Stop Missing Deadlines

by Sean Boyce

As a product manager, I’m very process oriented.  As a result, I’m borderline obsessed with efficiency.  If there is a way to save me time, I’m all over it.  Every product manager’s nightmare starts out with missed deadlines and only gets worse from there.  While you may not know much about my area of expertise (more on that here), you can stand to benefit from some of the tricks I use to improve productivity.  These productivity enhancers enable me to meet my deadlines – my clients businesses depend on it.  Incorporate some (or all) of these methods into your regular routine and I promise you will start to notice an improvement in your productivity immediately.

Shift Your Mindset

To start getting your work done consistently on time you first need to have the right mindset.  If we focus on everything at once the only guarantee is that nothing will get done.  Focus on your domain and the things that you can control.  Worrying about what might be or how things could possibly go wrong will only distract you from the achieving your immediate goals.  

A good example of the power of shifting your mindset is a famous book and exercise that I went through many years ago called StrengthsFinder.  The gist is instead of focusing on areas that need improvement, you focus on what you are best at and expand on that skill set.  I love the fresh perspective and have incorporated it into much of what I’ve done with great success.  

Plan Realistically

Life is full of surprises and our work lives are certainly no exception.  The vast majority of missed deadlines can likely be tied back to unrealistic planning.  In product management, planning is everything.  Product managers spend a great deal of time thoroughly planning as to avoid any possible hiccups in execution.  How do the best product managers become great at avoiding missed deadlines?  Realistic planning.  

Realistic planning can only be achieve if you are effectively setting realistic expectations.  Don’t plan to get your work done in the shortest amount of time possible.  Most of the time people think this is what everyone wants to hear.  As a product manager with over a decade of experience, I can say for certain that absolutely everyone would rather work be done properly than quickly.  Plan for the maximum amount of time you need and then some.  Stop being the person everyone expects to miss deadlines and start being the person that everyone looks to for advice because you are now the resident expert at planning.

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Shorten Your Week

A great way to ensure you stop missing deadlines is to shorten your week.  Instead of planning to end your week on Friday, plan to end it on Wednesday.  What I mean by this is – don’t start a new project at the end of your week.  Instead, plan to start something new at the beginning of the following week.  This shift will help alter your mindset for the better.  Go into the weekend feeling great about your accomplishments for the week.

Leverage Technology Whenever Possible

Stop using spreadsheets.  If you are responsible for deadlines then you need something that tracks your time.  In the product management world I’m a big fan of Asana.  Asana will help you manage projects and track your work.  They have a free tier and support user management so your whole team can participate.  

Missing deadlines is no good for anybody.  Luckily there is much you can do to reverse this pattern.  If you’re not getting the consistent wins you need making a few of these changes can set you on the path to success.

If you’d like to learn more about product management or talk more about the services I offer as a product management consultant please visit the services section of our website at NxtStep Services or reach out to me directly at  Keep disrupting.

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