Setting Early Internal Due Dates
One of the key goals of effective project management is reducing stress, confusion and last-minute races against the clock.
And one of the best habits for reducing stress is the simple practice of setting early due dates for your tasks. If you’ve got a hard deadline for a task — say for instance, a promised delivery of an initial design to a client — set the internal team deadline for the task earlier. So, if the design is promised on the 25th, set the due date on the 15th.
You get a couple of key advantages. First, you’ve got room for error and unplanned delays. If the initial design on the 15th needs an adjustment, you’ve got a window for that. Or if the 15th is missed due to an unforeseen delay, you’ve got a window for that too. The second advantage is that your process will often get more efficient because there’s less stress around due dates. For many workers, stress around hard deadlines can cause inefficient worrying and procrastination. Knowing that the deadline is simply an internal one can actually make the task easier to tackle and deliver on time.
Everyone on the team — including managers — also gets the benefit of regularly getting the positive feeling of being on track and ahead of schedule. Just don’t make the mistake of easily or regularly missing internal deadlines — the trick is to make a habit of respecting the internal deadlines.