5 Ways to Cut Down on Missed Deadlines

28 June, 2019

It's a well-known fact that creatives are quite prone to messiness. The Journal of Psychological Science published a study that found being around mess tends to lead you away from convention. Creatives' unique approach to problem-solving and their thought process can often lead to an imbalance in terms of project management.

From a creative's view, sharing ideas will lead to critiques and minuscule changes. However, from the account's perspective, managers become irritated if they are not aware of the status of the current project. Due to the different work processes, managers have resorted to imposing deadlines on critical stages of a particular project.

How can you, as a creative, avoid missing deadlines while still keeping your creative process unaffected? Here are tips:

1. Clearly define your vision

A project that lacks a clear vision has a higher chance of having delays. At the start, spend time clarifying what is intended with your team and manager. A clearly defined vision helps you set a more achievable and realistic final deadline. Be sure not to get too overwhelmed with the number of possibilities.

Every project does not have to be unique. Do not ignore creative thinking, but also, focusing too much on innovation will affect productivity, slowing you down and in the long run, affect your ability to meet set deadlines.

2. Always under-promise

In the occasion where you are the one responsible for setting a deadline, set a time that is more than what is needed. Missing a deadline will have a detrimental effect, however; completing a project ahead of time makes you look good. If a manager has set an unrealistic deadline, try to explain why more time is needed while chasing their stipulated time frame.

3. Manage your tasks properly

Once you have determined what is to be achieved, and the time it will take, managing how it is to be achieved comes next.

  • Break the project down
    Breaking down the project will make it seem less large and overwhelming. It also helps you find out what needs to be done and how vital every task is to the outcome of the project.
  • Estimate the needed time and schedule backward
    After working in a chosen trade, you'll begin to have an idea of the time a particular task usually takes you. With this in mind, come up with your schedule working backwards from the set deadline. Set your project milestones and a reward system that will help keep you motivated and avoid procrastination.
  • List everything that needs to be done
    Come up with a detailed list of the scope of the tasks necessary to complete the project. Also, start every day by writing down a list of what needs to be done to keep your workload manageable.

    Carefully prioritise what needs to be done, when it needs to be done and how it is going to be done every morning. Review this list against set timelines and determine if you have accomplished everything on the list. Give priority to the unaccomplished tasks when you begin working the next day.
  • Make task descriptions granular
    Avoid being vague when describing the tasks to be accomplished. Ensure every task is well detailed allowing you to have a better picture of what you need to complete each task.
  • Look for your 20% Task
    According to the Pareto principle, you get 80% of results from 20% of work; try working out which 20% task will bring in the majority of results. It is difficult filtering out the non-productive tasks, but it is recommended if you want to realise which task contains the most substantial value in terms of project results.
  • Organise task by priority
    There are a few methods of prioritising. For example, the four quadrant matrix addresses the fact that tasks are prioritised by purpose and value. This method is useful when dealing with multiple priorities. There are four quadrants or categories of tasks, and all you need to do is figure out which task goes into which quadrant. The first quadrant has tasks that are important and urgent; the second is for tasks that are important but not urgent, the third holds tasks that are not important but urgent and finally, the fourth deals with tasks that are not important and not urgent. Prioritising helps you to do what matters most at the right time.
  • Start with the most challenging task
    Beginning with the task high up on your list of priorities is mostly known as 'eating the frog'. This is because everything else done that day will seem easy.

    When you are identifying smaller tasks, avoid looking too far ahead. Tasks become less and less important the further away on the schedule they are.
  • Program auto-reminders
    Set yourself reminders for when particular tasks need to be completed. It is recommended not to rely on memory alone; automated reminders prevent certain things from being forgotten and help you avoid missing deadlines.
  • Use task management software
    Project planning and time management have been made easier by the features offered by task management software. Some of those features include Gantt charts, real-time overview, Kanban boards, and deadline reminders.

    The options are almost limitless. Do your research and find task management software that contains features that will improve efficiency and save you time.

4. Monitor your workflow

When it comes to the actual work, it is recommended to maintain a steady operating mechanism. If you are working as a team, every individual should know what he or she is responsible for and be aware of his or her priorities.

Have recaps every week to allow people to report what they have completed allowing you to track the work's fluidity against promised dates.

5. Avoid procrastination

Try focusing on the task at hand and stay away from distractions. In case you are going to put off an aspect of the project, it is essential that you substitute it with another related task. Where possible, simplify complicated procedures to allow innovation and brainstorming.

Deadlines can be intimidating. However, if you have the right tools, and a good work ethic, meeting deadlines will be easy. With proper task management and prioritization, you can meet deadlines without interfering with the quality of your output.

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