Guest Blogger Rosie Gray, Mosaic Learning – 5 Tips For Hitting Project Deadlines

We’re all aware of how important it is to keep our projects on track and deliver on our commitments. But do you have an efficient and reliable system to warn you if all isn’t going to plan?

These five Tips, implemented consistently, are going to help you complete projects, reduce your stress and boost your reputation as a person who ‘delivers’.

Tip 1 Map Out Commitments Visually

Somewhere have a mapped out, up-to-date calendar with your commitments blocked in on it. Key deadlines, meetings, staff 1:1 time, personal commitments and scheduled time for key activities, just put it all on there.

When your calendar shows your commitments accurately, it makes it obvious how finite your time is. It’s unlikely all your ‘to do’s’ are going to fit and that knowledge forces you to prioritise.

When asked to take on more, you’ll immediately know;

  • Can this be handled comfortably?
  • It’ll take some juggling (and maybe negotiating) – but is doable
  • This is an opportunity to turn down or I risk overwhelm

This is one of the most important techniques for me personally, enabling me to hit deadlines consistently. I know what must be done, and when it will be done. By applying simple structure on my schedule, it gives me great freedom and flexibility to respond rapidly to changing events, without forgetting key commitments. This enables me to be both highly productive and have peace of mind.

Tip 2 Communicate Your Plan & Progress

Who needs to know what you’re doing?

Some Senior Managers will only want an overview of the top headlines, others need a degree of detail as your project impacts the success of their own projects.

Agree how regularly and what you’ll report at the beginning of the project and add reminders to your calendar. This reduces interruptions when you’re busy (saving time and pressure), and helps others feel confident you’re on top of the project.

Tip 3 Keep In Touch

If you’re managing a project, you’ll need to know how well those involved are progressing too. Review progress regularly so you know if all is on track. If progress is slipping against milestones, you have time to reschedule or take remedial action. Requirements and priorities change and we have to be flexible and deal with it as events unfold.

Build communication steps into your project plan – for example, ‘when complete email X for signoff’, or ‘when signed off, tell Y and Z’.

This eliminates chasing up for progress reports and avoids nasty surprises threatening completion. Don’t wait until a piece of work is due (or overdue) to wonder where it is – it may be too late to catch up!

Tip 4 Beware Of Perfectionism

If you know you have perfectionist tendencies, ruthlessly limit time scheduled for tasks. And stick to it.

Do the best job possible in the time allocated, and move on to the next task. If there is spare time later, by all means go back and refine.

I admit this has been a struggle for me at times, and know it makes a huge difference to completion when I do it. I’m not suggesting you deliver poor quality work, but deliver the very best you can in a realistic and appropriate period of time. Make a timer your ‘best friend’ if you recognise perfectionism can trip up your time schedule!

Tip 5 Be Approachable

Make it OK for people to ask for help if they’re falling behind. This isn’t allowing others to renege on commitments too easily, but recognising it’s preferable to know sooner. Problems can be handled before becoming a major crisis threatening completion of the whole project.

These 5 tips will help you be aware of your overall workload and current status on specific projects. Then if a project starts slipping or events are moving fast, you can flexibly and proactively manage the situation. If necessary, take any damage limitation actions required to get back in control, confident you’ll remember what else was scheduled.

And the last word today?

‘It always seems impossible … until it’s done.’

Nelson Mandela

Rosie Gray helps Superbusy Professionals, Managers & Business Owners use time wisely, feel less stressed & achieve much more. To receive further practical tips on how you can achieve more of what REALLY matters, go to www.Mosaic-Learning.co.uk & sign up for the complimentary e-book ‘Seize Back Your Time!’, written by Rosie.’

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