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Team Productivity

How to Meet Each and Every One of Your Project Deadlines

Stephanie Gonzaga
August 25, 2015
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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.

The #1 reason you miss your deadlines

Research has shown that 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. Here's how one team structures their project to ensure major deadlines don't get missed.

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.

Here's how to sync project tasks with your favorite calendar app in TeamGantt.

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.

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. 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.

What is your #1 tip to staying on top of your project deadlines?  

Project management milestone examples

Milestones make it easier to keep projects on track by calling out major events, dates, decisions, and deliverables. Here are a few examples of project milestones you might include in your plan:

  • Start and end dates for project phases
  • Key deliveries
  • Client and stakeholder approvals
  • Important meetings and presentations
  • Key dates or outages that may impact your timeline

Let’s dig a little deeper and explore 3 specific examples of how using project milestones can benefit your projects.

Monitor deadlines

No plan is ever complete without a list of deadlines! The best way to make them noticeable is to use the project management milestones and deliverables technique. What does this mean? Make the deliverables project milestones!

Why do this? Well, it’s no secret that not everyone wants to pore over your beautiful project plan to find key dates. Most people—your teammates included—want a top-level view of key dates and events. Milestones are great for this purpose because they’re called out in a special way—usually with a diamond—in project plans.

While you should list the tasks and effort leading up to a project milestone, be sure to present the milestone at the end of those tasks to signify a delivery, or even a presentation of, the deliverable.

Here's an example of how Washington Hyperloop uses milestones to track an important deadline in their project.

Spotlight important dates

Are there days from now until the end of your project that could impact your project in some way? Maybe your team will need to be out of the office for a mandatory training. Maybe there’s a board meeting you’re expected to attend.

It’s important to keep all of these important events in mind when you’re planning a project because they could possibly impact your project schedule. So why not include them as project milestones so you can track them all in one place?

In this example, the team’s off-site strat-op meeting has been added to the project plan as a milestone so work can be scheduled around it.

date milestone in gantt chart

Identify potential project bottlenecks

Many projects rely on the work produced by external teams or partners to make forward progress. If you’re not tracking those external factors somewhere, there’s a great chance you’ll forget to follow-up on it.

That’s why it’s important to list these deliverables as project milestones if you’re working on a project that depends on someone or something outside of your project. Here’s an example of what that might look like for a client approval.

deliverable milestone in gantt chart

Want to hit major milestones on time more often?

We’ve got a free class to help you get everyone on board with your plan! Register for Plan Up: How to Create and Sell a Winning Project Plan to see why planning sets the stage for project success, and get a free Guide to Project Planning when you sign up.

How to create a project milestone

Creating milestones for your project plan can be simple, especially with TeamGantt. Once you’ve mapped out your overall process and plan with your team, you can easily add tasks, identify gantt chart milestones, and determine task owners. Adding a milestone (or converting a task to a milestone) is very easy in TeamGantt.

Once you’ve signed up for a TeamGantt account, here’s a quick video on how to create milestones:

Project milestones are easy to create and even easier to track because you’ve called out the most important points in your project.

How to share project milestones with clients and stakeholders

Want to give clients and stakeholders a high-level view of the project? Simply follow these steps to share a PDF of key project milestones in your gantt chart.

1. Filter your project by milestones.

From your gantt chart view, click the All Dates menu at the top of your gantt chart, and select Only Milestones from the drop-down.

filter gantt chart by project milestones

2. Export your filtered project to a PDF file.

Navigate to your project's Menu, and select Print/Export PDF from the drop-down.

export gantt chart with project milestones to PDF

Customize your PDF settings, then click View PDF to complete the export. From there, you can download and/or print your PDF to share with clients and stakeholders.

share PDF of gantt chart filtered by project milestones

Who would have thought such a critical step could be so easy?

Hit every project milestone with ease

TeamGantt makes it easy to create, track, and collaborate on all your project milestones so nothing slips through the cracks.

You’ll have all the features you need to ensure projects finish on time and under budget—from drag and drop simplicity and team collaboration to customizable views and workload management.

Best of all, it’s all wrapped up in a simple and intuitive interface your whole team will love. 😍

Give TeamGantt a free try today!

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