Meeting deadlines is very challenging these days as many of us find we have more work to do and often even less time than normal to do it. There’s no quick fix to the situation, but there are ways to make it less stressful.
Here are eight ways that can help everyone from entry-level employees to top executives.
1. Establish early deadlines: When you’re assigned a major project, mark it down with a deadline at least several days ahead of the due date. Use task-reminder apps such as Remember the Milk to keep you on track.
2. Create a schedule: Experienced professionals typically know about how long it will take them to complete projects. Less experienced employees might want to use an app such as Toggl to track how much time they are spending on projects.
3. Break the project into stages: The thought of completing a major project can be overwhelming, especially in you think of it as one big project. You need to keep the big picture in mind, but it’s often best to think of large projects as several small projects. It’s amazing how this can help to keep you from feeling stressed and helpless.
4. Establish checkpoints: Even the most experienced professionals sometimes lose a sense of urgency when working on a project. It’s helpful to create checkpoints to keep yourself accountable and to check in with employees, clients or whoever else is involved in the project.
5. Create time blocks: Most of us are pulled in many different directions during a workday. Whenever possible, try to create blocks of time when you can concentrate solely on the project at hand. Often it’s best to do the most challenging tasks early in the workday, and to handle less demanding work toward the end.
6. Focus: It won’t help to free up blocks of time unless you make a concerted effort to focus exclusively on the project. Chatting with other employees, constantly checking emails, talking on the phone and allowing your attention to otherwise drift will defeat the purpose of why you have blocked out the time.
7. Get help: If you’re facing a very difficult challenge and need help, find a way to get it. And be creative about it. Rather than hiring more staff, sometimes it’s best to hire contractual workers or to seek out expert advice.
8. Reward yourself: Don’t wait until a project is completed to reward yourself. Your motivation will improve if you treat yourself to something you like after completing each stage—and even after putting in a solid day’s work!