“Capable of meeting deadlines” is a line you have probably seen in many a job posting. Whether the opening is for a journalist, a speech therapist, a teacher, or a delivery person, “capable of meeting deadlines” is not something that employers are willing to forego.
Because in most jobs, tasks need to be completed in a timely fashion. And whether you’re looking for a job or trying to improve in your current job, it’s not like you can say, “Well, this job needs someone who’s good at meeting deadlines, so I’ll just look for something else.”
Nope. That’s not how it works.
So what do you do, if time and time again you fail at meeting deadlines?
First, don’t despair. You’re smart, you’re capable, you’re a hard-worker — and if you decide that you want to complete work projects on time, you can. You just need a little help getting there.
Here are 5 tips that can turn you into a deadline-meeting machine.
Okay, we know that you don’t meet deadlines, but why? Are you juggling so many projects at work that you’re overwhelmed? Do you prioritize less-important tasks over more-important ones? Are you a procrastinator? Or are you just naturally forgetful?
Once you find your point of weakness, you can address it. If you’re overwhelmed, talk to your supervisor or direct reports. Delegate tasks. Create priorities lists. If you procrastinate, find a method that can help you. (Here’s a good one.) And if you’re naturally forgetful, there’s an app for that! Many apps, in fact, that can help you stay organized and keep track of your numerous tasks. The point is, once you identify what your issue is, you can work on it.
When your boss or colleague asks you to do something at work, your initial response is probably to say yes. Which is natural. You want to be seen a team player, after all. And you’re absolutely capable of taking on that task. So saying yes is the smart choice, right? No, not always! In some cases, it’s important to say yes. But in other cases, it’s equally as important to say no. Once you start saying no and taking on less responsibilities, you free yourself up to complete the tasks at hand — on time!
And in the same vein, if your boss asks you whether you can take on a new project and complete it by x date, you are allowed to say, “Yes, I can take this on, but realistically I won’t be able to complete it by y date.” This is a totally valid response, and you will feel empowered by owning what you can and cannot do.
If your workload is manageable but you find yourself getting distracted (understandably!) by Facebook or your favorite Netflix show, trying out an app that minimizes distractions is a great option. Sure, you may not like the idea at first (what will you do if your Facebook feed isn’t open in your browser??), but you may slowly learn to love it as you realize how much easier it becomes to complete your work and meet your deadlines.
If you need to complete a 200-page doctoral thesis, setting a deadline a year in advance won’t actually encourage you to complete it on time. On the other hand, if you set yourself mini-deadlines, that can be a game-changer. In the example of the 200-page thesis, you can break your tasks down like this:
Or if you agreed to complete a many-faceted assignment at work by a certain date, don’t just keep the end-date in mind; create a bunch a mini-deadlines for individual tasks, which can help you achieve your ultimate goal of a deadline-met work assignment.
“What does sleep have to do with meeting deadlines?” you are probably asking, but hear me out. Did you know that when we sleep, our brains clean out all our unnecessary thoughts and clutter? Yep, it’s true. When you get enough sleep, you are more equipped to battle your procrastination tendencies, to make good decisions about your priorities, and to have enough energy to operate productively. (This is also one of the reasons why experts recommend getting enough sleep over staying up late cramming for exams.)
Let’s be real — it’s taken you a decent amount of time to build the habit of not meeting deadlines — so correcting this habit won’t necessarily happen overnight. But if you consistently use the strategies that work for you, you will see improvement, and more importantly, see results.
Submitted by Elana