Take the Stress Out of Deadlines

Deadline stress

Even the word is foreboding. Deadline. Break it down: Dead. Line. It conjures up all sorts of bad imagery—as though we're queuing up for our own demise. Is it any wonder we stress over deadlines?

How to Get Deadlines Under Control

Let's look first at the cause of deadline stress. It's being late. No one wants a project to run behind and risk missing the deadline. It means cramming more effort into less and less remaining time. It means people get upset. It causes people to lose sleep. It's just no fun.

The key is to a follow a simple three-step formula. It may take a little time to get used to, but stick with it. Develop it as part of your daily practice and you'll take a lot of stress out of your life.

Three Simple Steps to Getting Any Project Done on Time

Here are the three steps the world's most successful people use to complete a project of any size on time.

  1. Identify the biggest, most important tasks first. Begin by breaking each of them into smaller tasks. Do this until each task can be accomplished in no more than two days. Break up big, vague tasks like "update the website" into a larger number of more specific tasks. This will enable you to estimate, with much greater accuracy, the time you need to complete the entire project.
  2. Assign tasks and chart the schedule. Make a Gantt chart—a table showing each task, the person who will do it, the start date and how long it will take. Be realistic about the work load of each person. Spread the tasks out so that a new one doesn't begin until the previous one is complete. If the work of one person has to be complete before a task performed by someone else can start, build this in, too. Be sure to take holidays and weekends into account. Project chart
  3. Estimate the completion date and monitor progress. The end date of your last task tells you when your project will be complete. Update your chart with the actual dates of completion for each task as the project progresses. This will tell you, at a glance, whether your project is on schedule. If it's not, you will know precisely how far it is behind so you can make better management decisions.

SmartDraw Reduces the Stress of Planning and Managing Projects

SmartDraw simplifies the process of managing any project. Creating a visual project plan is faster and far more effective than using a spreadsheet, text editor, or pen and paper. And it doesn't require the steep learning curve of many project management software programs. It's easy to edit and share, too.

SmartDraw will automatically convert your task outline into a Gantt or project chart with one click. You can also connect your plan to a Trello board so your team can have a easy "to-do" list to follow and act on.

SmartDraw makes diagramming easy