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How to stay on top of deadlines

As a designer, you often have clients needing designs urgently – whether for a last minute event, team function or simply for a change of date on a flyer. Tight deadlines can mean late nights and last minute adjustments to designs you may have already worked on a hundred times. It’s important not to buckle under the pressure and still deliver high quality work.

And what about those longer lead times? Sometimes you might be briefed on a project that’s not due for weeks – or even months – and it can be tempting to put the designs on the backburner because you feel the due date is far off. But be wary of this, as the deadlines could be upon you faster than you think.

The downsides to missing deadlines

If you want to run a professional business, or work diligently as an employee, it is vital that you never miss a deadline. Nothing screams unprofessionalism more strongly than not submitting your work in time.

If you don’t deliver on what is contractually agreed, you will end up with unhappy clients who won’t return for repeat business. This, in turn, leads to future revenue loss. And if you fail to deliver then you can’t expect your clients to pay you.

Ways to ensure you always meet your deadlines

Meeting your deadlines takes organisation and a dedication to productivity, but there really shouldn’t be any excuses for why you can’t meet them in time. Here are some tips to make sure you deliver on time, every time. 


Realistic estimates

When you draft up a quote for a client, ensure you give a realistic timeframe for the dates on which you will deliver. You need to specify exactly what the date will be, but ensure you indicate that these dates are dependent on the client’s feedback too. For example, specify that you need the client’s first round of feedback within two days of submission if they want to receive the final draft by the deadline.

Remember that it is much better to overestimate your timeframe and deliver early, as the client will be impressed, rather than underestimate and deliver late.

Communication, communication, communication

Communication is key when it comes to all team work, whether inside your business or with a client. Make sure you are on the ball in talking to your employees about what work you need from them and when, to ensure you have everything at hand to meet your deadline.

If you have an inkling there might be a setback in delivering your work on time, ensure you let the client know immediately. The sooner, the better, even if you’re not completely certain you will deliver late. If you still deliver on time, the client will be doubly impressed with the effort you made to submit.

Have checks in place

If you are working on designs late into the night, it can be easy to miss something important in your work. Make sure you always incorporate review and proofreading processes into your schedule to make time for another set of eyes to review your work before you present it to the client.

Back-up plans

Everything doesn’t always go to plan. Accidents happen; children get sick and you need to care for them; emergencies occur. There are hundreds of things that could cause you to miss your deadline. The only way to protect yourself from these instances is to have a back-up plan in place. Do you have someone you could brief to take over your work if you are unable to finish it? Do you have another business you can refer clients to if you are swamped with too many projects? Always have a back-up plan in place in case things don’t work out the way you planned.

The importance of a to-do list

One of the best ways to track projects is to keep a to-do list. Using software such as Streamtime is a great way to track what you do and how much time you spend on each task. This allows you to evaluate where you are spending your time and gives you a chance to adequately estimate how long certain tasks will take you to complete.

By creating a to-do list, you can draft out a plan for what you need to do and check off tasks as you go. This can be one of the best ways to stay organised when working on big projects.

Do you have any tips for meeting deadlines? Let us know in the comments below!


Original post written by David Allan-Petale

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