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Coping With Deadlines

It's out there, an unspeakable force looming over your day. You can try to work, you can try to hide, but you'll never escape this power that strikes dread in the hearts of employees everywhere. There's no denying it. You're under deadline.

It seems like such a simple little thing, but it can really throw off your day. The most productive employees in the world find themselves under deadline and falter. The pressure of just knowing it's out there takes over from the part that would normally just relax and calmly accomplish the task.

Maybe it's the name - deadline. It certainly doesn't sound very friendly. After all, there are a lot of things that can be dead: a dead end, dead and buried, but none of them are really places that you'd want to be.

Deadlines are different though. Deadlines bring order to the job. They allow you to plan ahead, and judge how much time you should spend on each task. What's more, in the work world there's no way to avoid them, so for your own happiness and piece of mind, it's best to make friends with the deadline. After all, although it is sometimes hard to recognize it, the deadline is a valuable tool that can make your job a lot easier. To begin with, accept that every task has a deadline. Sometimes a project is so long-term or ongoing, the deadline isn't specifically stated. Additionally, some managers aren't as accomplished as others at assigning deadlines. Whatever the reason, even when it's not stated, the task does have a deadline.

When you're assigned a task and haven't been told what the deadline is, you're first job is to determine when it needs to be completed. Common sense will help you here. If it's the only task you have, then you should proceed as if it is due immediately or at least as quickly as you can complete it. On the other hand, if you have multiple projects, as is more often the case, then you'll need to prioritize. If you are at all uncertain as to which job needs to be completed first, always ask your supervisor.

If you have been given a completion time then prioritizing should be simpler, but there's still the deadline hanging over you every step of the way. If you are one of those people who is troubled by deadlines, and there are many, the first step is to forget about it. Just don't worry. It's only function from your perspective is helping you to prioritize. Once that's done, you just need to work to the best of your ability until the job is finished. Worrying that you won't be able to make the deadline, or working frantically, thus taking unnecessary steps or even making stupid mistakes will actually slow you down and make it more difficult to successfully complete the job on time. Relax and work smart. You'll be amazed at how much easier the job will be.

This is probably a good place to mention that you still have to respect the deadline. Don't let the thought of it paralyze you, but do remember that the job has to be completed on time - even if it's a time that you yourself have assigned to the project. Without that commitment to accomplishment, the deadline is a useless tool. What's worse, often in the work place, there are many other people counting on you. Others may need your work before they can proceed with their own. Similarly, if jobs aren't completed on time, it can be an embarrassment for your supervisor as well as your entire office. All of these people's reputations are effected by the work you do, and missed deadlines are as much a blight against them as they are yourself.

Often, people have trouble with deadlines because of procrastination. They put everything off until the last minute, and then find themselves overwhelmed by the job they have to do. You can help yourself through this by setting micro-deadlines for yourself. That is, establish steps along the way that you want to accomplish. This will help you gage whether the amount of time you're dedicating to the project is appropriate, and it will make the entire project seem less daunting. Remember, little steps are easier than big steps, so once you have your plan in place, don't think about the mountain. Focus instead on the next plateau.

Finally, don't be afraid to ask for help. Office's don't talk about team building for nothing. This is an important part of success for any business, so if you've been assigned an impossible deadline, and you're feeling overwhelmed, go to your supervisor or a coworker if they seem open to helping and see if there's some way to share the load.

Asking for help can be difficult. You don't want to give somebody the impression that you are incapable of doing your job, because as an AppleOne professional, you are not. A strategy like this may work. Go to your supervisor and explain what's going on. "Ms. Smith, I know you wanted me to finish XYZ project by Friday, but Mr. Jones also asked me to do ABC. I know how important it is that this be completed on time, but it's starting to look like I'll have trouble getting everything done. Would you like me to stay later to work on it, or is there somebody else who could give me a hand with a portion?"

Naturally, your supervisor will expect you to be able to carry your own weight in the office, but they aren't slave-drivers. With tasks seeming to come from all sides at once, your boss may not be aware of everything you have to do. Make sure they know what you need to succeed, and always try to exceed their expectations.

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From the very first time I went into an AppleOne office I was made to feel encouraged. Where the world was telling me times are difficult there are no jobs available now days. All I can say is when I'm sick I go to a doctor, and when I have a tooth ache I go to the dentist. So when I need a job why would I not go to a professional...that's why I went to AppleOne. An industry leader with a proven record of success in putting people to work as well as making their client happy.

- Melinda D. Ferguson -

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