Meeting deadlines: 12 proven strategies to be on time

Meeting deadlines: 12 proven strategies to be on time

Everyone in business knows how hard it is to keep up with multiple projects, especially when meeting deadlines is the ultimate goal. Every client wants a promptly completed project, irrespective of the workload you may be accumulating or the number of your employees. This will mean keeping motivation high and striving to accomplish specific tasks by the due date to meet deadlines. There are a few proven tips that can make certain you reach your goal of meeting deadlines.

Why is meeting deadlines important? 

We might imagine we would thrive in a work environment without deadlines hanging over our heads, but this kind of work environment could become a problem for both the staff and the company in the long run. 

Setting and meeting deadlines is essential as it helps with time management and accountability; it helps employees remain accountable for every task assigned to them. At the same time, deadlines reassure clients whose ultimate aim is to get work done and receive completed tasks on a deadline. The following reasons show the importance of meeting deadlines:

  • Meeting deadlines proves your credibility and helps grow your business; after all, people only patronize businesses that can deliver good work on time. 
  • It also encourages loyalty amongst your clients or customers.
  • Timeliness increases productivity amongst employees. When you cultivate a culture of meeting deadlines, every employee is mandated to follow suit. With productive employees, growth is inevitable.

How can you meet deadlines at work? Here are our top 12 tips! 

Everything worth doing is worth doing well. Despite the challenges that you may be facing in your company, some other people have it easy. The following are some tips that have been proven in the workspace to help employees meet goals.

1. Create a timeline for the creative department.

When looking to start a new larger project or create an advertisement, the first thing to know is that deadlines matter. Assign deadlines for the creative department. This means all the advertising pitches must be prepared on a detailed schedule. 

This will help you toss less appealing ideas and focus on developing the more attractive ones. It also bars excessively poor ideas and helps with time management. One of the challenges that may plague this phase, leaving you with a missed deadline, is called “creative block.” This is simply the inability to think up creative ideas or a lack of creative thinking, often due to time pressure. 

When this happens, however, there are some ways to get past it and tap your organization’s creativity again. Some remedies include: 

  • listening to music and eliminating distractions 
  • taking a walk
  • brainstorming with your team
  • watching funny videos
  • taking a nap

2. Define a deadline for production. 

When an idea from the creative department has been finalized, the next step is the production phase. During production, project managers divide the project into smaller tasks and assign them to the appropriate professionals. 

The project managers will also set deadlines for completing the assigned tasks. This will no doubt involve a lot of multiple milestones like casting or filming or print and graphics. 

The challenge that will likely be faced at this stage is coordinating all the smaller tasks and identifying dependencies. This can be done by encouraging communication between each department, such as asking project managers to share their difficulties and request assistance when needed. If every department communicates effectively, production time can be cut in half.

3. Identify task dependencies.

Identifying task dependencies will help with meeting your deadlines. This simply means clearly defining the order in which the tasks need to be started or finished. When task dependencies are identified, work can progress as planned without hiccups. Moreover, your team can prioritize the crucial tasks over the less urgent ones. 

Identify task dependencies - meeting deadlines
Image source: Gantt Pro

Video production, for example, is a task that is dependent on a couple of smaller tasks. You need to decide on the creative direction and create a storyboard before you can shoot the video. Here you can learn more about the different types of dependencies. 

4. Break down work into smaller tasks. 

One way to meet deadlines with less stress is by breaking down projects into smaller goals and proceeding from there. Look at it this way: Every project is a series of smaller tasks that make up a whole. This means that you are one step closer to completing projects with every task achieved. 

You can break down larger projects into smaller tasks by identifying every milestone and what it requires. For example, an advertising company with a new project to market soft drinks starts this process by generating creative ideas. Once an idea is approved, the next milestone will be the production of all needed deliverables. Production could entail casting, filming, and graphic editing, among other tasks. 

Break down work into smaller tasks - meeting deadlines
Image source: Miro

When you split a project into milestones and tasks, the project no longer seems like a big mountain that is impossible to climb. Instead, you can always focus on the next task and get closer to your main goal step by step. 

This creates a positive psychological effect for the whole team as everyone will have a feeling of accomplishment when each milestone or task is completed. It also motivates team members to approach and complete the next milestone with greater energy. 

5. Prioritize tasks. 

When completing a project, you must prioritize your tasks and also make sure you can handle other issues that may arise. Prioritization is an important part of project management in which you determine the order of tasks to be accomplished according to their level of importance at a particular time. You could be working on multiple projects, but when you need to meet a deadline on a particular one, that one takes priority. 

You should schedule each project according to its deadlines so you don’t end up inadvertently missing one. Plus, there may be instances when you are putting the finishing touches on a project and some creative idea pops up that could make the project better. While it could be tempting to delay in order to include the creativity, it is better to still meet the deadline and suggest your creative addition to the client. 

For more on this topic, check out this article on prioritizing work.

