DR. E. CAROL WEBSTER’S
E. Carol Webster, Ph.D.
Original Copyright © 2006
Daunted by deadlines? Unable to get yourself together to complete your work on time? Don’t beat yourself up if this happens now and then. But, if you persistently fail to deliver, you need to give yourself a stern talking to and vow to fix this problem immediately. Employers and/or your customers count on you to do a job and if you really can’t cut it, you need to give serious thought to moving on. Before concluding that the situation is hopeless, though, put a high priority on learning how to stay focused so that you can produce the results expected of you — within the expected timelines — no matter where you go.
Clarify The Key Task At Hand
If you’re facing a deadline to finish a report, for example, clearly visualize the finished product. Focus only on this report even if your desk is piled with other projects so that you’re very clear about what needs to be done now. If multiple assignments are due on the same day, at the same time, pick one to start with and understand that you will have to hustle and get this one done early. It really is okay to finish tasks ahead of schedule. Focus in on the first project. Exactly what steps are necessary to complete this one task? Do you need to research more information? Do you already have a working outline? Or is it just time to sit down and write? Keep each of these steps central in your mind’s eye and get busy!
To meet deadlines, you must stay on task. Yes, you may be a person who can do many things at once, but this isn’t the time for that. Cut off the chime on your e-mail so that you’re not tempted to check messages for those you can respond to quickly. No matter how quick, your attention is diverted and the momentum you may have been building towards completing your key task is lost. Send phone messages to voice mail. This most definitely includes your cell phone, which should be turned off or silenced, unless you are required to answer all calls. In that case, let callers know that you are on deadline – because you are — and follow up with non-critical communications later.
Shut Your Door
If office protocol does not allow you to work with your door shut, close it slightly, post a sign or find some other way to signal that you are busy. If you work in a cubicle, definitely you must use some sort of visual prop that lets co-workers know you prefer not to be disturbed at this time. Casual drop-by visits from colleagues can be terribly disruptive to your focus – especially if you’re engaged in critical analytic or creative activities. When focused, you are likely to be pleasantly surprised by the quality and quantity of work you produce. There’s no time for socializing when a deadline looms.
Go To Lunch By Yourself
It’s not necessary to hold up in your office indefinitely and it’s good to take a break here and there to clear your head, but try to keep to yourself until your task is completed. The colleagues, friends or family members you typically meet for lunch are a great source of support, but they bring their own emotional baggage and you never know when, what and how much will be heaped upon you. People hear your words when you say “Yes, I’ll meet you for lunch but I have an important project to finish.” But typically their issues get dumped on you anyway and the mental and emotional energy you need to do your best work on your project is quickly drained. Avoid this risk by declining these invitations until your work is done. If you’re not comfortable lunching by yourself, you need to work on this.
Treat Yourself When The Task Is Completed
Whether you complete a big or small project on time, meeting a deadline equals success and you deserve to feel good about this. Treat yourself to something special for a “job well done” and don’t worry about whether anyone else gives you a pat on the back. Do it yourself!
There will always be deadlines, so get used to this. A mark of professional competency is being able to deliver. Take the steps necessary to stay focused and on task and you will be proud of yourself for the fine job you’ve done.
About the Author:
Dr. E. Carol Webster is a clinical psychologist consultant in Fort Lauderdale, FL.
She is author of the book for those dealing with the stress of success ―
Success Management: How to Get to the Top and Keep Your Sanity Once You Get There,
The Fear of Success: Stop It From Stopping You! ―
the book to help you overcome fears that may be holding you back in your life and career
The Private Practice of Clinical Psychology in: Voices of Historical & Contemporary Black American Pioneers
To contact Dr. Webster visit online at http://drcarolwebster.com or call 954.797.9766.
E. Carol Webster, Ph.D.
Clinical Psychology Consulting
Mailing Address: 7027 West Broward Boulevard, #262 Fort Lauderdale, FL 33317
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