Ah, deadlines. In the fast-paced agency world, they come around all too quickly. Sometimes, the pesky things even come around before we've actually finished the project. The science fiction writer Douglas Adams once said, "I love deadlines. I love the whooshing sound as they fly by." Ah, how I know that whooshing sound well.
However, listening to the whoosh won't put your in the good books with your boss. Luckily, these loveable cats have a few lessons to help you get on top of your project and stick to your deadline.
In the vein of our recent post about project management tips from cats, here are 10 tips for staying on top of deadlines at your agency, brought to you by cats:
1. Build Project Scope from The Beginning
Right from the beginning of a project, it helps if everyone in the team knows exactly what they are doing, and where their piece of the project fits in with everyone else – it's all very good handing in your graphic design work two days before the deadline if you didn't realise the development team needed two weeks to write the code!
Get everyone together and plan out a schedule for the project, so everyone on the team understands where they fit in.
2. Create a To-Do List
Make a list of all the different aspects of the project, and when you hope to complete them. Then, as you complete each task, sign it off! Creating small goals helps you to stay focused and feel as if you're moving forward.
You can create task lists within WorkflowMax to make tracking these individual tasks part of your workflow.
3. Create micro-deadlines
For each task on your to-do list, figure out when you need to have it completed in order to finish the whole job on the deadline. Creating these micro-deadlines will help you to stay focused on moving through your to-do list of tasks. For each deadline passed, celebrate with chocolate, or a quick break outside.
4. Track Time Accurately
Tracking time against your job will help everyone in your team to stay accountable. With WorkflowMax you can see how much time you've used as a percentage of the time allotted to the job – and you'll get notifications when your time is nearly used up. Try and beat your best times!
Recording times against tasks accurately helps your team recover costs and plan for future jobs.
5. Get a Team Member to Hold You Accountable
It's always easier to stay focused when you know someone is looking over your shoulder. So get a team member to check in with you regularly for a status update – you'll be finished in no time!
6. Reward Yourself
Human brains, like cat brains, work on a system of actions and rewards. Dangle a treat in front of yourself; if you complete the task on time, you get the treat. If not, the treat goes away.
7. Take a break
Sometimes when you're concentrating hard on pushing a project through on a tight deadline, your brain gets a little fried. If you're struggling to work, taking a break for five minutes, away from your computer, can help you recharge and refocus. Go outside and walk around, get some fresh air, and return invigorated and ready to kick butt.
8. Factor in Downtime
When planning how you're going to meet deadlines, don't forget to factor in days off or vacations already booked. What can seem like a month to do the work can quickly end up being a two-week deadline when you factor in vacations and other appointments.
9. Get a Jolt of Energy
When things are down to the wire, sometimes a jolt of caffeine or sugar will get you to the end of your deadline.
10. Just crack on and DO IT
What are you doing reading this article and looking at these cute pictures – you have a deadline to meet? GET OFF THE INTERNET and get on with it! Don't make me come over there!
How do you beat your deadlines?