Not so deadly, more in line: Ways to deal with deadlines

They’re everywhere. There’s absolutely no escape from them. You first meet them at school, then you jump into essay submissions at uni and everything intensifies. Later, you go to work – and whether you’re a freelancer or employed in a company, you’ll certainly face them. Deadlines can be stressful and bring you to the edge – but we’re sharing our unflappable tips for that calm and collected mindset. Read on to discover our proven ways to deal with deadlines!

Some people are scared of deadlines – if you don’t plan well, they can descend into chaos quicker than you can imagine. Whether you set them for yourself, or if you’ve got someone else picking the due dates for you, there are methods that will allow you to deal with them painlessly. No stress whatsoever – we promise!

Don’t overschedule

There might be a lot of interesting opportunities – if we’re honest, they always pop up at once. You want to take them all on – but it won’t help you deliver them all on time. At the end of the day, you want to deliver outstanding work and learn in the process. If you grab everything that comes your way, it will be significantly more difficult to manage – so take your diary, be selective, and if all of these things with deadlines are total unmissables, negotiate realistic deadlines.

Don’t underestimate the time needed for the task

Although you might be a get-things-done ninja, it’s easy to underestimate the amount of time that a task will take – especially if you feel very familiar with it. To make sure you finish before the deadline, always add a quarter for every hour that your assignment should take.

Don’t wait until last minute

It’s easy, you think. It won’t take that much time. I’ve got a month ahead of me. I’ll have more time tomorrow. It’s easy to get into a trap of postponing – and when you find yourself days away from the deadline, you’ll put yourself into unnecessary stress that will thwart your workflow. You’ll feel much more motivated if you start working on the task straight away – so get on with it as soon as you receive the brief.

Put the deadline in your diary earlier

If you don’t trust yourself and firmly believe in your procrastination professionalism more than in your perfected productivity, you might need to trick yourself into thinking that your deadline is earlier than it actually is. This is especially true when it comes to these Monday morning deadlines. Nobody likes to work over the weekend, and let’s face it, there is many more distractions at that time – it’s hard to get things done when you know that your family and friends are having fun.

Break it down

Create logical processes to approach your tasks. Write down the steps you need to take, and try to estimate the amount of time you will need to complete every stage. Then, highlight the priorities and make sure to complete the bigger phases first – it might often feel tempting to push the small tasks ahead, but that doesn’t help! Keeping the huge goals ahead might actually make you stress more: you’ll panic with every minute that brings you close to the deadline.

It’s helpful to use an old trusty notebook, or a project management tool to do it. We’ve combined the list of our favourite productivity apps so that you can pick the tool that suits your style of working!

Prepare

Learn as much as you can about the task beforehand. Ask yourself if you need to secure any resources or tools that will be essential for completing it. Then, try to figure out if you’ll be able to get those easily – and if there is any alternative solution.

But it’s not just about the task knowledge. For the peace of mind, deal with all the administrative things that surround your life so that you can sit down to it with a clear conscience. Tidy your workspace, refill your pantry, have dinner ready in the fridge and buy oatmeal for the breakfast, pay all the bills, so that you’re not distracted by absolutely anything that’s not connected to your assignment.

Take breaks!

You don’t want to take a break. You must get it done… but how long will it be before you become discouraged and switch to YouTube to binge-watch that comedian you love? Nobody likes to sit down for 9 hours in a row without a moment for a break. Eat, have a coffee, stretch, go for a walk. It will help you refocus and approach your challenge with fresh eyes.

Don’t check the clock

Ever had that feeling when you checked the clock, then looked at it again and the hand hasn’t moved for more than five minutes? Or too much time has gone and you feel like you’re running out of time and you haven’t even done anything productive? Stop watching the clock; get rid of the watch, and put your phone away. Your panic button won’t be triggered until you focus on the passing time and its negative aspects, and it doesn’t really help you plan either!

Back up your work

Making a copy of your work as a key to a smooth sail towards the deadline? Certainly! Even thinking of this dark scenario, where all your work vanishes just before the deadline, is stressful. Don’t even imagine it happen for real and having to recreate your project under pressure and skipping over the quality. Make sure a copy of your document is saved in the cloud on or on a USB drive, and get into the habit of pressing CTRL and S every now and again.

M. K.

Inquisitive and cheeky guest writer. Music/books/fashion/current affairs. Made in Chelsea, but commuting.

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