Are you in charge of creating your own deadlines, but still end up blowing past them? Maybe you have clients that are continually checking in on you, but you haven’t made any progress on their projects. When you give yourself the right amount of time, you won’t fall into a guilt spiral for not getting things done when you were supposed to. In today’s episode, we are going to talk about how to create deadlines you can stick with.
How many times have you had a client ask you when something would be done, and you over-promised? It may not have started out that way, but as you take on more work and tasks, it is really hard to gauge how much time you need to get things done from week to week.
Here are a few tips to help you create deadlines that you can stick with.
Questions to Ask To Help You Determine a Timeline
There’s no way to determine how long something will take you down to the minute. So, be more generic with your timelines.
- If I had nothing else to work on, roughly, will the task take me half a day’s worth of work? A full day? A week?
- How many other things do I have to work on this week? How long will they roughly take on their own?
- How many hours in a day can I carve out for an uninterrupted period of time to accomplish a task?
- How many days in a week do I have to work on my projects?
- Is there anyone else on my team or that works with me that can take on extra work if something unexpected comes up?
- What is the client’s expected turn-around on the project?
- Do I have needy clients that take up my time unexpectedly throughout the week?
- Do I have family obligations or potential interruptions that will keep me from getting things done?
Look At The Week Ahead
Every Monday, we sit down and look at the things on our to-do list. We gauge how long we think those other projects will take and then base our deadlines for new work on that. If the week already seems full, we have to push the task to the next week. On really large projects, we may need to push it to the following month.
Create a Schedule
Add one big task to each day of the week that you think you can accomplish. Or at least the main client you plan to focus on each day. Then, fill in with smaller projects or things that can be done faster.
Allow Extra Time For The Project to Take Longer Than Expected
Projects almost never take the amount of time you estimate. Unforeseen things can come up and keep you from reaching your deadlines. It’s important to give yourself a buffer, because you don’t know what roadblocks you will face.
It’s kinda like driving somewhere during rush hour traffic. You wouldn’t leave at the exact time you needed to get somewhere and expect to arrive on time with unpredictable traffic. Same goes with setting deadlines for projects.
Consider Other Last Minute Projects That May Pop Up
During the week, you are liable to have clients that ask for priority work to get completed. Of course, you want to meet their demands if at all possible. It goes a long way in building rapport with a client when you can bail them out by reaching last-minute deadlines. That’s why it is important to plan for this in your day.
If you end up getting the work done early on any of your projects, that’s a bonus! But, giving yourself extra time is better than going over.
Do Work in Order of Priority
When you are working with many different deadlines, it’s important to schedule yourself to work on projects in order of priority. That means you may have to wait to do work you really want to tackle, because you have to wrap up other work first. Don’t let yourself get distracted with non-essential tasks or projects that are due after the priority work.
Renegotiate Deadlines If You Need To
We’ve talked about this before, but you need to renegotiate your deadlines as soon as possible. Don’t wait until the day it’s due or worse…the day after it is due to tell them you can’t get to it. As soon as you think you may not make it, then you need to let them know.
If you keep finding yourself missing deadlines and behind schedule, it may be time to reach out to R5 for help. We’d love to help you take your business to the next level by taking some tasks off your to-do list. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to get started
Until next week, get out there and start breaking the mental chains that are keeping you from producing!