Prioritize tasks - meeting deadlines
Image source: actiTIME

6. Add a buffer. 

If you work for a company that handles multiple projects, adding a buffer to your deadlines won’t hurt. Know how you set your watch thirty minutes earlier just so you do not miss a flight? It’s about the same, but in this case, you’re setting your internal deadlines two or three days earlier than the date agreed on with the client. 

This way, you can complete projects and manage your time without feeling overwhelmed. You can also gather feedback from your colleagues if your work is completed ahead of the deadline. 

You never want to be the employee who is late for a meeting that was scheduled a month earlier or who has a log of missed deadlines on various projects because you had no buffer time. Creating a buffer acts more like a fail-safe, something that can guarantee success and help you manage work clutter.

7. Define focus time.

When working on projects with a tight deadline, define your daily focus time. There are a lot of things that could constitute a nuisance or cause genuine distraction from your work, such as multiple incoming Slack messages, meeting invitations, private calls on your phone, and much more. 

If you’re in a physical office space, you could even have clients waiting to be seen in person. There are many things competing for your attention on the web, in your office, or even in your mind. However, during your focus time, you have to turn everything off that could be a source of distraction. 

The goal is to have some dedicated time that allows you to work on projects without getting interrupted. You will be truly surprised by the amount of work you are able to get done in just a few hours without distractions. 

8. Keep track of projects and deadlines. 

When you are immersed in multiple projects and the race to meet deadlines, any one of your projects could fall through the cracks, and no one wants that. So, in addition to your ability to stay focused, you need a planning tool that helps you keep track of your projects and tasks.  

Such a planner should include all project milestones and tasks as well as a detailed timeline of all your projects. This will keep you sane amidst the chaos and also ensure you can finish every task on time. Checking your planner first thing in the morning will help you shape your day and prepare your mind for the tasks ahead.

Note: The act of adding a task to your calendar by typing it or writing it down will also make you less likely to forget about it.

Keep track of projects and deadlines
Image source: Asana 

9. Communicate with your co-workers.

Every organization thrives on effective communication. Where communication is poor, multiple projects could get muddled up or delayed. It is imperative to work closely with co-workers and establish good communication. 

When everyone is on board the communication train, each department will understand and be committed to a clear deadline for every aspect of a project. And for a project to succeed, the communication plan should be as simple as possible. 

It could take the shape of regular meetings to discuss progress and challenges, planned updates in work channels like Slack, or even notes shared via email chains. The key is to keep the communication process transparent so everyone is clear on task progress.

With Filestage, you can easily share files with colleagues to get their feedback on or approval of your work. 

Leave feedback on files with Filestage
Image source: Filestage

10. Ensure everyone is on the same page. 

If your client is not happy due to miscommunication that occurred early in the project planning stages, it’s likely your team will be held responsible for this mistake. This can result in wasted time, money, and resources and ultimately, an unhappy client, which is never good for business.

That’s why it is important that everyone, both client and colleagues, is on the same page regarding the set goals for a project’s outcome. 

Therefore, host a meeting at the beginning of the project with everyone involved to clearly communicate the stated outcomes of the project. It makes sense to define smaller goals like project milestones too so that everyone knows what needs to be completed and by when.

11. Don’t overcommit. 

No matter how dedicated you are to productivity, be sure not to undertake more tasks than you can complete at any one time. There can be flattery involved in being called a workaholic, but don’t be tempted to overcommit. The results of dealing with multiple projects on tight deadlines often include confusion and fatigue, which could result in missed deadlines too. 

Moreover, missed deadlines will automatically result in wasted time and monetary loss for the company. Too much work can also reduce your productivity level, as even the creative juices need some time to refill. 

So, get a daily planner, add to it all the projects you are handling, mark off the completed tasks, and take your time for the ones left on your list. Generally, quality is more important than quantity. This means you should take time and conserve energy to create your best work. 

12. Learn from previous mistakes.

Although missing a deadline is something we want to avoid at all costs, it is bound to happen sometimes. When it happens to you, rather than beat yourself up about it, take it as a learning experience. Think of where you went wrong and avoid making the same mistake in the future.

Use Filestage to ensure you meet tight deadlines

With Filestage you can share all your work, including designs, documents, and videos, in one central place and get feedback faster. By setting clear due dates for each file, reviewers understand exactly when they need to review or approve a specific file. 

Having such clear deadlines for files helps reviewers better schedule their own work. Plus, you can speed up review rounds and keep projects moving forward.

Use Filestage to ensure you meet tight deadlines
Image source: Filestage

The central dashboard of Filestage also enables you to maintain a clear overview of each file’s status and progress. This way you can organize your resources effectively as you receive feedback. When you share, review, and approve all your files in Filestage, you’ll hit every deadline.

Conclusion

Deadlines are essential to creating structure and ensuring accountability. They are also necessary because no one works in perpetuity. Moreover, deadlines ensure that work is prioritized and productivity remains high. 

Meeting deadlines is important to both maintaining your reputation and growing your business. Make sure you incorporate our tips in your daily workflow to really see a difference in your team’s time management. You can start with simple tips like getting a planner to organize your daily tasks and blocking a few hours of focus time on your calendar.  

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