The impossible deadline…

Have you met the “I need it now!” client?  Invariably they will classify all their work as urgent and expect you to drop whatever you’re doing to sort out their stuff instantaneously – and interrupt you with 43 phone calls until it’s in their hands!

Now the weird thing is, these clients are potentially your most lucrative marketing tool – but they need careful managing to be converted into raving fans.  So what do you do when your client calls you with a 200 slide powerpoint presentation at 4:55pm that needs created for 8:45am?

  1. Clarify “urgent” – Sometimes a job is really urgent, other times the client will simply want it back ASAP but thinks that sticking “urgent” in front of it will get it back sooner.  Ask him what the actual deadline is and why he needs it for then.  It could be he’s building in review time for himself which might be able to be squeezed given a tight deadline.
  2. Be honest about what is physically possible – do not under any circumstances over promise and under deliver.  Your client will respect you more, and will probably stop classifying quite so many of their jobs as “urgent” if he knows he can rely on you to hit the deadline every single time.  If it suddenly looks like you won’t make the deadline, tell the client ASAP, don’t wait till it’s due!  Build in your own margin for error with the estimated delivery date you give the client – whatever happens, the date you give your client must remain set in stone for him to trust you with any other urgent work.
  3. Okay – so having established that we have a genuinely urgent deadline: clear the decks.  Reschedule your workload so that this urgent task is the absolute priority.  Yes that might mean cancelling a networking meeting or moving a task you usually do on Tuesdays to Thursday, but the most important thing is that you hit that deadline.  Switch off your email, your phone, tell everyone you are not to be disturbed.
  4. Start early, finish late.  Eastenders is just not that thrilling, and besides that’s what the omnibus is for.  You’ll be surprised how much more you get done just by starting one hour earlier in the morning or finishing one hour later in the evenings.  Right now, work gazumps family, friends, or housework.  (Mind you, I don’t often need an excuse to ditch the hoovering…)
  5. Lastly: done is better than perfect.  My very respected VA colleague Karri Flatla introduced me to this phrase and I just love it.  I don’t mean that you should hand in any old rubbish and expect your client to be thrilled, I mean that if agonising over what style of font to use is going to jeopardise the deadline, stick with an easy option and go back later to tweak stuff if necessary.  Having the meat of the project done means you can go back to perfect it later, but if you’ve spent all your time fiddling and not doing the work, your client will not be happy!
READ  What dropped off the bottom of your To Do List?

Do you have tips on hitting a deadline?  Do clients understand what is involved in the tasks they give you? COMMENT BELOW!

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