Working at an agency can be hectic. Inevitably, you will have tight deadlines.
Despite the pressures to get the job done quickly, it’s important to do it right the first time too.
Here are my top 10 tips for meeting impossible deadlines:
1. Get the right input. Whether you get the assignment directly from the client or from a co-worker, be sure to get all the details. Often, the person giving you the information will be in a hurry and may miss some important points – such as the angle of the news release, the focus of the direct mail piece or the audience of the marketing e-mail.
2. Compare to previous, already approved pieces. Since I’m still fairly new to B2B, there are many terms I don’t understand or “rules” that I don’t know. Check out items that have already been sent to the client to proofread for small details – such as whether a product name is italicized or if all web addresses are in bold.
3. Revise, cut, proofread and repeat. You’re delusional if you think everything is perfect on the first draft. It never is…
4. Under promise and over deliver. Don’t agree to meet a deadline that you don’t think you’ll be able to meet, especially if that means the work might not be of the best quality. Rushed projects often result in errors that would have otherwise been caught.
5. Have an outsider take a look. Sometimes we know too much about a project and that affects our judgement. I often ask our secretary or a friend to take a look at what I’ve written. They can point out holes in the writing or design of a piece because their point of view isn’t clouded by knowledge of the client or project.
6. Save your previous drafts. Save changes in a new document. Sometimes people will say, “I think I liked it how you had it in the second version.” It works best if you save by numbering your drafts in the file name so you can refer to previous versions if needed.
7. Work efficiently. Turn of the distractions (Facebook, cell phones, etc.) and flip your productivity switch – whether that means playing soft jazz or working from home (if your office allows it). I recently spent a morning working from home so I could rehearse a presentation without interruption. I was more productive than I’d been all week.
8. Don’t give in to “writer’s block.” The beauty of technology is that we have “Backspace.” Don’t waste your time waiting for inspiration. Just start writing. You can always click “Delete” if the words don’t come out correctly.
9. Problem-solve with others. Sometimes I go to Lindsay Allen, frustrated that I can’t find the perfect word or annoyed that copy isn’t flowing. We go back and forth with suggestions until we settle on a solution.
10. Delegate. If you know you won’t be able to do something, pass it on to someone else as soon as you can. Don’t hold onto the project, hoping that time will magically slow down. It won’t. If you pass it on early enough, the other person will be able to make the most of their time to get the job done right (now).
What tips would you offer to accurately and efficiently complete a task on a tight deadline?