How to Meet Deadlines

Interesting Article by Smashing Magazine. Here's an excerpt:

What Causes A Deadline To Break?

Because a deadline marks the end of a project, everyone involved in the project must understand the deadline’s role. Most projects follow a schedule or have an estimated date by which they must be completed. The concept is simple then: when the work takes longer than expected, deadlines get missed.

A deadline is the end point of a time estimate, making it a known quantity. But how long will the work actually take to get done?

Of course, projects can be more complicated in their details. Unexpected technical problems and unanticipated changes will affect the amount of work required. Sometimes other tasks take priority. Sometimes the time estimate wasn’t considered carefully enough.

Whatever the cause, too much work needs to be done in the available time. That’s the problem, but not the challenge

Strategies For Preventing Deadline Crises

The beginning of a project is a great time to prevent problems later on.

The first solution is both obvious and difficult: do not take on a project that cannot be completed in the given time. Declining paid work requires discipline and confidence, but if the deadline is impossible, then the project may not be worth the money. Money cannot replace time.

Because deadlines with consequences are taken more seriously, keep a written list of definitive reasons why certain tasks must be completed by a given date. Losing money, customers and other assets create real incentives to work.

Schedule deadlines as specific tasks, not the ends of phases. Rather than “Content will be completed by 4 April 2010,” state “Review the content over lunch on 4 April 2010.” This ties the deadline to an event at which results must be shown. Mini-deadlines tied to specific events are more powerful than general statements.

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