The wilier amongst you will no doubt infer the irony when I tell you that I’m writing this blog a whole working day past its deadline. And the even wilier still will realise that I chose to use the words ‘working day’ so as to mitigate the severity of its lateness (yes, I’d made a promise to have this blog submitted by Friday, and it’s now Monday that I’m writing it).
And of course the wiliest of all will have read my post last week on this very blog – ‘3 New Year’s Marketing Solutions To Start Right NOW!’ – and will realise that I’ve already broken my first resolution. Gosh. Don’t I feel like a hypocrite. Here I am tapping out another lecture on marketing best practices, and yet I can’t even take my own advice.
Well, rather than repeating my mother (and numerous school teachers) and telling you to ‘do as I say and not as I do’, I’ve decided that I should really come clean and talk about deadlines, what happens when you miss them, and the real reasons why I’m writing this post.
I Really Should Know Better
It’s taken me a few years, but I’ve managed to build up a very strong online reputation in the business and tech spheres, mostly by writing blogs such as the one that you are reading right now. I’ve built up my own successful web content business from scratch, and I have to say, I haven’t done it by missing deadlines – such a thing can tarnish a writer’s reputation very quickly.
However, from time to time, it happens. We don’t mean it to happen, but it does – and, either way, there’s no excuse for it. Now, I write content for other websites besides my own. And the various webmasters that I write for have their own schedules, their own marketing strategies, and their own deadlines to meet every single day, just like the rest of us. And so, when I slip up and miss a deadline, it’s not me personally that gets affected, but rather my paying clients, their schedules, their strategies and their deadlines. And so I say again – it is absolutely unacceptable that I should miss deadlines for my clients.
Sometimes it happens, however, as I have pointed out. And that is the reason why I wanted to write this blog this week. Because it shouldn’t happen. And it shouldn’t happen whether you’re like me and have got lots and lots of clients who are counting on you, or whether you’re the chief marketer for the business you work for, or whether you’re an entrepreneur still going it alone.
Deadlines matter. They’re set for a reason – even if you set them yourself. There’s no point, for instance, only getting around to writing and publishing your Christmas material on Christmas Eve – that’s too late!! You’ve missed the sleigh by this point.
But, even throughout the non-eventful year, you still can’t miss those deadlines. You can’t. Why? Because as soon as you miss one, you’ve put yourself behind schedule. And one deadline very easily becomes two, becomes three, four, five, ten. Before you know it you’ve got a backlog the size of a short novel to write, and there’s no escaping it.
And what comes next? That’s right, pressure.
Now, a lot of creatives – myself included – thrive off a bit of pressure. But the pressure of a deadline is nothing like the pressure of missing a deadline. Once the deadline has been and gone and you still haven’t delivered, the pressure all of a sudden becomes over-bearing, and the longer you leave it catch up, the heavier it weighs upon you.
I hate this sort of pressure. And the reason is simple – it’s self-inflicted.
As I say, I’ve built up my own successful business providing content for websites all over the world. And I’ve done it by focussing on content, first and foremost. This is why, incidentally, I’m confessing that I sometimes let a deadline slip from me. I have always felt in all of my writing that being honest is the key to everything. I know I’m not alone in missing deadlines, and I think that the only way to try and rectify this is to share my thoughts with you, tell you what I intend to do about it, and hopefully get a few tips from some of you guys out there about how I may continue to improve my time-keeping.
Top Tips For Keeping To Deadlines
Ok, enough of the confession – let’s now sit down and think about what we’re going to do to never miss a deadline again.
Now, there is no magic formula, unfortunately. All the work that we set for ourselves still has to be done. So, if you’re expecting a panacea, then you’re going to have look elsewhere for it (though do please pass it on if you find it). Instead, I’m going to list what I wholeheartedly intend to do heretofore, and I actively encourage each and every one of you to add to my list at the end.
Establish Deadline In Content Calendar
Do you know, I never even used to have a content calendar – I used to just try and keep everything in my head. This is NOT a good idea. Get the deadline written down, and promise yourself that you are going to publish on that date whether it’s perfect or not.
Write A List Of Priorities
Prioritising is an essential skill that all people in marketing and in business should have up their sleeves. One blog post will not be the only deadline that you have looming over you – there will be emails, replies, social engagement etc. that is al part and parcel of the marketers job. At the start of each week, you should prioritise the week’s work, and make tweaks to this list at the start of every day.
Don’t Take On Too Much!!
My goodness, I can’t reiterate this enough. You’ve only got one pair of hands, one brain, and one life. You cannot do everything. I’m the sort of person who likes to try and help people as much as I can, and so I end up getting involved in some of my colleagues’ work, which in the end just piles the pressure of the deadlines onto mine. Instead, from hereon in I’m going to make sure that I value my time as my own. What I have time to do, and what I have time to do well are two entirely different things. So, I want more time to do things well, which means that my colleagues are going to have to write a similar list as this one, too!!
Don’t Be Afraid To Delegate
I could delegate more – could you? I’m actually lucky enough to work as part of a team – but I don’t always utilise this as much as I should. Having passion to do as much as you can is a good thing – but it does sometimes mean that the best work isn’t always being produced in the most time-effective manner. If I delegated a little more, then I could be sure that there was always enough time to work on projects, and that the best people were always doing them. It wouldn’t just be deadlines that were improved, but overall quality as well.
Work During Your Most Productive Hours
Writing blogs is the most important part of my job – indeed that’s the saleable, profitable part. But, there’s also a lot of correspondence to deal with, a lot of liaising with clients, emails to write, social sharing to be done etc. etc. etc. Blogging is the most tasking of all these endeavours, and I need to be in the zone when doing it. MY most productive hours for writing are between 10am and 2pm every day. When I write outside of those times, I’m more easily distracted and don’t have my full focus, and the whole process generally takes a lot longer. So, figure out when you’re most productive, and ring-fence those hours to dedicate to your craft. Your whole day should go a lot smoother and you should get more done.
What tips do you have for our readers who are tired of missing their deadlines? Let us know in the comments below.