Countdown to a Deadline: Time Management Tips for Tackling Looming Deadlines
Planning a family vacation, but looking at a mountain of work? Is a looming deadline getting too close for comfort? What about that product launch that requires a laundry list of to-do’s to go off without a hitch?
It doesn’t matter the deadline or the to-do’s, the time frame or the task list, the approach is the same: you need to countdown to your deadline with a clear plan. When there’s no time to waste, you need to make every second count!
3-2-1 – GO!
Counting Down to Your Deadline
Get a Handle on the BIG Picture – Stop and take inventory of what needs to be done down to the smallest detail. Tackling a big deadline requires fully understanding exactly what you are up against so don’t forget to include personal and family activities as well.
Do the Math Reality Check – Assign each task a time estimate. Guess high (and yes, add a 10% buffer). Now calculate how much time between now and your deadline you have to dedicate to your deadline.
Ruthlessly Prioritize – Chances are you have way more to-do than you can reasonably accomplish. Start by figuring out which tasks you can skip, which ones fall to the very bottom of the list, and which ones absolutely positively must get done.
Map Out a Step-by-Step Plan – Only the essential tasks make it to the step where you put your plan to paper and be reasonable about how much time you have to work with. It’s okay to assume weekends and evenings for the short-term, but if you deadline is months away, don’t count on those extra hours.
Find Opportunities to Cut Time – Now that you are facing a seriously busy schedule, find ways to cut time. This means looking for opportunities for efficiencies, like batching tasks or doubling up on related tasks as well as dumping or delegating a few more tasks.
Do Regular Time Checks – Refer back to your step-by-step plan regularly. Are you where you should be in terms of your tasks? Is it still reasonable for you to hit your deadline? If not, you need to adjust your schedule or cut out a few more ‘Nice to Have’ tasks.
Stay Focused on the Countdown – Avoid distractions! That means spending less time where you are the most tempted (ahem…social media) and posting reminders to keep you on track. Use your regular time checks to stay focused and motivated to reach your goal!
This post was brought to you by a seriously hectic week with an incredible amount of to-do’s, but with a little bit of planning and a lot of focus, everything that had to get done got done!