Working Wiggle Room into Your Deadlines

By Nina Kaufman, Esq.

Don’t ask me where the time has flown! My computer crashed on Friday the 7th, so my trusty tech support, ZEI Ltd., commandeered the machine for the day. Over the weekend, I celebrated my brother and sister-in-law’s wedding anniversary with them. Monday was filled with doctor’s appointments, and Tuesday and Wednesday disappeared in a haze of meetings and flurry of client work before I close my office for Jewish New Year, which I observed on Thursday and Friday. Today, Monday, I received an email asking when I’m planning to post my next item on the blog because, well, it’s been over a week, and I had committed to at least two posts a week.

I recount all of this not to impress you with how busy I am, or to gain sympathy for being duly chastised, but to share with you how important it is to build wiggle room into your deadlines. Anything can happen. My week was not filled with anything calamitous, but still, I missed a deadline. Small business owners have a lot to juggle in their business and, sometimes, the personal things creep in. Your parents have to be taken to the doctor. Your babysitter doesn’t show up. Your spouse/significant other needs your counsel regarding a difficult work situation. The computer crashes. The car crashes. You crash. All of these are reasons that the project is late, the document can’t get finished on time, the logo design is unfinished.

What are some of the things you can do to give yourself more leeway?

1.At the outset, build in more time to get the project completed. You may think you can have it finished within 1 week, but you might need more information from the client. Or the resources you need to get it finished (such as, say, information or materials from third parties) may take longer than you expected. Rather than commit to a nerve-wracking minimum, allow yourself the luxury of breathing room. Besides, if you can complete the project sooner, so much the better!

2.Keep communication open. This is where I fell down on the job. When I saw that I was getting backed up, I should have let people know beforehand. In most situations, clients are happy to give you more time; they’d rather be in the position of giving permission than having to follow up with you.

3.Get the ball rolling. Check your contracts to see exactly what you committed to do. It might be that providing a piece of the project is all that’s needed – not the entire thing in finished format. In my case, I didn’t need to have done all of my blog reading and research before writing a post – there are plenty of issues that come up that I could have written on without having to be a crazy perfectionist about it.

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