary to complete the project.
Poor time management: not having proper time management in place will delay your project before it even starts. You need to be able to estimate how long a task will take.
Inadequate technology: for the most part, technology should minimize workflow and save time, but sometimes it does the opposite. People usually waste 22 minutes per day dealing with malfunctioning technology.
Planning issues and poor project management: not only does this waste time, but it also wastes money. Nearly 90% of projects are late due to poor project management and lack of planning.
Are deadlines good or bad?
While some claim that deadlines kill productivity, others believe they are essential to every project management process. So, there is no right or wrong answer. It all depends on your company, the project you are working on, and the team members you are dealing with. The Harvard Business School implies that deadlines help team members perform their best creative work on time.