Got Deadline Drama?

DeadlineDeadlines are part of life. Here are three steps for surviving them and making them less of a hassle.

No matter what level you’ve reached in your career, you are probably always on some type of deadline – from a report or presentation that’s due on the horizon to completing required action items for an upcoming scheduled product launch. For executives in particular, deadlines extend to content development, such as a promised bylined article for a publication or a post for the company blog.

Are you the kind of person who dives in and gets things done even when deadlines are still rather far out? Or, do you procrastinate and put things off out of dread or because you’re just too busy and there’s only so many hours in the day?

For most of us, deadlines can create a lot of anxiety.

As a public relations professional, it seems I’m facing continual deadlines and I know my clients are, as well. Here are a few things you can do to help ease deadline stress while also presenting yourself and your company in the best possible light:

1. Don’t hesitate to delegate. When there’s simply too much on your plate, there’s no shame in seeking assistance – whether it’s from a co-worker or your PR/marketing team. For example, we are often asked by clients to assist with blog copy, bylined articles and even white papers. Such developed content is still based on your expertise and experience – we’re just helping you get your thoughts on paper (actually, on the computer screen).

2. Plan, plan and did I say plan? I’ve seen myriad projects become nightmares all because they were started too late. For larger initiatives such as a new product launch, I suggest creating a thorough plan and setting deadlines for key tasks such as media lists, key message development and content creation (such as website copy and press releases). Working from an action item list with a “must be done by” date for each task ensures nothing is forgotten and there’s sufficient time to do things right.

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3. Keep the deadline-setter in the loop. Sometimes, despite best efforts, things still fall through the cracks. But you should avoid the temptation to hide the fact that you’re falling behind (in fact, if you think you might be, refer immediately to the first tip above). In my world, this is especially true with regard to executive-authored articles. If an editor accepted your story idea, that means they are holding a spot in their publication or e-zine just for you. If you fail to submit your content on time, it can hurt your reputation with the editor, forcing them to scramble for a last-minute replacement. It is possible to ask for deadline extensions with some publications, but the key thing is that you ask while there’s still time for a “plan b” if the extension is refused.

Deadlines are the bane of most business professionals, but they’re also a necessary evil. They’re a way to ensure we get things done that absolutely have to happen by a specific time. By planning in advance and securing supplementary resources to help out, deadlines can become much less scary for everyone.

Are you a deadline procrastinator? If so, why?

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