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September 18, 2009 / jasonpinto

Hey Deadline… Meet my boot

Patterns can be an ugly thing. (Grandma! I’m not talking about the stunning quilts that you can make)

One pattern that we can often find ourselves following is “waiting-to-the-last-possible-moment” to complete a project.

Deadlines can become like celebrities – we just love to get real close to them (horrible, right? hopefully it made you smile!).

Perhaps the project is to get content done for a webinar or a presentation…. Do we wait until the day before to start our outline?

Do we wait until the month of a trade show to start finalizing our booth set up?

If we let one project go right to the deadline and it goes okay, its highly possible we’re going to let the next few projects cut it close as well.

When we do cut it that close, it certainly is possible to succeed regardless. But it’s rarely ever going to turn out as good as we possibly could have made it. In fact, we’ll spend more time later kicking ourselves on the things we’ve overlooked or forgot.

Of course, time and resources will push some projects right to the deadline. But if it’s an over-confidence in our own abilities that causes to wait, we need to look at how we work.

If we are in the pattern of waiting a bit too long, there’s a way out:

  • Make an earlier deadline, and make it the only one. Our boss wants to see the slides on 10/1? Make your deadline be 9/22. Forget about 10/1. Do everything possible to get it all done on 9/22.
  • Use Your Help: If you have co-workers who care about you, you can simply ask them for one thing: to check on you and remind you. They don’t have to help get the project done – but they can gently (or aggressively!) ask you how you are doing before the deadline. Even if you know they’re going to ask, it will still help you.

    Work by yourself? Well there are plenty of little tools that can be used as annoying helpers. It could be using the Calendar/Reminder function in your mail client… or in your CRM system. Or on your cell phone alarm! Whatever it is, setting the reminders will help establish the project as a priority in  your mind. And the lovely beeping or flashing that comes along with the reminder will serve as incentive be ready when the reminder comes!

  • Sacrifice: Maybe you’re doing all you can already. But it never hurts to look for ways to work smarter, or better, or to analyze where an extra few minutes or here or there might appear. It might be letting go of something else in your daily routine, but its worth it, you’ll be glad in the end.
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