Written by Todd Howgard

Hourglass

Scientists are hot on the tail of one of nature’s most elusive substances: the mysterious dark matter that is thought to make up 70% of the universe. Many scientists think dark matter might even be hiding right under our noses here on Earth. In fact, scientists don’t know what dark matter is. It doesn’t emit or reflect any light, so you can’t see it. One idea is that it flies right through the Earth, mountains, buildings, trees and your body without bouncing off atoms. Invisible, elusive, mysterious and uncontrollable.

Ever feel like your deadlines are elusive and out of control? Have you ever managed the perfect project? One where you've not missed one single deadline along the way? How about a project that went through its entire life cycle without having anything added or a needing to move timelines and tasks here and there? The concept of being able to deliver everything — on time on any given project is fairly fractional. Although larger projects may have more moving parts, smaller projects can be just as challenging. Staying exactly on track is almost never in the cards.

Here are five deadline-busting tips that won’t leave you helplessly in the dark, according to Jeffrey Ford, co-author of Deadline Busting.

Create and Maintain a Due List of All Deadlines

Write down any promised result, communication, product or service — even the things that don't have specific due dates but are due sometime. This shows you everything due to others.

Plan and Schedule Your Work

For each deadline on your due list, identify the action items (tasks, communications, research, etc.). Put these in order and estimate how long each will take. Then transfer this information to your schedule or calendar.

Negotiate Due Dates

Most deadlines are not set in stone, so propose alternatives if necessary. This gives you more control over when things are due, enables you to meet more of your deadlines and creates less stress.

Learn to Say No

Sometimes deadlines are utterly unworkable. When this happens, it's better to say no upfront than to accept the assignment, fail to do it and then make an excuse for why you couldn't get it done. People won't remember how good your excuse was, but they will remember you didn't do whatever you said you would do.

Ask for Help

Most of us do not like to admit we're having problems or that there is something we don't know or can't do. If you're crunched for time, ask other people to do specific things that will help you pick up the pace.

If you’re going to miss a deadline give as much notice as possible, make no excuses. Give them the earliest possible time that you can have the project ready, and meet that deadline. Although the universe may be mostly made up of dark matter, that doesn’t mean that your deadlines need to be too!

Here’s to that perfect project!

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