Deadlines are often challenging, sometimes unrealistic, and can be highly stressful. This makes so many people try to push back on them. Deadlines can be especially troubling when you overestimate how much time you need to complete a task.
If you think a project is easy or you know how to do it, you’re likely to procrastinate or work more slowly. Then all of a sudden, you find yourself up against a deadline. However, if your deadlines are too short, you’ll feel stressed from the moment the deadline is set, no matter how hard you work.
To overcome deadline stress, you, therefore, need to try to get a more realistic sense of how much time is needed and plan accordingly. Here is a compilation of 5 most effective ways of overcoming deadline stress.
1. Overcome deadline stress through sleep
Not only does putting off a task until its deadline or having tight deadlines create stress, research has shown that it also kills brain cells. Therefore, getting the right amount of sleep and nutrition to boost your brain, really helps in overcoming deadline stress.
Before you propose or accept deadlines for important projects in the workplace, you should sleep over it. After a nap or a good night’s sleep, your mind will be clearer, and you will think more logically. As a result, you will set realistic deadlines.
Moreover, boost your brain by taking a good multivitamin and supplement with essential omega fatty acids and hydrate with lots of water.
2. Do time estimates of all key tasks.
Setting a deadline without logical thinking is a surefire way to fail. The more you know exactly how long it takes to do each of the components that make up tasks and assignments, the more accurate time estimates will be, and you’ll know whether you can meet a due date or how much extra time you might need.
When you set a deadline for a project, break it down into smaller tasks. This will help you create a list of subtasks required to complete the project. Ensure you allocate an estimated time for each task. A good tool you can use to create subtasks and allocate time per task is Asana.
How much time is needed to complete each subtask? Add together those with estimates for other projects you might have, and you will be able to determine how realistic a deadline might be and how long it will take to accomplish it.
3. Overcoming deadline stress by adding a Buffer
We set tight deadlines because we want to please people and because we overestimate ours and our colleagues’ abilities. But having a contingency plan is very important because more than once things don’t go according to plan. The best way to know how much of a buffer you need to add to a deadline is by observing past tasks’ time records.
To overcome deadline stress, try setting earlier task completion times like adding a day or two and then reward yourself for meeting those times. Adding a buffer is also useful because it helps to assume others will be late.
As a deadline setter, you should ask for items up to 2 days in advance. This provides a buffer time for lateness, potential follow-up, and delayed approvals.
4. Prioritize tasks and start working
Once you have a realistic deadline, know how much time you’ve allocated to your tasks or projects, and divide your project into subtasks, you need a plan to tackle them. If you don’t have a plan or if you procrastinate to start working, then, of course, that impending deadline is going to be stressful.
So prioritize your work by identifying which subtasks of your project are more urgent and important. Once you have prioritized your work, get a start now. You don’t have to complete the task immediately, but start. It will help you build momentum and overcome deadline stress. It also will let you identify what you are missing.
5. Negotiate a more realistic due date
If someone sets a deadline for you and it seems unreasonable or too tight, consider whether the deadline is flexible and if you can make a case for getting more time added. Getting more time for a project is much better than rushing through and providing substandard work.
So if the client or manager is flexible enough to push the deadline, then take the additional time and provide quality work. Deadlines are not usually set in stone so you can easily plead your case with a valid reason.
Missing deadlines can cost you career advancement, clients, and revenue whereas adhering to deadlines increases the respect others have for you. Moreover, setting realistic deadlines assures you a gratifying professional and personal life. It also helps in overcoming deadline stress.