Tuesday, June 29, 2010

How to Eliminate Deadline Stress

By KJ Hutchings

As a writer, I am familiar with deadline stress and even now after years in the profession, I still have to fight the temptation to clean out my desk drawer or sort through emails rather than begin work on an urgent assignment. Managing your workload is, of course, essential to avoiding unnecessary stress and procrastination, both of which need to be eliminated in order to manage our projects efficiently and effectively. When we are stressed we tend to work much more ineffectively and what we do produce can be more prone to errors, so follow my tips on avoiding deadline stress and watch your productivity flourish as a result.

Think about the start, not the end

Note down when you need to complete the project and estimate how much time you need to complete it. Be honest with yourself and perhaps err on the side of caution and give yourself an extra day here and there. Try to not think about the end result, but focus instead on what you have time to do right here and now.

Review regularly

It is best to review your project each day to assess your progress and also to deal with any problems or queries. If your work is for a client, don't hesitate to contact them with any questions. Unanswered queries or any areas of uncertainty will only raise your stress levels and hinder your productivity, so make sure you have all the details you need in order to do the job well.

Break it all down

It is a good idea to break your project down into bite-sized steps. This stops you feeling overwhelmed by the thought of writing a twenty-page report or ten thousand words of copy. Taking manageable steps will soon add up and you will be surprised as to how much you can accomplish.

Set a daily deadline

This leads on from breaking your project down into bite-sized steps. When you do this, make sure you set yourself a "mini-deadline" whereby you ensure that you complete certain areas of the project by set times. This gives you a set structure to your work and will help to minimise your stress.

Work out your priorities

It goes without saying that you wish to produce high quality work but if this goes hand-in-hand with missing deadlines, you are not only risking losing clients but you are also placing unnecessary stress on yourself. Are you fussing over small, rather insignificant details to the detriment of the project as a whole? Perfectionism is something that we all strive for, yet it is elusive - we all feel that our work could be better if only we had more time. So give yourself a break and strive instead to produce the best work you can in the time given but realise that perfectionism is usually the best friend of procrastination and therefore has no place in your work life! Focus instead on the most important areas of the project and give these the greater slice of your time. Then, if there is time left before the deadline is complete (and if you follow these guidelines, there should be) you can return to the more minor matters and tweak them until you are happy that they are completed.

KJ Hutchings is the founder of KJ Language Services, offering editing, writing and proofreading services and advice on how you can make your English language documents the very best they can be. For more information, visit http://www.kjlanguageservices.com/

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