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Career Monday: Modern Rules for Dealing with Deadlines at Work

Most job interviews include questions about how you handle deadlines. From law offices to government contractors, employers depend on you to manage your time and help your team meet its goals.

However, it’s often difficult to coordinate complex projects, and the increase in remote work adds new twists.

Knowing how to organize your tasks and stay on track will help you to prevent conflicts and enjoy greater job satisfaction. You’ll also become a more accomplished and valuable employee.

Try these strategies for dealing effectively with deadlines.

Organizing Tips for Meeting Deadlines:

1. Write a list. A to do list helps you to see the big picture and structure your day. You also free up your mental capacity because you have something to refer to rather than trying to memorize each detail.

2. Set priorities. Rank your tasks according to their importance and urgency. Figure out what you need to do now and what you can put off until later.

3. Break things down. Translate your goals into concrete actions. Focus on taking a first step and accomplishing something each day.

4. Budget your time. Most people tend to underestimate how long it really takes to complete specific tasks. Create realistic targets and build some leeway into your schedule.

5. Overcome procrastination. Perfectionism, anxiety, and vague goals are three common reasons for putting things off. Figure out why you procrastinate and adopt habits that will encourage you to take action and persevere.

6. Limit distractions. How much time do you spend checking social media or talking about your weekend plans? Set time limits on your breaks. Turn off notifications and remove time wasting apps from your phone.

7. Automate routine tasks. Look for ways to work more efficiently. Research the latest AI solutions in your field. Ask your IT department for suggestions on how to streamline your procedures.

Communication Tips for Meeting Deadlines:

1. Consult your boss. Align your priorities with your boss’s vision. Touch base regularly and ask for feedback.

2. Provide updates. Participate in department meetings and share information. Let others know what you’re working on and notify them about developments that could impact their plans. They’ll be more likely to do the same for you.

3. Use technology. Zoom calls and project management tools make it easier to collaborate with team members at remote sites. Practice using new platforms. Check that your online messages sound friendly and clear.

4. Ask for help. Let your boss and coworkers know when you need assistance. You’ll make a more positive impression when you notify them about issues while there’s still time to correct them.

What to Do If You Miss a Deadline:

1. Stay calm. It’s easier to resolve any setback if you manage your emotions and make rational decisions. Take a deep breath. Talk the situation over with someone you trust.

2. Take responsibility. Acknowledge the missed deadline as soon as possible. Hold yourself accountable for your actions. Apologize to other stakeholders if the situation calls for it.

3. Propose solutions. Focus on what you can do now. Try to come up with multiple options for minimizing the unwanted consequences and moving forward again.

4. Evaluate your situation. Learn from your experience. Did you miss the deadline because of your own conduct or external events beyond your control? Assess the things you did well and the things you would want to change, so you’ll be better prepared next time.

Deadlines can be motivating as long as you manage them effectively. Meeting and exceeding expectations enhances your productivity and professional reputation. You’ll also make your job less stressful as you clarify your priorities and work together as a team.

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