Amy Rees Anderson

My BEST Tips for Meeting BIG Deadlines

Because I’m busy conducting the big board conference tonight I asked my daughter Ashley if she would write a blog post for tonight – Ashley’s been working hard to help me pull this conference together and when she sent her blog post over to me I thought, “If only I’d read her advice in this post yesterday I might have actually gotten some sleep last night!” She is definitely one wise little lady….(see guest post from Ashley Hill below):

Lately I’ve been tied up in multiple projects for both work and school with millions of moving parts. Tomorrow is the deadline for one of the larger 4-month projects I’ve been working on, and I can honestly say that I’m completely at peace. I’ve taken care of everything I know how to, ran through as many possible things I could think of that might go wrong, and double checked my list hundreds of times. I made a conscious choice early on that I’d only worry about what I can personally control. Because of that decision, tonight I feel calm and confident. If anything does go wrong, at least I put in my best effort and preparation. I’m able to be proud of the work I’ve done and know I did my best. At the end of the day, THAT is what’s important.

I thought I’d share a few of my personal tips on how to best prepare for big deadlines:

Begin with the end in mind: What is the biggest outcome you want to see happen? WHY? Knowing this will help you sift through what’s important and what can be put on the back-burner. Remember this throughout the preparation process to make sure everything you are doing will ultimately lead to your end goal.

Create a list/plan: What are all the tasks you need to complete to accomplish your end goal? List your action items in order of priority to ensure you complete the MOST important things first. Allocating specific times to work on each individual task will help you plan ahead. Create small deadlines to meet along the way. Breaking things down will make the bigger deadline not seem so bad. Write everything down so that you can physically check things off as you go. Not only does it help you feel like you’re making progress, but it also gives you peace of mind that things are taken care of.

Recruit help: Communicate any help you might need to others early on so they can plan accordingly. People want to help you succeed, so make sure you give them plenty of time to fulfill their part so you can both succeed. Another bonus is that when you have someone to hold you accountable you’ll be motivated to work harder.

WORK WORK WORK: This is the part where you grind. Try to stick to your schedule the best you can and meet the small deadlines you’ve set for yourself. If you need to push certain tasks to another day, don’t beat yourself up. Get back up tomorrow and push to make up for lost time. Try to get at least something in every day.

Final run through: Go through the grand task list you made in the beginning and run over it several times. Make one final checkmark in another color to be sure you remembered everything. Think of small things that could go wrong and prepare back-up plans.

Celebrate and sleep: Once you’ve done all you can, remember there’s nothing else you can do. If something goes wrong, so be it. You’ve prepared your best and will be ready for the task ahead. Be proud of what you accomplished. No stress = more sleep.

Preparing ahead is something that took me a matter of years to figure out, and even then I’m still working on it. If nothing else, set a goal to do just one thing to improve your preparation.  Like Paula Deen said, Change doesn’t happen overnight. It starts with the desire, then one small step in the right direction. As for me, I will be sleeping peacefully tonight! 🙂

~Ashley Anderson Hill, daughter of Amy Rees Anderson  (you can purchase a copy of my mom’s new book here: “What AWESOME Looks Like: How To Excel In Business & Life“)

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