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Five Simple Steps to Stay on Deadline
by Rebecca Matthews

In the busy lives of any professional, full or part-time, it can seem overwhelming to get everything done in a single day, especially when deadlines are looming. Life gets chaotic; kids, husbands, wives need attention; and it seems as though the world is out to prevent you from working. Staying on deadline can be as daunting as trying to navigate a minefield, but it can be done. No more excuses! You too can get out that perfect piece and still make the T-ball game at 5:00 by following these five simple steps:

Don’t get sidetracked. Too many times we find ourselves sidetracked by the little things. Do the dishes and laundry, answer your emails and return phone calls before you get started. If you have little ones, consider an at home baby-sitter for one or two afternoons a week. Once you have a clean slate in front of you with no distractions or worries, you’ll get more done and be relaxed about it.

Set a time limit.  You know you have to get that article done. Set yourself a time limit – twenty minutes perhaps and use all twenty minutes. Get a timer, such as a kitchen timer, and set it for the whole amount of time you want to write. Don’t stop until the timer goes off. Don’t short yourself on time and feel free to go over. You will be amazed at how the words flow.

Keep track: Keep track of what you are doing. Make use of scheduling software to set up tasks and record deadlines. This can be as simple as setting up a spreadsheet to track your assignments, or as elaborate as purchasing tracking software and setting it up on your computer. This way you will know just when things are due without trying to keep it in your head, or worse, remember when you get the phone call from the editor telling you that you are late.

Don’t over commit: As great as it sounds hearing that Sam sent out fifty queries this month and has twenty-two assignments from the previous few months, be realistic in what you can do. If you are only able to find time to do three or four assignments for the month, don’t try and do ten. It is better to do less and do it well, than to miss deadlines and be known as unreliable.

Put in extra hours: No one likes to work overtime and finding extra time can be like trying to find a needle in a haystack: it just doesn’t seem to be there. Get creative. Set your alarm clock thirty minutes earlier. Skip your morning jog. Forget about watching late night and spend the hour typing up the first draft of your article. Print out a copy of your work and take it with you to your daughter’s T-ball game for quick editing.

Deadlines don’t have to be nerve-wracking or nail biting. Treat them with respect and you will stay on deadline, meet your deadline and be relaxed doing so. After all, isn’t the objective to gain some income with your writing? If you can’t meet deadlines, or be known as reliable, that means fewer jobs come your way and less money in your pocket.

© Copyright 2009, Rebecca Matthews

Rebecca Matthews is a freelance writer based in southern Idaho. Her work has appeared in such magazines as EQUUS and The Northwest Horse Source.  When she's not writing, you can find her out riding her horses.

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