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B074: How to hit a tight deadline

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It’s crunch time, and you’ve got a tight deadline to hit at work. What’s the best way to approach this, and how can you get prepared to make it all happen, right on time?

You need to send out a big proposal by 5pm, or an awards application in less than 2 hours. Maybe you’ve got a presentation today that you cannot mess up. Everything is riding on the line, people are counting on you. You can’t drop the ball now.

What do you do?

Earlier this week, I spoke with Amber McCue about how to stop feeling behind all the time. I started to appreciate how powerful your mind is when you’re going 80 billion miles an hour. But how can you make sure you meet that deadline, when it’s crunch time?

Here’s what’s working for me these days…

How to hit a tight deadline

1. Honor the deadline

At The Simplifiers, it’s incredibly important that we do what we say we’re going to do. It’s one of our core values, and that includes meeting every tight deadline.

So, a non-negotiable for me is the date and time set for the deadline. Whatever it takes, we hit the deadline, every time. It shows our clients, our partners and our colleagues our integrity and work ethic.

If it’s a recurring deadline that isn’t realistic, we speak up immediately, to set better expectations for all parties.

2. Communicate expectations to all parties

“This is what I’m doing, and by when.”

“Here’s what you’re doing and by when.”

“This is when we’re meeting again to discuss it.”

It’s as simple as that, but so many of us flub it up.

When one person is in the dark on what is expected, resentment builds up and the pillar of trust gets broken down.

Check-in, regularly

Hold regular check-in meetings with your team or your client, to ensure they are getting what they need. Are they receiving things on time, and do they have any ideas about how you could refine your process?

Nip a problem situation in the bud by communicating early on. Write down what you mutually agree on as the plan, and avoid making assumptions. This includes assuming that people can read your mind!

3. Nourish yourself to hit that deadline!

Hydrate, nourish, and give yourself what you need to get things done and hit this tight deadline. It’s amazing how simple things can do the trick. Here are a few ideas:

  • Drink a big glass of water
  • Eat a bowl of raw almonds or raw sugar snap peas
  • Make space on your desk to clear your mind

I don’t know about you but in my early 20s, I could pull an all-nighter to get a term paper written with an energy drink, a wing and a prayer. Now that I’m in my early 40s, that ‘get-up-and-go’ energy doesn’t seem to be as readily available the morning after staying up super late. (Sister needs her sleep!)

Sleep well to #DoTheThing

When I need to hit a tight deadline, I go to bed nice and early and wake up at 5am (before everyone else), while the house is super quiet.

I brew myself a nice cup of coffee and squirrel away in my home office to #Dothething. When I feel refreshed from a good night’s sleep, I’m so much more motivated to get the job done. I recommend you to try it next time you’re in a crunch!

4. Pump up the jams

Another thing that’s working for me is making sure I’ve got my very favorite music on and playing in my headphones. I’ve built a free playlist on Soundcloud called A Whole Lotta Yes! It works every time to squash any negative moods, helps me get in the zone and stay laser focused.

Every 50, move it!

Every 50 minutes or so, get up and move your body. If you work from home, why not have a dance party of one, to get the blood flowing again? If you work in an office, consider taking a lap around the office building or do 10 jumping jacks.

All you need is 5 minutes. Don’t use this as a distraction, but merely as a way to shake the wiggles out before you dive back into hyper-focus on your work.

5. Block out the NOISE

Since you’ve got those headphones on already, this should be a simple step. To hit this deadline, you’ve got to be ruthless in eliminating the distractions around you.

  • Close your office door (if you’ve got one)
  • Tell your co-workers to not disturb you
  • Close all the open tabs in your browser
  • Set your laptop and phone to ‘do not disturb’
  • Don’t let the dog scratch at the door

This is your time to laser-focus in so you can get things done. No exceptions.

6. Ask for help

No woman is an island and you weren’t meant to run this race alone. So, be bold and ask for help. Big or small, it could lessen the load on your shoulders and help you hit a tight deadline when others lend a hand. This could look like asking someone else to:

  • Proofread your work after you’ve written a proposal
  • Create a template that you can copy/paste your work into
  • Deliver lunch to your office, so you don’t have to think about it
  • Answer your phones for the next hour

Ask yourself…

“If I simply focused on the highest yielding tasks in order to hit this deadline, what could I delegate to someone else and make my life easier?”

Do that… immediately! Remember, there is no medal at the end of this for doing the race all by yourself. There are virtual assistants, friends and colleagues ready and waiting to help you.

One final whisper

Lately, I’ve been finding myself contemplating the concept of ‘time’.

Logically, we know that every minute has 60 seconds and every hour has 60 minutes. But what if time is a malleable thing, meaning… what if you could flip the script in your mind on how you define time, in your favor?

Yes, the deadline is looming and the clock is ticking away, but what if you could shift your mindset to believe the following affirmation:

“I’ve got this. I’m doing my best work right now. And I’ve got just the right amount of time to #DoTheThing.”

Say this out loud right now. (Don’t worry, no one is looking.) Repeat it until you feel it in your bones.

This is a gift you’re giving yourself by reprogramming your brain to (truly) believe that you’re fully supported in this moment and you’re doing fine.

“I’ve got this. I’m doing my best work right now. And I’ve got just the right amount of time to #DoTheThing.”

Time is on your side. Laser-focus on the most important tasks. Say no to the rest. And get-err-done.

You can do this, I believe in you.

It’s time to SIMPLIFY.

If this thought of the day inspired you…

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My month-long social media sabbatical has now finished and I’ve decided to return back ever so slowly. Since I’ve stepped away from a regular routine to shake things up, it’s good fun to figure out what I’m introducing back into my regular workflow.

So while I’m not 100% fully back on to social media yet, a great way to connect with me and The Simplifiers team is to leave me a voicemail.

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