What To Do If You Don’t Have A Deadline
We are all used to pieces of work or projects being given to us with a very clear completion date and to some extent this gives us a plan in terms of designing and implementing priorities to get things done.
Nice and tidy.
What happens, though, when tasks are given to us without that end target date? Where do we draw our focus from? How will we drive ourselves, and our teams, towards getting this done?
There will be times when such work comes our way and we find that they just hang around on the edge of our desk, waiting for some purpose or impetus to bring them to life.
A similar set of circumstances arises when the work we have been given does not have a clear set of objectives, parameters, performance measures or it is unchallenging or unstimulating to get stuck into.
In these circumstances there will always be something else that grabs our attention first.
The task or project will not go away and it progressively gets put aside BUT it will spring to life, probably at a time when you least expect – or want – it to! It is also very likely that the person who gave you the task or project in the first place will ask for a progress report at a time when you have done nothing with it!
The following three approaches should help you to avoid such emergencies!
- Establish a deadline: setting this will give focus and structure especially if this involves doing some regular work on the task. Investing regular time on the subject puts you in the driving seat and nudges you along a completion timeline. This also helps you to see how its component parts are inter-related and how completion becomes more of a logical process.
- Publicise and share your timelines: by sharing this information with colleagues you will be inviting them to ask you, informally, how you are progressing with it. This is a good self-check mechanism that keeps your focus on the work and which will not allow your mind to be nudged into action should the task be overtaken in importance by other work. Accountability is a strong motivational force!
- Give yourself some simple rewards! This is very much up to you to fix but can include simple incentives like having lunch once a specific piece of work has been completed and recorded on your Plan. Small inducements like this add weight to getting chunks of work finished so that you can move onto other tasks.
Tasks that are non-deadline will always be a challenge in that they will inevitable be put off in favour of more demanding ones. This is a challenge as we all recognise that such open-ended tasks will become something with a deadline, probably a tight one!
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