Breaking One Task Down Into Bite-Size PiecesThe lesson many of us never learn is that one large task can always be more easily accomplished in bite-size pieces over a long period of time. If you are given a project to complete in the next two weeks, the right time to get started is that very day. When you first receive a project, you should take out a calendar and find a way to break it into four or more evenly spaced parts. Don't just mark the final deadline date. Give yourself mini-deadline dates per segment and meet them, whatever the cost. Failing to meet one of your own mini-deadlines should be regarded as a failure to meet the final deadline.
Rewarding YourselfSome people, however, lack the self-discipline necessary to break one large task into several small ones. These people won't worry if they miss one of their own deadlines, procrastinating and pushing it back to the second, third and final deadlines. They will only panic as the last deadline approaches.
A simple way to reinforce meeting your own mini-deadlines is to reward yourself. If you completed the first phase of the project ahead of time, reward yourself with a night out, a nice dinner or a gift for yourself. If necessary, pencil these in under each mini-deadline. A variation of this would be to abstain from an addiction - such as candy, beer or cigarettes - until the mini-deadline is met, with no exceptions.
If you truly lack the self-discipline necessary to pull this off, you'll need a partner - kind of like an Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor - who oversees your day-to-day activities to make sure you never veer off course.
Plan AheadMeeting deadlines is a lot like playing a good game of Chess. Good chess players plan five to ten moves ahead. Bad chess players only concentrate on the current move. If you always focus on events several days down the road, you'll be better equipped to handle any potential crises that pop up. It also allows you to set aside a day or two before the final deadline to polish your project and add finishing touches. Don't just focus on today - focus on the whole week.
Get Organized - Technology is your FriendThis is the number one reason people fail to meet deadlines. They simply aren't organized. In this age of smartphones, tablets and cloud computing, there's simply no excuse to be disorganized. Simply entering events in your Google Calendar will sync it across all your mobile devices so you can keep aware of all current deadlines. Cloud-based calendars and documents can also be shared and edited by collaborators, which makes working with a team a breeze.
File documents neatly in your computer or cloud-based storage. People often waste time finding digital bits and pieces of their projects when they aren't organized, using "search" to desperately find the document they "swear was saved to the desktop". Good self-discipline is reflected in good organizational skills.