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How to finish a project on time

When you provide a product or service to a client, it can be easy to procrastinate. Whether it’s picking up the phone to discuss something difficult or the final editing before going to market, making the time can be a process. We all get busy. With our busyness, we don’t correctly break projects down and get them on our schedule appropriately. This causes us to over think and under plan.

According to an authority on procrastination, Tim Urban, “As a deadline looms with little or no work done, what Urban calls the Panic Monster awakens. The Instant Gratification Monkey, being scared of the Monster, runs away and hides, giving up control over the procrastinator's brain. The procrastinator pulls an all-nighter (two, in the case of Urban's senior thesis) and you get the job done in the nick of time.”

So after you promise to a deadline for your next project or service, utilize these tips to ensure you finish your project on time, and you aren’t under the spell of the “Instant Gratification Monkey” or the “Panic Monster.”

1. Put the deadline on the calendar-This may sound like an obvious step, yet you could write your timetable on a notepad or a note app and forget to transfer it to your daily calendar. This doesn’t have to be a paper version. However, it does have to be a version you’ll use. So if you use your apps more, or your digital calendar or the cat calendar hanging on your wall, write down your deadline so you’ll see it on a daily basis.

2. Break the deadline into small goals-If you have to turn in a draft the week before, add that to your calendar. Then continue backward breaking down the draft into smaller chunks of action. Those chunks should also be on your schedule. This allows you to focus on the pieces you absolutely need to finish and not overwhelming yourself with the whole project.

3. Create a distraction-free environment-Shut off your phone, turn off all computer notifications and if necessary change locations. If your office is full of people conversing and going about their day, but it distracts you to the point of confusion, ask to work someplace quiet. Often the public library has areas suited for quiet work and study. You may need to invest in a laptop if you a portable computer.

Consider asking to work from home. If you know, you can stay focused on your task and not want to throw a load of laundry in the wash, working from home may be an option. If you need a little background noise to get through instead of silence, a coffee shop may provide you with the right atmosphere.

4. Now take action-You’ve broken your project down into workable chunks, now get to work. You can set a timer for 15, 20 or 30 minutes and focus on your project and only your project during that time. No computer notifications, no phone notifications or calls, give yourself a distraction-free environment to produce your best work.

5. Get something down-You don’t have to produce your best work right away. If you know there might be changes, getting down some creative offering is better than putting it off so you can offer a perfect product. Drafts or mockups are better than having no ideas to provide. Often when you get your creative juices flowing, more ideas follow. You never know where those first major ideas will pop in as you are working through your project. But if you don’t start, you won’t finish.

6. Edit, Revise and Finalize-This is where your real genius comes in. You’ve turned in a draft or mockup, and you’ve invited edits and feedback. Now, it’s time to take the constructive ideas and make appropriate revisions to your work. This is where time is of the essence. You are so close to turning in a finalized project. Make your edits and get your revisions done to provide your project masterpiece.

Remember as a creative person, you’ll have a tendency to hold back on offering any work until it’s perfect. This perfectionism is what naturally leads to your initial procrastination. By planning, starting and giving yourself the most natural environment in which to work, you set yourself up for success. Clients will appreciate your attention to detail, and you’ll start to feel back in control of your deadlines.

If you have a marketing, branding or graphic design project in mind but don’t know where to start, let’s chat about it. It may be with the right professional help, your project becomes a reality faster than you thought it would. Fill out my contact form at to discuss your project or call 701-595-7300

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