Five ways to keep track of your deadlines
Datum: 2014-01-28 09:13
By now most of us have started working and for many people the fall will be filled with activities, tasks and deadlines all the way until summer.
When life gets hectic it is even more crucial to work on the right thing at the right time than when the tempo is slower. Time is short and many things need to be completed during the months to come. If we make sure we have enough foresight, we also enable ourselves to allocate our time across all the projects and tasks we are responsible for completing in a more balanced way.
For you who prefer listening to reading, this post is also available as an episode of the “Done!” podcast:
It is my guess that you also have a handful of deadlines to meet during the months ahead; deadlines which indicate when what you are responsible for needs to be completed, reported, submitted, delivered, done, or produced.
Get an overview
Clarify what deadlines you have to meet in the next while ahead in a way that provides you with an excellent overview of when what needs to be done, and when you will work on completing it until the due date arrives.
This way you will not have to wake up one morning and panic when you realize it was this Thursday you had to deliver something. Instead of getting a fright you will be able to plan your work I such a way that you get the most work done when it suits you the best in terms of both your schedule and your energy.
But, how and when can we get such an excellent overview of our deadlines?
Here are five examples:
- An annual calendar on the wall
- Purchase an annual calendar and highlight the deadlines-dates in an appropriate color.
- Hang it on the wall and make a plan of how you should schedule your work in order to finish on time.
- In a calendar like this the dates already have their own pre-printed squares and you will not have to spend time and energy on designing the layout of the calendar. On the other hand you have to live with the layout as it is instead of putting your own touch to the visual representation of your plan.
- A drawn timeline on a roll of paper
- Go to a well-assorted supply-store and purchase rolled up drawing-paper.
- Back at the office, roll out as many meters as you want to represent the entire year with and draw a timeline from now until the same time next year. Divide the line into months and mark out your deadlines with a highlighter.
- For the weeks reaching from now until the deadline you draw thin boxes which represent an hour of work every week and much thicker boxes when you wish to depict full-time engagement in the project. This way it will be easy to determine how much time you need to allocate to completing tasks with deadlines every week, and how much time you can afford spending on tasks which emerge ad hoc.
- Attach a stick to each end of the roll so that it is easy to roll up or roll out the timeline whenever you need to, or alternatively put the entire map on your wall, which will mean that there is no escaping getting reminded of it.
- An drawn annual wheel
- Draw the year as a wheel divided into twelve sections, one for each month. Highlight your deadlines in an appropriate color and create some kind of pointer or needle to indicate where you currently are on the wheel.
- A digital timeline-system
- Use a digital system to keep track of your deadlines, such as the open source-tool TimeFlow, where it is easy to get a visual overview of due-dates in calendar‑, diagram‑, or timeline-format without having to draw much yourself.
- Calendar-bookings in a digital calendar without set times
- Allow bookings in your digital calendar without set times to represent your deadlines.
- Include a tag in what you name the booking, for instance “[Deadline]” so that they stick out from all the other bookings. You can also create a separate category in a loud color which you categorize the deadline-booking with. This way they are clearly visible in the calendar’s monthly overview.
- If you keep your deadlines in your digital calendar they will always be with you regardless if you are using your computer, your phone or are online using some other device. But, depending on how your particular calendar-application is able to display the bookings in different windows or views, the possibility to get an excellent overview might vary.
Go through your overview once a week
Regardless what type of tool you choose to work with to easily get an overview of your upcoming deadlines, make sure to include going though it in your weekly run-through. You should hence skim through the overview at least once a week and remind yourself of when what needs to be completed, and thereafter book time in your calendar for working on these tasks or projects so that you are able to meet the deadline.
Be ahead rather than behind
If you create a clear overview of what your deadlines for the coming year are, you will feel much surer that you are doing the right thing at the right time since it will be much easier to make sure none of your commitments gets neglected (if you keep the overview up to date, that is). You will be able to work more pro-actively since you have more foresight and remind yourself more often of what deadlines you have and when they are due.
What is your way?
What does your deadline-overview look like? Tell me!
If you want more tips on how to create good structure at work, there are many ways to get that from me - in podcasts, videos, books, talks and other formats.