For the western hemisphere, time is watched in a very critical way. In our daily lives we have alarm clocks to get us up and going; we have time clocks to punch in and out of work; we have sleep timers on our televisions so it will turn off at a certain time; and we have notification ‘dings’ on our electronic calendars to remind us and keep us on schedule. Yet, even with all of this, many people have difficulty showing up on time and meeting deadlines. I work each and every day with about 75 engineers – and many of them don’t even know the concept of time or the meaning behind hard deadlines. But, I digress. For employees, it’s vital to be mindful of time and to meet set deadlines in order to be effective and productive in accomplishing the goals and objectives of their organization, department and/or team.
Here are a few steps that have helped me through the years to get all tasks completed on time so that deadlines are met and performance is enhanced:
- Be Clear about Expectations – It’s critical to understand exactly what is expected by the deadline…as well as, the deadline itself. Ask questions and clarify any vague instructions and re-affirm the deadline date and/or time.
- Plan Your Schedule in Reverse – Start with the deadline period and plan your activities in reverse – allowing able time to complete each activity. Develop specific milestones or benchmarks to identify timeframes within the process so you can measure your progress appropriately.
- Focus on Tasks and Actions – If you’re working with a large or complex project, then it’s important to breakdown larger tasks into smaller, more manageable tasks. Focus on completing each smaller task so that you don’t become overwhelmed with the larger project at hand. This will keep you on track and moving toward meeting the deadline.
- Build in Extra Time – One rule of thumb to remember – ‘It always takes longer to complete than you think.’ So, build in additional time to allow for those unintended obstacles and delays that will pop up along the way.
- Communicate with All Involved – Keep all team players updated on the progress of each step – especially if you are working with multiple individuals and/or locations. One element that will always prevent you from meeting a deadline on time is poor communication. Therefore, be very detailed and concise in keeping communication open with everyone involved.
Get in front of your projects and follow these steps closely, and you’ll develop better time mangement in meeting your deadlines on a regular basis. And remember, no project is too large or too small for these steps to be effective. Begin applying these steps this week to your various projects and you’ll be more secure and confident as you meet your project deadlines.