Handling Multiple Deadlines
Recently I’ve been challenged with a lot of deadlines. It’s good for business, but at times can give even the most organized person a headache. Here are some tips I execute when there are a lot of projects on my plate. Not only have I found it helpful during busy times, but even following some of the steps on a daily basis can help you be more productive throughout the day.
- Make a List. All the projects that need your attention are swirling around in your head with no where to land. As a result your brain spins and you feel out of control. Making a list solidifies in your head the tasks and will help you prioritize which projects need attention first, and which ones can wait. If the deadlines allow it, try and tackle the big ones first so you feel more confident about them.
- Get Away! Once you made a list, step back. You are more than likely still feeling a bit overwhelmed. Getting away from work for 1/2 an hour can refresh your brain. I like doing simple things – going for walks, exercising, cleaning/chores, whatever.
- Brace Yourself. If the projects have tight deadlines, you are going to have to toughen up and put in the hours to get it done. I put a high value on my “free time” – weekends and anything after 5:00pm. However in this industry sometimes you have to do the OT.
- One At A Time. Every day make a list of projects you intend to work on and tasks to accomplish that day. If you end up doing some not on your list, write them down too. By having a visual guide in front of you the day will be much more streamlined and focused. As you accomplish each task cross it off.
- Reduce Email Check In. You may feel the need to keep your email open all day. Don’t! Check it only if you need something. It’s important to keep up correspondence, however an incoming off-topic message is only going to derail any progress.
- Communicate Effectively. Ineffective communication between yourself and who you are working with – project managers, clients, art directors, etc – is going to lead to wasted time. Make sure everyone is on the same page before diving into projects.
- Lastly, Say No. There are times that no matter the effort it’s not all going to get done. Sometimes you do need to say “no” and suggest hiring some external help or adjusting deadlines.