Categories: How-To

How to Handle Tough Deadlines


Deadlines have become the order of the day in the present professional environment and almost all professionals have to deal with them in their daily work life. But when it comes to freelancing, deadlines are like a 24/7 element that keeps the freelancers on their toes and thus, also acts as a positive check. Freelancers live on deadlines and it is not something that is novel for them. They know how to deal with this deadly thing but these fearless souls do get perturbed when they have to handle tough deadlines. Tough deadlines arise when:

1. One commits without taking note of one’s skills and ability.

2. One is in a hurry and screws up the negotiation while setting the deadline.

3. One is in need of money and wants to take up the project at all costs, on the terms and conditions of the client.

4. One is handling multiple projects.

5. One is overconfident and has unrealistic expectations from oneself.

Such deadlines are not ordinary and come once in a blue moon but they do come to anyone and everyone. At such times, most of the freelancers feel like giving up which is not the correct thing to do in all probability. So, what is the way out? What should you do to stay clear of such tough situations? Well, you must know how to handle tough deadlines. This will not only keep you ahead of the curve but also get you good clients and good money. Tough situations test you and if you can handle them, your capacity, productivity and reputation; all get a quality hike. Pressure isn’t really a bad thing because it extracts out the best from an individual and makes them see their unseen merits and hidden potential. So, you must take tough deadlines positively and treat them as an opportunity or a challenge. If you treat them in such a manner, they will cease to be tough. Don’t think we are giving you the run-of-the-mill pep talk or preaching the usual sermons related to motivation and inspiration. What we are saying has got substance and if you want to test its effectiveness, go through these tips:

Motivate Yourself And Plan In Advance

Remember the golden law of Murphy “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” A tough deadline appears so because it has the ability to test your capacity and potential. So, the first thing that you must do is motivate yourself. Say to yourself that you can do it and start with a positive frame of mind and keep it like that till the assignment reaches its end. This is because tensions and worries invariably creep in when a tough deadline stares you in the face. If you don’t motivate yourself you can easily give in to the pressure and anyways you are the only one who has to do this as there is no boss or supervisor

Stay Organized

Doing things in an orderly fashion is a surefire way to complete work in time but many of us do not take it seriously because we are not aware of its benefits. Moreover, not everyone is willing to put in the discipline and dedication that is required to stay organized. However, organization becomes a must-have when you have to meet a tough deadline. It is difficult to find someone who has accomplished a tough deadline without staying organized.

Break the work into daily targets and act on priority basis

What would you do if you have to clean your messy home within a certain time period? Would you go the whole hog and clean it all up in a day? Not many of you would adopt this strategy. Most of you would start from the drawing-room and proceed to other corners in an orderly manner. This works well and is also the wise thing to do. So, when you have to meet a tough deadline, do it in a similar fashion. Divide the pie and complete it gradually.

Plan The Deadline Smartly

Well, when you negotiate and discuss with a client you get a fair idea about the nature of the deadline and it is not difficult to figure out if the deadline is tough or easy. So, if it falls in the latter category, you must act smart and buy enough time to handle the project without getting hassled in the eleventh hour. Many a time, freelancers do not resort to this tactic out of overconfidence and pride. Well, it is always advisable to under promise and over deliver and not vice versa.

Keep Your Network Or Friends Informed In Advance For Any Emergency Help

When things seem out of your control and you cannot handle it all by yourself, resort to your network or friends to get the task done. This is a step that is adopted by many and has been known to yield positive results. However, to utilize it, you must have a reliable network in the first place. You must also inform them in time because they might be busy or not available.

If Nothing Works, Inform the Client And Apologize

Though this should be avoided at all costs, we are all humans and it is perfectly normal to err. If you feel that time is running out and it is completely impossible to meet the deadline, go ahead and say sorry to your client and ask for more time. You might receive an unsavory reply or even a refusal but if this is the only alternative available, you cannot do anything. Who knows the client might grant you additional time and if it happens thank him profusely and get to work immediately without any delay.

Tough deadlines are something that all freelancers come across. Those who are dealing with multiple projects are more vulnerable to such a faceoff. The trick to staying away from these tough situations is to know your capacity and potential. Don’t promise something that you cannot deliver. Agreed, the competition and lure of money is itself a tough thing to handle. In most cases these are the factors that drive freelancers to such an extent where they have to deal with tough deadlines. But one must know one’s limits to avoid embarrassments and failures. Remember, it requires time and effort to build reputation in the freelancing world and a small mistake can ruin it beyond repair. Missing deadlines are the worst thing that can happen to a freelancer and hence, you must do all that you can to avoid it but if you get unlucky and have to handle a tough deadline, don’t despair. The tips prescribed above will certainly help you. Do resort to them and all will be well.

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