“Why the heck am I missing deadlines?”
Does that sound like you?
That used to be me talking. And to be honest, I still say it sometimes. Whether with a good or bad excuse, we all miss at least one deadline in a months-long run.
Meeting deadlines is a skill. It’s a test of character. It gives you pride. It makes you mindful of all the things you have to do—not only work.
If you’re someone who struggles with meeting deadlines, check out these nine qualities I discovered one must have to pull it off.
1. Enthusiasm to Write Down Deadlines
Deadlines could be overwhelming just thinking about them. When you let your mind wander into different possibilities with something you have to finish, it could get you paralyzed, with which your time automatically gets eaten up.
Don’t let these thoughts rule in your head. When you start to feel the pressure after a task is handed over to you, write your plans—write the deadlines!
Learn the enthusiasm for writing down deadlines. Always take with you, at your convenience, anything on which you can write them. Then organize them to form a grand list of all your deadlines.
Having something tangible and organized to literally guide your life is way better than simply thinking about those deadlines—which would only mean you’re not being serious with them.
Being organized covers more than the physical aspect of your workplace.
Remember that organizing things aims to organizing yourself.
If your desk is cluttered, keep the unnecessary objects in shelves or drawers. You might see something you’re fond of that would only interrupt your train of thought. If you think people around you are noisy, get yourself some good earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones. They can’t blame you. You need to be undistracted. If the workplace is too warm, turn the temperature down. Warm places can make people sleepy.
3. Ability to “Trick” Yourself
This ability alone can differentiate you from many people. It’s “tricking” yourself into thinking that a deadline is a few days or weeks before the actual deadline. Note that what changed is the deadline only. The amount of work and the pace needed shouldn’t change, except perhaps for the first part of it all, which should pull everything else to the earlier portion of the timetable.
I’m a proponent for this “trick.” It feels good to be able to accomplish important tasks knowing they’re still two or three weeks due. This trick also constantly reminds me to keep on working and moving forward. Consistency is the key here. When you miss a “moved” deadline, consider it as if you already missed the real one.
A great tip is to set your “moved” deadline on the same day as the real deadline’s. For example, if your actual deadline is on a Monday, move it to exactly two weeks before that day, which is also a Monday.
Want to nail meeting deadlines? Work in advance. Save yourself from any more stress.
Finishing your work weeks before the actual deadline is a great style. Taking into account possible obstacles, which you couldn’t exactly predict, is another one.
Always assume there are going to be problems beyond your control when you make plans and set deadlines. Think of all the “bad luck” that has happened to you before. You got sick? A storm came? Needed to meet somebody?
Aside from the inevitable hindrances within your work, accept that there are other things you can’t control. Consider them. It will always be a delight to know you didn’t miss a deadline—regardless of whatever that may have happened.
5. Consistency to Break Down Activities into Steps
This is why project management happens. And even though a considerably big project is broken down into activities, these activities may still seem overwhelming, especially to those who’d undertake them. (That would be you.)
Break your activities down. If you become good at it, continue doing so with your future activities. Aside from being organized and systematic, you save yourself from the unnecessary thinking or anxiety over other things that aren’t supposed to be done yet in the first place. Breaking activities down produces concrete baby steps for you to handle. Yes, they are small steps, but they can be so powerful and yield a substantial impact in accomplishing the main activity or project.
6. Courage to Start
Courage. Fortitude. Grit. Guts.
This is finally getting down to business—just starting.
There are plenty of excuses you could make that may only keep you from starting. Or you simply might want to procrastinate. (Who could tell?) Do you find yourself asking questions like, “Why do I need to do this?” or, “Is this something I’m really happy doing?”
You know, reflections. And those reflections come exactly when you’re just about to start. Coincidence? Could be.
Always remember this: You’ve spent some time planning, thinking, even reflecting on all those things you have to do. You know there will be parts of them you might feel you wouldn’t like doing.
There could actually be other reasons no one else is going to know.
Take courage to start.
You’ve gotten past the planning phase. A future is waiting for you.
Practice makes perfect. Practice speed and you’ll become perfect at it.
Imagine this: You actually don’t have deadlines. You work for yourself. You have all the time. You don’t have a boss. Nobody’s pushing you. But there’s an obvious catch—you’re getting older.
There are plenty of things I won’t trade my time for.
If keeping up with a certain speed means a higher pay, practice that speed. If it means taking more vacations with your family, practice that speed. If it means not losing your sanity, don’t let that speed go.
Being productive for shorter time spans can open new horizons. It gives yourself more freedom. It lets you enjoy life more.
This is a word, which I usually use interchangeably with consistency and persistence, of deep meaning to me.
No “moving of deadlines” will consistently take place, no habits will be formed, and no better attitude will be born if you give up.
You can stop to have a break. You’re not a robot. You get tired. You get fatigued. You get frustrated. You fail. But you only stop to rest. You don’t stop for good.
Believe in your future. You know it is possible. You know many successful people who have already reached your dream, but you also know countless people you don’t persevere and choose to stay in the place you loathe—complacency.
The only thing is, you’re not there yet. You’re on your way, but you can’t see anything yet. Perseverance is moving forward despite all that.
Meeting deadlines can be tough. No two tasks will ever be the same. Some will be easy; some will require your soul.
Everybody becomes happy when you meet your deadlines, but as I said above, if something beyond your control makes you miss one of them, don’t think nonsense like you’re already a total failure.
Be positive—it doesn’t matter if it’s a 1 or 100. Just be positive. Be thankful for everything you’re learning, for the opportunities other people don’t bump into. Keep a happy attitude. Don’t entertain negative thoughts. Take failures as a lesson, not as a dead end.
Think About It
Meeting deadlines is something more than meets the eye. It’s finishing a task or work, without compromising its quality—but more importantly, without compromising yourself.
Take note of these qualities you need on meeting deadlines, whether they’re important deadlines or those you can rather move at a later time (the not-so-urgent ones). What’s important is you know your priorities.
If you set a deadline—follow it.
Sooner or later, you may find some available time for a long break—you should be careful—but you can set a deadline for that, anyway!
Speak Your Mind
What qualities are you working on when it comes to meeting deadlines? Did I miss something? Tell us about it below!