How to Cope with Tight Deadlines. . .(or “I need this yesterday”)

Deadlines can be tools to help get things done or they can be stress generators. Know your personality and be realistic about how you work most effectively. Are you a procrastinator? A “get it done ahead of time or I can’t sleep type of person”? Build your deadline strategies with a realistic assessment of your strengths and weaknesses in scheduling and meeting deadlines. Some tips to help you. . .

  1. ORGANIZE Put your deadlines in one place, whether on a calendar, in your phone or on a paper list. There are apps available, but whatever you use should be easy to view and access.
  2. BREAK IT DOWN With a large project, instead of focusing on the final deadline or deliverable, break it down into smaller tasks, with separate deadlines. Can you hand something off for someone else to begin? With a plan, you can focus on Step #1, without feeling so overwhelmed.
  3. CUSHION IT Build in a cushion into the deadline so that if the inevitable bump in the road comes along, you have a little time to regroup and still hit the mark.
  4. QUICK REVIEW If you can do a quick review of a project or task, even if you can’t work on it right away, you can catch things that might be missing or questions that need answering that may delay your completion of the task. Waiting until the last minute to discover these will mean guaranteed stress!
  5. COMMUNICATE Review expectations with your client, including deadlines on both sides, to avoid misunderstanding and Email makes it easy to demand quick turnarounds, so outreach is important to ensure everyone is on the same page.
  6. DON’T SET YOURSELF UP TO FAIL Be honest! Can you realistically meet the deadline? Being honest about the schedule will be a win/win for you and a potential client, and most times, there is room to negotiate.
  7. CATCH 22 Committing to a deadline that is above usual expectations should come at a higher value. This could mean charging a rush fee or setting the expectation that additional work will follow that will be in line with your regular business guidelines. Just be clear with the client so that last-minute jobs do not become commonplace. Coming through at the last minute can make you an asset, but in most cases, you do not want it to be your profile.
  8. WHATEVER IT TAKES Once committed to a deadline, do whatever it takes to meet Stay up late, hire some help, pull out all the stops! The customer will ALWAYS remember that one time you didn’t meet their deadline.


Chris Geimer

Chris Geimer Design