Let's be honest, many of us have the bad habit of procrastinating, especially when we’re not motivated by an immediate personal reward. Deadlines can actually push us to do our greatest work. Below are a couple of great tips I like to give for meeting deadlines and some tools to help you do it.
Figure Out What Your Goals Are
If you want to understand how to stop procrastinating in the long term, you’ll need a systematic approach. Make sure your goals are clearly defined, possible to accomplish and significant enough to allow you to achieve meaningful results.
Make a List of Tasks to Be Done
Setting realistic deadlines is only possible if you know all of the work that needs to be done. Your project manager should create a project plan to help your team understand budget, scope, and time to completion. Once you’re more comfortable in understanding the scope of a project you’ll be able to set more accurate deadlines for the tasks that you will need to complete to reach your goal.
Don’t overlook the value of starting a task. Once you start a task you’re much closer to finishing it and meeting the deadline. Ask yourself, “If I were to take action right now, what’s the smallest possible step I could take?” It’s ok to start small. Just do it, even if your work isn’t perfect.
Once you and your project manager have prioritized the tasks, it’s time to set individual milestones. Work backwards from the ultimate deadline. Your milestones are the smaller goals along the way and the deadline is your destination. I like making subtasks underneath my larger tasks to accurately chart my path. These will keep you accountable to the projects and timeline. When a big project is broken into smaller chunks with due dates, you’ll be much more equipped and motivated to start on the smaller pieces while seeing your progress along the way.
Keep Your Team Updated
Often we don’t share our progress with our teams or managers. They may think you are just humming along or may have even forgotten about the project altogether. This is why it’s important to always keep your team updated. Consider a weekly quick meeting to keep everyone in the loop.
Learn From your Mistakes
Once you meet your deadline and finish your project, it’s good to review and think about how you can improve for the next project. Don’t consider your project finished until you ask yourself, “How could we improve?”; “What worked?”; “What should we not do next time?”