A Deadline is More Than a Due Date
While it’s true that a deadline is simply the date a task is due, you can also see it as a commitment to get something done. Deadlines move a plan closer to reality. According to Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich, “A goal is a dream with a deadline.”
Adding deadlines to tasks and meeting those deadlines is one of the most effective productivity tools. Without task deadlines, it’s impossible to maintain forward momentum on a project. For most of us, deadlines provide motivation and make us work harder to get it done on time. They set clear expectations for task completion. Once you have a deadline, task management skills can help ensure it’s completed on time.
When you pay attention to deadlines, they can make it easier to organize your time. Working on tasks that are due first and waiting on those with long-term deadlines will be natural. As a result, your time will flow more smoothly, and you’ll meet others’ expectations.
Benefits of Task Management
Effective time management means working smarter, not harder. When applied to tasks and deadlines, working smart means planning the order in which you work on tasks. It means working first on tasks that are due first and working on more challenging tasks when your energy level is high, reducing stress and anxiety levels.
A time management system can help you organize how and when you work on tasks. According to the career website Zippia.com, only 18 percent of people use a time management system at work or in their personal lives. Become part of the small portion of the population committed to effectively managing their time.
5 Steps for Managing Deadlines
Try following these five simple steps to handle any deadline. Task management will become easier once you stop missing deadlines.
- Understand the task. When you’re assigned a task with a deadline, ensure you understand what’s involved and understand how much time you’ll need to complete it. If the deadline seems unreasonable, given the amount of work, this is a suitable time to bring it up.
- Identify the resources you’ll need. Before starting work on a task, identify and gather all the required resources. Although you may have the skills to complete an assigned task, the deadline could require you to seek help. If some work should be shared or delegated, get agreement from all parties.
- Develop a plan to meet the deadline. Don’t depend on luck to meet a task deadline. If multiple resources are involved, you may need to coordinate their delivery. Develop a plan with at least one milestone to help you stay on track. If a task is complex, break it into steps and assign each its own deadline.
- Track your time against your deadline. Effective task management means keeping track of how much time you spend on each task and how close you are to completion. You should be ready to adjust your time on a task if it looks like you’ll miss the deadline, or you may decide to communicate that you need to extend the deadline.
- Have a backup plan. We miss deadlines for all kinds of reasons. One way to mitigate the impact of a missed deadline is to have a backup plan in place. This may mean delivering an incomplete task, delivering it later than expected, or canceling it. Be sure to communicate the backup plan before missing the deadline instead of after.
When it helps you meet a deadline, task management becomes a valuable tool for time organization and motivation. Managing deadlines is the key to time management and meeting short-term and long-term goals.