Like it or not, we’re always on the clock. Even when we’re not at work, we’re always on a deadline. While a lot of people love to laze around, procrastinate, and take their leisurely time about it until the last possible hour, many of us like to complete our deliverables way ahead of our deadlines and move on to conquer another mammoth project at work.
1. Be early
Keep in mind: late is late and being on time is late. Whether you’re working from home or on-premise, always show up at least 10 minutes early. Why? This gives you time to settle in for the day, get your workstation and tools ready, and get coffee! 10 minutes is also enough time to nip to the loo if needed. Also, if you happen to be a bit of a social butterfly, 10 minutes before work should be enough to allow you to say hello to teammates before actually starting work. Learning how to manage project deadlines begins at the start of the day and how you start the day. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been employed at the company for. Every day is different and we run into people and situations that can alter our mindset and shift our mood. Being early is better than rushing through the doors to beat the clock and start work (slightly) on time. Start the workday fresh, relaxed, and ready by showing up early.
2. Shut out distractions
Again, this applies to both remote workers and those who come to the office. Part of managing multiple projects, objectives, and deadlines includes being able to steer clear of distractions. Keep your eyes on the job at hand. It should be your topmost priority. Consider everything else as white noise. Make sure your phone is on silent or, better yet, Do Not Disturb. Keep your desk clutter-free and clear of items that are not work-related. Resist the urge to check or access your social media on your work computer or company-issued gadget. Creating that mental barrier helps in setting the boundaries between work and non-work matters. When you’re at work and working, make sure you’re specifically doing just that.
3. Track your time
Track the amount of time it takes for you to finish one task. Once you’re done, review your method from the time you started on the task until its completion. Can you finish the same task but faster the second time and make it well within the project deadline? Part of how to manage project deadlines is figuring out which habits set you back and which ones spring you forward. After you make changes to your method of going about things, try a time management technique to see if one of them works for you. Whether it's Pareto, Pomodoro, Pickle Jar, or something else, remember to follow the principle: work for a big chunk of time, 30 or 40 minutes straight and take small breaks in between. Doing this exercise will surprise you when you survey the results.
4. Divide the work
You can’t conquer the mountain in just one step. It takes a lot and little by little, you’ll cover each mile until you reach the summit. The same goes for how to manage project deadlines. You need to take a project apart so you can come up with an efficient and sensible plan of attack. Little by little, you’ll get the job done. Start with the more labor-intensive and time-consuming parts of the projects first. This way, if you fail on the first try, you still have more than enough time to try again and succeed. Try to make this a habit and add it to your list of how to organize a project timeline. Once all the bigger tasks are done, you can cruise through the smaller ones and over the finish line.
5. Use tools
No, it does not mean you’re weak or a failure. Tools are around to help you get the job done quicker and better when you’re managing multiple projects, objectives, and deadlines. There are some things that you can’t do how to manage project deadlines but tools can do those things for you. Some tools are useful in helping you break down projects into smaller tasks, manage your time or see the project timeline. There are project management tools that you can use online. The great thing is that these tools are free to use. You can also get your hands on tools that allow you to exchange messages with colleagues so you can send out an SOS if necessary. There are also tools that allow you to share files with teammates and cloud storage for said files.
6. Take breaks
The old adage still applies: all work and no play make you burnt out, sloppy and unmotivated. Trying to champion on through is commendable but knowing when to pause to rest is more important. You might not like resting especially when you’re in the groove but you will thank yourself in the long run especially in relation to how to manage project deadlines. It doesn’t even have to be long. A 5-minute break to stretch your legs is sometimes enough. Just make sure you actually stand up and step away from your computer. Detaching yourself from the work in this way helps your brain to reset and refresh. You can then go on for longer, this time with more energy and a clearer mind. You might even get an idea that will make the project amazing on your way to the office pantry.
7. Ask for help
For a lot of people, asking for help is the most intimidating thing. We all want to be able to do things on our own and run our own show but more often than not, we’re unable to. There’s a reason why “no man is an island” still stands to this day. How to manage project deadlines include asking for help especially when you need it. Circumstances and situations constantly change and emergencies come up here and there. You’ll never know when you’re needed somewhere else other than your workplace. You need to be able to reach out to your teammates and ask for a helping hand or a sub when necessary. This not only frees up time for you to do what you need to do somewhere else but this ensures that work is getting done and the project deadline is going to be met.
BONUS: Celebrate your wins
Oftentimes when we’re managing multiple projects, objectives, and deadlines, we tend to move swiftly from one thing to another without a second thought. This means the little things are missed and these are the little things that should be celebrated. And why shouldn’t you celebrate? You did the work and did it well. Of course, you should celebrate. Make sure to take the time to pause and celebrate your small victories. Finished a task within the deadline? Get yourself a cup of coffee and take a post-lunch leisurely stroll around the office building. Are you on track to finish the project well on time? Get yourself a nightcap once the workday is done. Celebrating your wins, no matter how small, will motivate you to work harder and better so you have more reasons to pamper yourself for a job well done.
One last tip
How to manage project deadlines, especially when you’re managing multiple projects, objectives, and deadlines, can be very challenging. Thankfully, it’s not entirely impossible. All that’s necessary is taking a closer look at your work ethics as well as your habits, getting the right tools, and shutting out distractions.
If you want to be more efficient in meeting your project deadline as well as how to organize a project timeline, we hope you find this article helpful. Do yourself a favor and get some effective tools and network with colleagues. Pretty soon, you’ll be knocking out task after task as well as project after project in no time.