Regardless of how much you love your business, there will always be times when you have trouble motivating yourself to work. It happens to everyone from time to time. And, during the slow times, you're able to slack off a bit. However, a too-relaxed attitude begins to cause waves when a deadline is looming and you have a project to finish.
Use these seven tips to help you to meet any deadline:
1. Slow and steady wins the race. Unless you're dealing with a last-minute project, it's likely that you're given adequate notice about the deadline. Break each project into manageable increments and chip away at the project one manageable step at a time.
- When you break a large project down into manageable steps, you increase your chances of successfully meeting your deadline exponentially. In fact, if you work at your project consistently instead of rushing to complete it at the last minute, you'll likely be able to turn in high quality work well before the deadline.
- Take a few minutes to see if there are any tasks that can be outsourced to a third-party such as a virtual assistant. Virtual assistants, being highly skilled, can get routine tasks done faster at a reasonable cost, freeing you up to concentrate on the parts of your project that need your personal touch.
2. Create measurable goals. Working towards a deadline without measurable goals is like trying to lose 10 pounds in a month without checking the scale. Create predefined daily goals that allow you to receive feedback on your progress.
- Provide further incentives for your efforts by indulging in a small reward (like a cappuccino) each day you meet a goal. The incentive may give you the extra boost of motivation you need to stay on pace to meet your deadline.
- Using tools like Google Calendar, your iPhone calendar or other apps, create daily reminders to keep yourself on track. I find my smartphone is a very efficient reminder system because it annoys me so much. Knowing that checking off a task guarantees that the alarm won't ring really lights a fire for me.
3. Overestimate the timeline. Rarely does a project run according to plan. There are always unanticipated obstacles to overcome. If you anticipate that you'll need three days to complete a project, tell your boss or client that you'll need four or five days instead.
- If you do happen to complete the project before your quoted deadline, your employer or client will likely appreciate that you've “gone the extra mile” in order to turn the project in before it was due.
4. Hold yourself accountable. A strong sense of accountability is 50% of the battle in meeting deadlines. You've made a commitment to turn the material in by a certain date; it's your responsibility to ensure that you turn it in by the agreed upon deadline. When you're tempted to procrastinate, remind yourself about the consequences of being deemed unreliable.
5. Put yourself in your client's or employer's shoes. Let's say you're getting married and you hire a bakery to create your wedding cake. If the bakery stated that your cake would be at the reception site by 3:00pm, you'd expect to see your cake by the agreed upon time, right? You're counting on that cake, and its late arrival can ruin your wedding day.
- In the same way, you're providing a service that someone is counting on. Depending on the task, you could cost your company or client thousands of dollars by not meeting your deadline.
6. Let it burn. If you tend to procrastinate, get the job done by lighting a fire under yourself. Do whatever you must to motivate yourself to get moving and stay moving. And generally, the more you have to lose, the more motivation you'll find to meet your deadline.
- Tell your wife she can spend every dime of your paycheck on a shopping trip if you turn in your work later than the agreed upon deadline. If you lose, you'll definitely learn a valuable lesson.
7. Offer a discount. In your contract, include a clause that states that the client will be granted a 10% discount if the material is turned in after the agreed upon deadline. This will give your clients peace of mind, and it'll motivate you to meet your deadlines so that you're compensated fairly.
Whether you're a business owner, contractor, or employee, your livelihood depends on your ability to efficiently meet deadlines. Therefore, learning how to meet any and all deadlines you encounter is a key factor in maintaining a successful career.