Business Productivity

Stayin’ alive on deadline

- October 22, 2012 2 MIN READ

Imagine you have three significant deadlines at the same time. How do you get it all done? Here’s how I coped with prioritising tasks, thanks to some advice from the Flying Solo community.

Stressful deadlines can turn decent human beings into wolverines ready to gnash their teeth at anything that may stop them hitting the deadline.

I chose a career in publishing, so have witnessed normal people shape-shifting into a scowling hyena plenty of times.

And I confess – I’m not immune to such behaviour. In fact I recently had three major deadlines within a few days of each other that very nearly brought out my inner jackal. If it weren’t for the safety net thrown my way from Flying Solo members, I’d still be licking my wounds instead of riding the post deadline high.

“Likers” of the Flying Solo Facebook page may recall this post appearing a few weeks ago. That was me – seriously stumped at how I should prioritise my deadlines. Instinctively I called on the best network I knew for advice, and that’s exactly what I got. The three gems that I took on board were:

If you know you won’t meet one [deadline], let the client know as soon as you can – clients love honesty and dislike silence.” – Richard Jenner

After reading this I asked one stakeholder whether there was some flexibility on their given deadline, which there was. This freed up one whole day in which I was able to focus on the other projects.

Want more articles like this? Check out the time management tips section.

“Get some extra help and delegate!” – SpunkeBusiness

Delegating can be difficult if your ego (“If you want it done right, do it yourself!”) or lack of confidence (If I ask for help, am I a failure?) get in the way. Luckily, I had neither – and, as it turned out, a willing team member on one project was able to share some of the load.

“Do the project with the highest value.” – Mark Freidin. 

A typical measure of value for business owners is money; but value comes in other forms as well – personal fulfilment; the possibility of one project leading to a bigger and better one; the varying consequences if a deadline is missed.

With Mark’s words in mind, I lined up my three deadlines, ranked them in order of value to me and asked of each: if I missed this, how severe would the consequences be? It helped me put into perspective which deadlines needed my attention most.

So, a word of advice? When the going gets tough – try calling on the Flying Solo community for help. We’re only human, after all.

How do you handle multiple deadlines?