Is it even possible to meet deadlines without losing sleep, living in your sweats, and only eating pizza rolls?
Uh, allegedly, it’s possible. I mean, that hasn’t really been MY experience but apparently other people have taken on huge projects and not devolved into weepy, sleep-deprived messes? Weird!
Since this is not my area of expertise, I brought in my girl Katie. She’s an author and daily life designer who can teach you how to get control of your time while still getting everything done. She’s currently leading a free training on how to break free from the cycle of busyness. If that interests you check out her Myths of Busy video series!
In two weeks you have to turn in the most in-depth report of your life. The presentation is set for Monday. Friday you’ll meet with the potential client to land your biggest account. It’s tax season, you’re on a tight deadline, in a launch. The hours are longer and the stakes are higher. This isn’t how you always work and thank goodness because it’s super stressful.
There are times in any job or business when your in deep and the pressure is on. It’s in these seasons of your work when you’re really tested. The test isn’t can you deliver? You know you can. The real test is can you handle the stress without everything falling apart or you getting sick in the end? Can you navigate the work along with your growing feelings of overwhelm as the deadline gets closer.
It’s possible to handle the stress of a looming deadline without making unhealthy choices or burning out.
8 Ways To Meet Deadlines Without Hating Your Life
1. IDENTIFY WHAT YOU TRULY HAVE TO DO
What is an absolute must during this stressful time and what can wait? Where can you cut corners to conserve time, energy, decision making fuel and mental bandwidth? Yes, you need to show up to work on time, but you probably don’t need to bring your coworkers doughnuts or finish up that report that isn’t due for awhile.
Take an honest look at what’s currently on your plate and make sure you’re saving everything that doesn’t move the needle on your current project, for later.
When your daily objectives are clear and aligned it can relieve internal busyness and overwhelm.
2. TAKE A TEMPORARY HIATUS FROM TRYING, COMMITMENTS, AND WORRYING
Push out fun commitments that are stressing you out. Take a break from trying so hard at your personal goals. And you can even take a pause on whatever you consistently worry about.
Worrying about the latest office drama, reading the newest self-help book, commenting on political Facebook posts, and going to happy hour with your friends who always want to have just one more, will be waiting for you when you come out from under this deadline.
3. GET YOUR DAILY LIFE IN ORDER
It’s hard to access your best ideas, remember important facts, be your most charming self or find the solution to your client’s problems when you’re tired, hungry or dehydrated. What’s going on in your everyday life directly impacts how you perform at work and how you feel about it.
Take 20 minutes to get your daily life in order and then sit back and let it support you during this high pressure time.
You’re an adult with access to the internet so I know you know the best ways to get a good nights sleep. Pick a few that you’re going to do this week even though you’re on deadline. Are you going to limit sugar and alcohol at night? Will you set an alarm to remind yourself to start getting ready for bed on time? Just do what it takes to get some sleep.
Plan to get a number of hours of sleep that can be divided by 90 minutes. Sleep cycles average 90 minutes so waking up at the end of a sleep cycle will help you be less groggy and feel more rested.
It’s easy and super tempting to eat crap when you’re stressed. Plan for those temptations and make it easy to eat in a way that keeps you energized. Buy and bring healthy snacks. Have healthy and satisfying dinners delivered. Pack a lunch that is so delicious you can’t wait to eat it.
Your brain needs to be hydrated in order to work properly, so guzzle that H20. If you need to set an alarm on your phone to remind you then do that. If you need to bring a gallon of water to work, go for it. Staying hydrated will help you make good decisions, stay focused, and keep your energy high. It’s just as effective as caffeine and lasts longer!
It’s always important to get regular exercise, but during a stressful time it’s even more important that you sleep, rest and take care of yourself. Instead of worrying about making it to your hot yoga class, just try to take a lap around the block or stand up and stretch often and keep your circulation pumping.
Walking is my favorite way to move, because not only does it get the blood flowing, but it’s also shakes up the stale energy you can get from sitting at your desk for too long.
4. DOUBLE CHECK YOUR REGULAR TASKS AND GET HELP
There’s nothing worse than being super busy and then realizing you forgot to send in your rent check or haven’t replied to an important email.
Take 10 minutes to pay your bills, and double check everything so you’re not worrying that something fell through the cracks when you should be focused on your work. Then delegate or hire someone temporarily to help you. Can someone walk your dog? Can you get healthy food delivered? Send your clothes away to laundered?
This could involve letting your mom, spouse, or best friend know you’ll be quiet for the next week or two, so you don’t have to fret over the perfect response to their invitations.
5. REMIND YOURSELF WHAT YOU’RE CAPABLE OF
Pushing your limits can bring up fear, doubts, and resistance. Doing something you’ve never done before can sometimes feel impossible. Instead of spiraling down, remind yourself how you’ve performed in the past.
Take a few minutes to mentally walk through times where you worked hard to meet a deadline. Remember instances where you handled the pressure with grace and moments in your life when you surprised your own expectations of yourself.
Wrack up the confidence to keep going by revisiting just how awesome you’ve been up until now. You can do this! The evidence is everywhere.
You can’t afford to be distracted right now. So do whatever you need to do to stay focused. Are your coworkers constantly disrupting you? Book a conference room for an hour, lock the door and close the blinds. Or better yet go work somewhere else.
Tempted to check Facebook? Delete the app from your phone and block your feed from your web browser. Put your headphones in and turn on your favorite ambient noise using Noisli.com. You’ll sink right into a focused state. Closing those extra tabs helps. 😉
Putting a few focus practices in place will drastically change how you interact with your current project.
7. EVALUATE AND ADJUST DAILY
It’s important to check in with yourself daily to tune into what you need so you don’t go too long suffering unnecessarily. Have one check-in time per day to ask yourself these two questions:
1. How’s everything going?
2. What do I need right now?
Some days you might need more sleep. Some days you might need to ask your boss if you can work from home so you can get more done without interruptions. Some days you might need to make a tough phone call, order in dinner or schedule a massage.
Your plan to get to this deadline in a healthy way requires that you are aware of what needs to happen for you and for your work to be successful.
8. POWER DOWN AND STEP AWAY
The fastest way to burnout is never shutting off. You’re serving no one by working day and night. Put your phone on silent, close your computer and rest. Give your brain a chance to absorb everything you’ve been working on. You’ll find that a walk through your neighborhood or date night with your partner is just what you needed to recharge and come up with new ideas.
If you struggle with this schedule it just like you would a meeting and set alerts to remind yourself to step away. Keeping fresh will help you keep focused and avoid burnout before you reach the end.
Take note! If you find yourself feeling this stressed out more often then not, then these 7 steps are not the cure. Foundational shifts need to be made both in how you approach your work and even the details of your position or business.
With these healthy practices in place you’re ready to rock this deadline with focus and ease. Get to it!
Thanks so much for sharing, Katie! Do you guys have any not-totally-obvious ways you navigate big projects and deadlines? Share your tips in the comments!