I was walking through Disney a few months ago with my hubby and #gaargoyles and if you’ve been to Disney at all recently you’ve noticed that half of it is under construction. It’s literally insane how many temporary walls they have up to hide the mess! And don’t even get me started on how long it now takes to get into MK….that place is crazy on a good day but with re-routing trams and entrances….oy. Keep me away from there until it’s done!
This particular day we were at Hollywood Studios (MGM for those that remember!) and this was before the big Star Wars opening so these construction walls were everywhere we went. But as we walked happily from Starbucks to Star Tours, I started noticing that quotes were posted throughout the walls from Mr. Walt Disney. So I would stop to read them. And take pictures of them. I knew I would circle back to some of them one day. I LOVE quotes!! Sometimes you flip right by them and they mean nothing but sometimes they get in your gut and pull out something spectacular.
This one was one that captured my attention. “Everyone Needs Deadlines.” Simple. No fluff. No quippy wording. Just to the point. And I could not agree more.
I have noticed in my own businesses that when I don’t set deadlines for my staff the expectations become unclear. I may have wanted that project done by tomorrow but they think I mean when they have time to fit it in. Or sometimes worse I don’t need it urgently but they drop way more important tasks to get it done because they thought I wanted it right away.
I have noticed it with myself. If I don’t have a deadline, I will push something off until I can’t stand to see it on my to-do list anymore! Especially the things I don’t really want to do (I’m looking at you taxes).
I have noticed it with my kids. If a project is assigned for school that may take several weeks we need to set mini-deadlines along the way so they don’t get to the night before and remind me they have a project (don’t tell me I’m the only one…come on mamas!!). They need deadlines along the way to help them stay on track.
The thing is EVERYONE needs deadlines to be successful. So here are 3 tips I use for setting deadlines to ensure the success of myself, my family and my teams!
Be Realistic. If I assign a project to a staff member, I often ask what their current schedule is like so I can see how much time they have to work this in. If they have a big event coming up but then a break I may set it for 2 weeks from now so they have time to put it off until after the event. With the same token, when setting a deadline for yourself, take into account your own schedule. If you make it too soon, you may fail at meeting it and frustrate yourself so really look at your available time and set a realistic deadline.
Communicate clearly. Ensure that everyone knows the full expectation of the completed project AND exactly when it’s due. For instance, “This ____ should be emailed to me directly by February 1st.” Leaving out details or not putting a clear due date on the project WILL leave room for unintentional failure. And that’s never a fun conversation to have!
Set mini-deadlines. If you have a big project that either will take several months or several people to be involved, break it up. Don’t allow so much time to go by that you forget about it altogether. I’ll put my mom hat on for this example! Hannah has to reach 24 AR points by the end of the 3rd quarter. She has 8 weeks to reach this goal. So we break it down (math lesson here too friends!) so that she knows she has to get at least 3 points per week to reach her goal! Even better, we show her that if she reads a 7 point book in the first week, she has built herself some cushion if she has a lot going on a different week during the quarter!
Deadlines help us to meet goals and to exceed expectations. If you aren’t already a deadline person, implement just one of these tips this week with your team or your family! I promise it will make a huge difference in your productivity!
I help creative business owners sustainably scale their business so they can create a thriving career and work-life balance.
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