How to meet deadlines (Part 2)

Last week, I posted about the importance of using future deadlines to help make decisions right now. Of course there’s more to meeting deadlines than just making decisions, so here is another idea to consider.

Try over-estimating the time required

When setting deadlines, especially when presenting timelines to impress your supervisor, it can be tempting to guess the fastest imaginable timescale. But research rarely runs perfectly smoothly, so if you’re trying to meet the shortest imaginable deadline then you have no margin for error.

Sometimes it’s better to go to the other extreme and ask yourself what’s the longest amount of time you might need? It’s only if you over-estimate the time required that you can actually beat (not just meet) the deadline you set.

Obviously this is no use if you then don’t do any work because there’s no pressure, but start with the assumption that the work is probably harder than you imagine, but possible if you put in the effort and start now.

By JuergenG, modified by Rainer Z - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,
By JuergenG, modified by Rainer ZOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

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