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Tips for Finishing on Time

Tips for Finishing on Time

Now that we've considered some reasons why schedules fail and people procrastinate, let's examine five things you can do to maximize your chances of finishing on time and to the satisfaction of the key stakeholders, as well as to your own satisfaction.

Tip 1: Have a Say in Scheduling

Try to set the schedule yourself, or at least try to play an active role in setting the schedule. If you aren't invited to play an active role right away, try to position yourself to be included next time. Make it known that you're interested in doing some of the planning and that you take it seriously.

If you don't get involved in setting the schedule, ask questions about what assumptions underlie the plan. Push back when somebody sets an unreasonable deadline. Let everybody know about all the other projects you're handling, and ask your boss to help you set your priorities—possibly removing other tasks that might prevent you from reaching the deadline.

Tip 2: Manage Your Attitude Toward the Project

If you don't feel like you have a choice in doing the work, or if your self-esteem is otherwise threatened by the outcome of the project, you'll tend to procrastinate. Rethink your attitude toward the activity and try to position it in the context of your personal goals.

Most times, you don't have much choice in whether you take on a project at work. However, you chose your profession, and you have career goals. In many cases, you can ask to take on higher-value tasks—jobs that move you closer to your professional objectives. Most companies are happy to see that employees are interested in important projects, and your supervisor might encourage you to take on more responsibility. By viewing your day-to-day activities in the context of your career goals, you'll boost your feeling of choice.

Think carefully about whether you're motivated to perform the project with the prospect of success or with the fear of failure. If your mindset is mostly seeking gain, you're more likely to finish on time. When you fear failure, and you view failure as a reflection of your self-worth, you'll tend to put off the work.

Tip 3: Keep Stakeholders Informed During Project Execution

Because problems tend to crop up during the execution of a task, it's always good to keep all stakeholders informed. Maybe they have good ideas to help you out of a bind, or maybe they're willing to modify the schedule based on information you provide.

To ease the process of keeping people informed, it's always best to lay the groundwork for an ongoing dialogue. Spend a little time building a relationship with stakeholders. Avoid coming across as insincere; take a personal interest in their points of view and their needs.

Let stakeholders know about positive results as well. You don't want people to think you only come to them with bad news, and it always helps to keep your sponsors feeling warm and fuzzy.

Tip 4: Highlight Problems Early and Ask for Schedule Adjustments as Appropriate

More than just keeping stakeholders informed, let them know when problems come up that might prevent you from finishing on time. Explain the problem clearly and with some emotional distance. Avoid sounding like you're panicking.

Tip 5: Put a Bow on Your Work

Not only should you finish on time, but put the finishing touches on your work and package it nicely. When you complete something, it's no good to anybody else unless they can use it. Make it easy for them to understand what you've done and put it to use.



If you follow these five tips regularly, you'll get more things done on time—and more importantly, you'll feel good about working toward your deadlines.



[1] Max H. Bazerman, Ann E. Tenbrunsel, and Kimberly Wade-Benzoni, "Negotiating with Yourself and Losing: Making Decisions with Competing Internal Preferences." The Academy of Management Review (1998), Vol. 23, pp. 225–241.

[2] Eun Hee Seo, "The Relationship of Procrastination with a Mastery Goal Versus an Avoidance Goal." Social Behavior & Personality: An International Journal (2009), Vol. 37, No. 7, pp. 911–920.

[3] Eun Hee Seo, "Self-Efficacy as a Mediator in the Relationship Between Self-Oriented Perfectionism and Academic Procrastination." Social Behavior & Personality: An International Journal (2008), Vol. 36, No. 6, pp. 753–764.

[4] Ngoc H. Bui, "Effect of Evaluation Threat on Procrastination Behavior." The Journal of Social Psychology (2007), Vol. 147, No. 3, pp. 197–209.

[5] Edward L. Deci with Richard Flaste, Why We Do What We Do: Understanding Self-Motivation. Penguin Books, 1996.

[6] Joseph R. Ferrari, Ph.D., Still Procrastinating? The No-Regrets Guide to Getting It Done. Wiley, 2010.

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