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Staying Ahead of the Game

Sometimes there's nothing more daunting than a deadline. As the final date gets closer, your days get longer as you try to get everything done on time. But with a few simple steps, you can countdown to D-Day and keep your cool.

Get a clear picture. What exactly do you have turn in by the deadline? A lot of time is saved when you know beforehand what the final product should be. This may require tracking down everyone who needs to approve the project, but it will give you a detailed goal to work toward.

Why does this project matter? It's not enough to know that you have to do something by a certain date. You also need to know what the importance is so you can motivate yourself to meet the deadline. Imagine what will happen when you do accomplish this task. Think about how pleased your boss will be and promise yourself a reward.

Prioritize.

Look at your deadline and ask yourself the following:

• Does this project require your immediate attention?

• Are there any immediate benefits associated with it?

• Is it valuable?

If this project is your top priority, treat it as such. Shut out distractions, this includes silencing your phone and shutting your door. Put your other projects on hold and don't attend meetings unless you have to.

Break it down.

To avoid getting overwhelmed write down the steps you need to take to complete this project. It may also be helpful to work backward. Pull up your calendar and mark your deadline. Next, consult with each person who will have a part in the project to determine when you can expect to have all the pieces you need and set yourself interim deadlines accordingly. Writing down project tasks and keeping lists neatly filed in an 879 Premium Single-Touch Locking Round Ring View Binder with View-Tab dividers can help visualize your time and stay focused.

Discipline and willpower.

You need both to successfully meet deadlines. Try to develop a schedule that leaves room for unexpected obstacles, and clarify whether you're facing an actual deadline or a target date.

• When you miss a deadline, you are past the point of no return and the consequences could be serious. Your hard work will be for nothing if the project gets scrapped for being late.

• When you miss a target date there may be consequences, but the job can still get done on time, and adjustments can be made so that it will be.

So, what can you do when you know you won’t be able to meet a deadline or target date? You can try to negotiate a new date. If that doesn’t work give the original date your best shot. The more organized you are, the less stressed you will be and the more efficiently you will work. You might surprise yourself and get it done on time. Plus, if you maintain good relations with others in your office they will help you when the crunch comes. IT people who are overloaded will find the hour to stop by your desk and troubleshoot a problem. A colleague will stay late with you to finish that report. They will want you to succeed.

 
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