Deadlines: 4 easy ways to never miss another one


(CBS MoneyWatch) Do you hate missing deadlines, but can't seem to get on top of your tasks? Here are 4 smart ways from organization and efficiency experts that will help you get the job done -- on time, every time:

Do a weekly review.
Each Friday, look ahead at any deadlines for the following week. "That will give you time to recover if you 'forgot' about one, or inquire on the urgency if you're jammed, and to make alternative plans if necessary," says Russell Bishop, author of Workarounds That Work.

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Visualize missing it.
Sure, thinking about success can help you achieve it. But with deadlines, imagining the fallout of missing them may also help motivate you. "If you visualize intensely the absolute horror that will ensue if you don't make the deadline, you'll be surprised at how instantly motivated you'll be to take action now," says Al Pittampelli, author of Read This Before Our Next Meeting.

Break the task into manageable parts.
Procrastination is a huge reason for missed deadlines, and people often delay starting projects that seem overwhelming. "I encourage people to determine their personal concentration threshold for a certain task and then break large projects into smaller parts -- for example, one or two hours," says Julie Morgenstern, author of Organizing from the Inside Out. You might schedule when you are going to do each step -- what Morgenstern calls a "Do Date," which can be more helpful to meeting deadlines than writing a "due" date.

Make an earlier deadline for yourself.
Perfectionism is a sister to procrastination, says Morgenstern: "When perfectionists leave something to the last minute, they have this unconscious excuse that says if it's not perfect it's because I didn't have the time." So move your deadline up superficially by a few days. Say you'll finish before you go to dinner with friends Thursday night, or before you leave for the day Friday, if something is due Monday. "That external edge really helps," says Morgenstern. Then if you do have work to finish up at the last minute, you're only fine-tuning, not hastily trying to complete the bulk of your project.

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