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News article21 November 2022European Labour Authority, Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion

Struggling to deliver on time? Learn how to never miss another deadline again

Tight deadlines are a common challenge in the world of work. However, a project with a distant deadline can prove as much of a challenge to manage. Here are the best ways to handle your deadlines, both near and far, and work free from stress.

Struggling to deliver on time? Learn how to never miss another deadline again

Time blocking

Time blocking is a way to efficiently manage your day by simply structuring your tasks in chunks, instead of jumping between multiple tasks in the day. Blocking out your time is a simple and effective method for managing multiple projects and is an excellent way to prevent multitasking, one of the key enemies of productivity. Going between two or more tasks might feel like an effective way to deal with work as it comes in, but it will distract you and prevent efficient and focused work. Try blocking your time to eliminate multitasking and create a structured day that helps you concentrate and achieve your goal without distraction.

Setting realistic goals

When the workload proves too much, it is important to remind yourself that you are not a machine. You might require more time than originally planned, and that is okay. A realistic deadline is one that recognises and accounts for the reality that you will not be completely efficient while working. By simply blocking out more time than you need, you will feel less stressed about meeting the deadline. As an additional bonus, you will have more time to review your work and may even impress colleagues by delivering ahead of schedule!

Dealing with urgent requests

Even if you have blocked your time perfectly, you may still be met with an urgent request and no time to fit it in. When this happens, it is essential to inform your line manager. You can ask them to help to reorganise your task list to fit the urgent work in the place of other less important tasks. Clear communication about your capacity is key and will prevent anxiety of trying and failing to complete everything. If you are a manager, reach out to your team members and help them to reorganise their tasks or coordinate sharing the work among the rest of the team.

Negotiating deadlines

When given a task, it is natural to not want to disappoint, so you might accidentally agree to an unrealistic deadline. This might seem like an easy way to avoid the confrontation of saying “no”, but it can make the situation worse as renegotiating a new deadline takes up more time. If your deadline cannot be met, let your colleague know ahead of time that you will need an extension. The earlier they know, the more time they will have to adjust and the more understanding they will be.

Taking regular short breaks

After doing all the above, if you find yourself staring at the screen, unable to focus, or procrastinating, you may need a break. Even if you feel like what you are doing is too important to leave for a moment, you may be so stressed that you will not be working efficiently. Try getting up from your desk for five minutes, stepping outside for some fresh air, or getting a drink of water. Short breaks will help you to relax and not think about work, which ironically might be what you need to work better.

Working effectively with others involves various soft skills, including communication, time management and problem solving. While it might feel like these skills come naturally for some people, you can boost them in a number of simple ways. Check out this article to learn more.


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Strengthening your soft skills doesn’t need to be hard


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