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1. Agree on specific deadlines!
Never agree to an impossible deadline to please someone. Otherwise, over the long haul this will do more harm than good: You will not only lose your supervisor trust, but you will also be stuck with a assignment that will bring nothing but irritation and problems, right from start.
2. Put it in writing!
Always record your commitments and deadlines in writing. It will help to counteract your forgetfulness. Enter deadlines into your planner (Daily plan, Audit program). Also record small, apparently insignificant commitments in writing. For instance, if you have scheduled an appointment with an auditee, send out an e-mail or an invitation via Outlook. This ensures that both parties clearly know when the meeting was supposed to take place.
3. Identify the purpose!
When you agree to a deadline, describe in detail what is to accomplished, completed by this deadline. The expectations on both sides need to be crystal clear, otherwise this can result in unpleasant misunderstandings down the road. If you have to work on multiple tasks, you need to prioritize. But that is only possible if you know what the purpose of the work is, what is most important for the company.
4. Be efficient and to be effective!
It is crucial to distinguish between effectiveness and efficiency. If you are effective you are doing the right things. If you are efficient you are doing the things right. In other words, effectiveness is the goal and efficiency addresses the way! Effectiveness asks the “what” and efficiency asks the ‘how’.
5. Keep others informed
Tell your co-worker and supervisor about your commitments and also the deadlines for the milestones. This will help you to define goals. It serves as an additional motivating element and will help you to stick with the milestone deadlines.
6. Get help early!
When things get sticky you should consider: what activities do I have to take care of myself, what can I delegate or outsource? Who can help me right now: co-workers, supervisor, manager? By the way: When things get tight, avoid multi-tasking. This will only waste more time. Always start with the unpleasant tasks first.
7. The worst case scenario: you cannot meet the deadline!
Inform all those involved as soon as it becomes apparent that you cannot meet the deadline. Once the cat it out of the bag, and you will miss the deadline, you must inform in a timely manner and present alternatives: this will not necessarily always result in a schedule delay. You can always propose to reduce the deliverable scope to those involved and meet the deadline that way. The key is to inform early in the process and to give those involved the option to decide about the alternatives. This way you can at least prevent the situation from getting worse.