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12 expert tips to help you stay on track
12 expert tips to help you stay on track

Overwork is a symptom of poor planning.

12 expert tips to help you stay on track
12 expert tips to help you stay on track

The reputation of someone who always gets the job done on time is worth a lot. But it does not arise by itself, just because you try very hard, do not get enough sleep, and generally work like a horse. All of the above are extreme measures for someone who does not know how to plan.

Here are some key principles to help you manage the workload and complete your project on time.

1. Realize that not meeting deadlines is always a personal choice

There are areas where almost the only way to get a good project is to lie to the customer that you will cope with the task faster than your competitors. But remember that working in such an industry is solely your choice. And if it is done, then it is worth accepting that the deadlines will inevitably be missed, and you will have to cope with anxiety and other unpleasant emotions.

2. Consider the possibility of change

Since it all comes down to personal choice, consider another industry - one where meeting deadlines is expected and appreciated. In it, you can get the satisfaction that you keep promises and benefit people.

3. Don't make false deadlines

The temptation is great, because an early deadline looks like a good incentive: all team members will accurately complete their tasks before the real deadline comes. But people are different. One will listen to your words and really do everything on time. And the other will consider the date you specified as just a recommendation.

A more effective move is to explain to employees from the very beginning what exactly is meant by the deadline and what the consequences will be if you all together break it. And the false deadline is something like a famous story about a boy who wastedly shouting: "Wolves!" When he was really attacked, no one came to help.

4. Leave some time

Don't make promises to partners and customers based on internal deadlines. A project that has no time to spare is likely to be delayed. Not possible, but for sure. The longer the period between the completion of the project and the delivery to the customer, the higher the likelihood that you will fit into the deadline.

5. Appreciate the effort you put in

Doing something right on time is more expensive than doing the same thing in a “when it works out” format. And if you're not breaking deadlines, treat it as a value that should be included in your pay. Then use the money you earned to make sure you don't miss the next deadline.

6. Tell yourself the main problem

To meet deadlines, you need a systematic approach to planning and moving forward step by step. If you are constantly cutting corners or burning out by the due date of the project, you most likely have a systemic planning problem. And it needs to be addressed.

7. Revise the assignment if necessary

Performing the agreed work only partially, just to meet the deadline, is obviously a losing move. It is much more competent to constantly be in touch with the customer and, if necessary, revise the terms of reference together by deleting or adding separate blocks. "Now we will do this, but this will be in the next version" is a perfectly acceptable message. Especially when people expect to receive the product on time.

8. Break the global deadline into several local ones

If you have a large, ramified project, then setting a single deadline is ill-advised: you will definitely not be in time. Better to break the total deadline into 10-15 intermediate ones. This will allow you to understand how the business is progressing and to react to local delays before it is too late.

9. Do not expect to take quantity

The mythical concept of "man-month" is a serious trap. Nine people, even with very great efforts, will not be able to bear and give birth to a child in one month. It will not always be possible to speed up a project by hiring more employees.

If you solve the problem of deadlines in this way, then most likely you will not be in time. Consider an alternative: have a sufficient number of people at any stage of the project, and these stages move in parallel, if possible.

10. If something can be decided in advance, do it

When you only need one person to approve each stage of a project, it is unlikely that you will be able to run multiple processes in parallel. But if a strict specification is drawn up in advance, many things will be approved before the start of the project.

11. Separate business from emotion

When you discuss approaching a deadline, the discussion often boils down to issues of trust, shame, and appreciation for each person’s efforts. For such discussions to be effective, it is better to understand systemic complexities and rely on real data, rather than emotions.

12. Don't be silent about problems

Such difficulties will not be resolved on their own. In today's world full of instant messengers and other connectivity options, there is not a single technical reason why a manager could not know about the progress of a project and the problems that arise as well as the team.