Boosting your own productivity by getting ahead
Let’s face it, we’re living in a world of distraction and procrastination. Why work on that deadline when you can set aside time tomorrow and binge on Orange is the New Black while tweeting today? Why do the tedious work right now when it’s out of sight and out of mind?
Most people struggle with these challenges, but putting a formula in place can not only help you to meet your deadlines, but beat them. Getting ahead of your work deadlines can lead to higher quality work, and lower stress levels (not to mention, Netflix is better as a reward than a procrastination tool)
Let’s talk about some of the ways you can begin to get ahead of your deadlines, and don’t worry, this won’t hurt too much, we promise!
10 Tips to get ahead of deadlines
- Make a plan for the project. Break the project into parts. If you need research and data from others, request it early on, so that you have it when you’re ready to use it.
- Focus on one part of the project at a time.
- Stay on top of the information that you have asked others to provide. Give them a reasonable deadline, but build some leeway into it. Document your requests. Consider another avenue if they aren’t getting back to you.
- Set an early deadline to have the project completed. Do not deviate from that time. Use a formula of one-day for one week. If your project is due four weeks out, make the deadline four days earlier.
- Don’t waste time on proofreading and editing until the project is complete. Don’t get caught up in the minutia.
- Get the big parts done first. Finishing a bigger part of the project gives you a sense of completion and accomplishment.
- Maintain notes of your research. Use Evernote or another app to store any websites you visit and other notes so that you don’t have to keep looking for them.
- Keep a calendar. Use it for more than the final deadline. Stay on top of short deadlines and tasks. When you’ve asked someone for information, note the deadline you gave them. Set reminders to keep you on task.
- Delegate small tasks. Make choices about using your time for high-value tasks.
- Don’t procrastinate. You also don’t want to confuse busyness with productivity. Make sure what you are doing is getting you to the end result. It’s easy to get lost in data gathering and research.
When all else fails, as soon as you realize you’re in a time crunch, go to your client or boss and explain why you didn’t meet the deadline and what you did do to get the project done on time.
I’ve been using these tips for years, and I rarely miss my deadlines, and when I do it’s because I didn’t follow my own guidelines. Except once, when our King Charles Spaniel threw up all morning from the medication she was taking. Fortunately, my boss understood.