How many alarms do you have? Most of us receive alerts on everything from our phones to our wireless activity trackers. But no matter how many signals we have reminding us of pending deadlines, there are things we have to do to make sure we meet them. Here are a few.
1. Create a schedule.
In a perfect world it’d be the easiest thing to dive into a project right away with zero interference, but that’s not the way life works. What can you do to help you get down to business? Create a schedule of your daily activities to be more productive with your time. Start by jotting down deadline dates for your project(s) to determine your time frame for completion (1 week, 2 weeks, 1 month, etc.). Next, allocate that time frame into daily and weekly writing time. Factoring in your other responsibilities such as family, day job, household chores and so on, determine how much time you’ll dedicate to writing. Will you write for 3 hours 4 days per week, or 2 hours 5 days per week? Create a schedule that works for you to help reduce procrastination and facilitates your project’s completion.
2. Minimize distractions.
Set yourself up for success by minimizing or eliminating distractions that hinder your writing goals. If you work from home, create a home office or dedicated writing space, and ask family and friends not to disturb during your writing time. If being out of the house is the better option for you, find a local library or café where you can comfortably work. Additionally, disconnect from the Internet and turn off your phone’s notifications to get (and remain) in the ‘writing zone’.
3. Segment your project.
Break down your project into bite-size pieces to avoid becoming overwhelmed. Whether you’re writing an article, short story or full-length book, segment each task into manageable pieces and allocate time or task goals to encourage progression. It could be 4 days of researching for 3 hours, writing 200 words in an hour, completing half of a chapter in 1 week, or finishing an entire chapter in 2 weeks. Dividing your project into smaller pieces decreases stress and fosters steady advancement to meeting your deadline.
4. Seek assistance.
In today’s world many people take pride in do-it-yourself (DIY) methods for getting things done, but the reality is you can’t do it all on your own. Consider asking family members to help out with household responsibilities so you can focus on writing. You can even take it a step further and hire a local or virtual assistant to relieve you of tasks such as research, daily social media tasks, marketing efforts or other activities you need help with. The more time you have to spend writing, the faster you can complete your project and meet your deadline.
5. Build a team.
Build a team of supporters to journey with you to the finish line. As a writer may want or need an editor, cover designer, agent, and publicist. Surround yourself with a strong supportive unit that will bring out the best in your writing. People who understand your goals and are willing to give a helping hand will not only result in you meeting your deadline, but also presenting your best work.
6. Incorporate breaks.
No one can work for 24 hours a day. As such, incorporating breaks are necessary to feel refreshed and keep the creative juices flowing. If you think about it, how will you complete your writing project if you’re not ‘functioning’ at your best? Taking care of yourself is just as important meeting your deadline. Include in your schedule exercise, naps, and any other non-writing activities to help you feel rejuvenated. In addition, fuel your body with healthy meals, snacks and sufficient fluids to maintain your extended ‘work mode’.
7. Say “No”.
When working to meet a deadline, don’t volunteer or allow yourself to get tied up in commitments that’ll hinder the accomplishment of your goals. Learn to say “No” to activities that won’t fit into your schedule or will cause unnecessary stress. Keep your eyes on the prize and focus on your deadline.
8. Reward yourself.
As the saying goes “All work and no play makes you very dull.” Give yourself a pat on the back for steadily working towards meeting your goals. Whether it’s a walk around the park to stretch your legs after writing for 2 hours, indulging in your favorite ice cream on a 10 minute break, a fancy dinner or a night out with friends after hitting the ‘Submit’ button – reward yourself for a job well done. Small or large rewards keep you motivated in getting to the finish line.
Like death and taxes, deadlines are a certainty. The more prepared we are for them the less stressful they’ll be.
What challenges have you faced in meeting deadlines for your projects?
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