Heaviness, sweat dripping down your brow, your eyes checking the date and time every now and then—the rush that comes with meeting a deadline can leave any person exhausted.
But we all know that deadlines are crucial to a project's success. Without a deadline in place, we'd have no sense of urgency, direction, or motivation to get anything done. This is why scheduling due dates for tasks and milestones are core TeamGantt features.
Unfortunately, plenty of projects continue to suffer due to delays, missed deadlines, and failure to follow-up. And when a project slows down or fails, it means thousands of dollars down the drain and precious hours spent for naught.
If you're constantly missing your deadlines or rushing at the last minute, you can take the necessary steps to make important changes to your system.
Why do you miss your deadlines?
If meeting project deadlines is a challenge for you, it's one of either two things: external distractions or circumstances (i.e. a family emergency) or a lack of commitment.
The second reason is an internal issue where it's easy to forget a deadline or procrastinate when we don't consider them as a priority. Moreover, we tend to avoid taking action if doing so would cost us our time, effort, and physical and emotional comfort.
With this being said, the first step to meeting your deadlines is to treat them as sacred and crucial, to see them as a priority.
Consider all that are accountable to the project, the time and effort you and your team have spent on the project, and the costs involved if you fail to meet them.
This mindset will help you stay focused and determined to work hard towards meeting all of your project deadlines.
7 Key Steps to Meeting Your Project Deadlines
There are steps you can take to ensure that you meet your project deadlines each and every time.
Here are 7 key steps that you can implement into your existing workflow:
1. List down all of the project tasks and milestones. Write them as action steps instead of vague and generic phrases for added motivation.
2. Choose a reasonable deadline based on the complexity of the work to be done. You don't want to make the mistake of setting a deadline you can't meet. Analyze the complexity of the work and estimate a reasonable amount of time needed to get it done.
3. Schedule a deadline for each task and milestone. If it's not scheduled, you're less likely to meet it on time. Use a calendar tool like Google Calendar to schedule task and milestone deadlines so you'd receive notifications for each one.
4. Add a reasonable cushion to every deadline. A cushion is extra time given in case there are delays, problems, or issues that could in any way bring the project to a sudden halt. Leo Baubata suggests adding time estimates to each task and milestone, and then adding a cushion to each.
5. Have an accountability partner work with you. Whether it's your project lead, a client, or a stakeholder, these people will hold you accountable and will motivate you to meet your deadlines on schedule.
6. Focus on just one task at a time. Multi-tasking may seem like getting more done, but having to think about so many things at the same time can leave you feeling burnt out and disorganized. Focus your time, effort, and attention on just one task. Once you've completed it, being able to tick it off of your list will motivate you to move to the next task.
7. Set reminders for each deadline. On TeamGantt, you can activate project notifications so you'll receive email notifications about projects with tasks due. If you're using Google Calendar to keep track of your events and deadlines, you can retrieve your project's calendar link and add it to your Google Calendar account.
Here are other tools that you can use
What happens if I still miss my deadlines?
There are things beyond your control that may hinder you from meeting your project deadlines.
When this happens, the best thing any professional should do is to accept the mistake and learn from the experience. More importantly, communicate the difficulties to your accountability partners and suggest what can be done to make up for the lost time.
Meeting project deadlines on time shows initiative and willingness to complete the project, thus making you an invaluable member of your team. Use these seven steps to ensure that you're always on top of your project schedule and that you don't miss a single deadline from hereon.
Q: What is your #1 tip to staying on top of your project deadlines? Let me know in the comments below.