I have found that this is a mistake. If I start a project but don't have a timeframe attached to it, I often let it sit for a while when I encounter an obstacle. When I've set a deadline for the whole project or just a small part of it, I most often push on through the obstacle, and I feel much better for the effort.
Here are some ways to ensure you meet your deadlines:
- Take a good hard look at your work habits. Are you using your time wisely? Are you working only on projects you like and having to rush to complete the others? Are there too many interruptions? Analyzing what is hindering you in trying to meet deadlines is a beginning.
- Next, rearrange your schedule and work habits to get more work done. Set a schedule that will help you be productive and let others in your life know that you need some un-interrupted work time. This is especially important if you work at home. Many neighbors and friends don't take work hours seriously. Let them know when you are working and when you are free.
- Approach each work assignment individually. If a work assignment is large, divide it into manageable parts. For example, if you are writing a book, don't set a deadline for finishing the whole book. Instead, set a deadline for small chunks, such as a chapter or scene at a time.
- Based on the amount of time before your deadline, establish due dates for each part of the assignment. Write due dates on the calendar for reference.
- Check your calendar each day to determine what parts of your work assignments are coming due. Set priorities and work on the ones that are due first.
- If you don’t meet one of your mini-deadlines, don’t let it slide. Immediately re-work your calendar to redistribute your work.
- If you have multiple work assignments, repeat the process for each of them.
- If you know with certainty that you will not meet your deadline on a particular work assignment, it’s best to tell your client (or admit it to yourself) early on, rather than waiting until the due date. That way you can negotiate an agreeable replacement due date.
Remember that when looking at your workload and deadlines, it's also important to ensure the quality of your work. Don’t let the work slide to the last minute. If you do, you may have to sacrifice quality and that's never good. Get organized for a more enjoyable and productive work experience.