Jun 21 2012

Setting Realistic Deadlines

Today, the vast majority of people find themselves living over-scheduled lives in which they try to cram activities into every moment of the day. Time is money, as the saying goes, but it can also cost a great deal if you are not using it wisely. The stress you suffer puts a lot of wear and tear on your body and can lead to health problems if you are not careful.

In the current economy, adding money-related stress to the mix can be the difference between someone who can breeze through the day making the most of every task, and someone who feels like they are carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders.

It is only natural to want to tackle everything on your to do list in order to do a good job and move up the ladder in your career. However, some people do not meet their deadlines consistently. Others meet them, but with only moments to spare.

If you are working as a freelancer, you have probably discovered by now that time is money. On the one hand, you need to keep the cash flowing in. On the other hand, you seem to never have a moment to yourself.

One of the secrets to successful time management is to set realistic deadlines and benchmarks or goals for larger projects. Goals that are too easy or too difficult might cause you to lose motivation. Deadlines that are too tight will cause you a lot of stress, and also make you produce work that is less than your best.

If a client wants a project in 2 days when it will normally take you 5, be honest about it and negotiate. They will have to pay more for a rush job, and/or they will also have to understand that the quality will not be as high as it would usually be because you will not have time to check things over as thoroughly.

If you can’t say no to your boss, promise that you will do your best, and then clear the decks. Pay attention to anything urgent that might crop up in the next 2 days, and once they are taken care of, start working on the project. You don’t want to miss the new project deadline, it is true, but you also do not want to be late on three other projects that you were just putting the finishing touches to for the sake of one.

Once you analyze different tasks and the time frame in which they need to be completed, estimate realistically how much time it will take to finish them, and then double your estimate in order to give yourself a comfortable cushion in case unexpected things arise.

Then block out time for these tasks on your calendar and be sure to check it and your to do list often to make sure you are target to meet your deadlines. If you are not, then pare down any other tasks you are doing until the project is complete. Then clear the decks as best you can with other high-priority tasks before you tackle your next large project with a set deadline.

FURTHER READING:

Transforming Stress Into Success: How to Minimize Stress and Maximize Success in Today’s Economy”

How to Manage Your Time Each Day: Essential Time Management Skills

How to Create an Organized and Productive Home Office

Are You Suffering from Money-Related Stress, or Depression?