9 Ways to Meet Your Deadlines and Commitments

Oh no! It’s Thursday night and you just remembered you promised you’d have something complete by Friday at 8 a.m.. There’s no way you’re going to get the work done.

Everyone’s been there … but there are some of us struggle more than others. Whether you need help getting over that procrastination, figuring out the right organization, or sticking to a plan, here are some tips that might prove helpful.

Before you agree

Euler’s diagram is often referred to in project management where people are invited to pick two: good, fast, or cheap. The idea being you can’t have it all. If deadlines are tight, something probably will suffer. Maybe you can produce something faster and cheaper, but it’s of low quality. Maybe it’s good and fast, but it’s expensive. As you’re thinking about the deadline, keep this in mind.

1. Keep it clear

Make sure exactly what’s being asked of you. Clarify the necessary deliverables, exactly when they’re due, and if there are any intermediate steps that need to be taken.

2. Look for options and say, “No” if you have to

If it looks unlikely, figure out other alternatives and discuss them. Can the work be done differently? Can you get help? Can it be done by someone else? Does it have to be high quality? Is the deadline a hard date, requiring completion by then?

No one relishes saying, “No.” But after you’ve exhausted options, it might be the only thing left to say.

When you do have to say, “No,” let the person know up front. It shouldn’t feel impetuous or apathetic, because in reality, you’re saving all parties involved time and stress. Explain the situation, and explain that you don’t feel you can offer quality work after already agreeing to so many responsibilities.

3. Negotiate a cushion

Sometimes deadlines are set in stone, but most of the time you can find a little wiggle room, especially at the beginning of a discussion. Keep it reasonable, but always see how much time you really have so you can accommodate for surprises, unexpected delays, and accidents.

4. Understand priorities and re-prioritize if necessary

Is the new deadline more important than other work. Negotiate on other deadlines as you need, explaining that a priority item came in. Talk about how this item helps your department and the company, too.

During

5. Make the master list

Create and maintain a collection of all deadlines. When you receive a new deadline, break it up into action items, and estimate how long each item will take to complete. Plot each action item on your calendar in sequential order, and give yourself enough time to complete them. Setting start dates and completion dates for each item can help you measure your progress.

6. Take one step at a time

9 ways to meet deadlinesBig projects can sometimes seem so overwhelming they’re difficult to start. On the other hand, a large project with a distant deadline can give the illusion that you have more time than you really do, and make it easy to put off until the last moment. In both cases it’s important to focus on the day-to-day; don’t think about the final product. You’ve already broken your task down into action items – all you have to do is take it step by step until you reach the goal.

7. Meet your commitments

If you’ve already agreed to the deadline, it’s important to meet it. If you need help, ask for it or maybe even hire it. Re-prioritize. Check in and make sure you understand what needs to be done with your manager or the client, sharing what you’ve already committed to.

8. Last resort: push it back

Things happen. If there’s no possible way to deliver on time, notify the person you promised. The earlier you notify them, the better they’ll be able to plan for the delay, and the less upset they’ll be.

After

9. Reflect

What went well? What didn’t go well? Should you have asked for more time? Was there some part you didn’t understand well enough that waylaid you? Asking for feedback from your manager and the people you had a deadline with may help you be more successful next time.

Have other ideas?

Let us know! We’d love to read them.

The Big “P” – Purpose at Work

Do you ever wonder what motivates people? American psychologist Abraham Maslow sought to answer this very question throughout his life’s work. Though he greatly contributed to the study of psychology, he was best known for his hierarchy of needs, which is represented in a five stage pyramid divided into basic, psychological and growth needs.

The top tier of Maslow’s hierarchy is self-actualization, which is the need to achieve one’s fullest potential and feel like you are making a difference. In essence, those who are enlightened can then help others down the hierarchy to achieve their fullest potential — like by doing more charitable work.

And emotional intelligence is not the same as enlightenment, although one could argue enlightened people are emotionally intelligent. People who’ve found purpose flourish — thrive in ways they can help others.

But this sense of purpose is not only essential in daily life, but is a critical component to creating a meaningful, happy workplace.

Why is having a purpose at work important?

Maybe in the early 1900s it was okay to drudge to work to collect a pay check. But that’s not what most workers want. They want to feel happy. They want to do work they find meaningful. And they want to do work they really love doing.

After all, when you’re doing work you love doing, it’s no longer — really — work.

What does this mean for companies – it improves business

Happiness = engagement

A recent Deloitte survey found that 73% of employees who identify as working for a purpose-driven organization report that they are engaged in the office. This number starkly contrasts the 23 percent of engaged employees who say that they do not work for a purpose-driven company.

Better productivity

A sense of purpose improves workHappier employees are 12% more productive. And if employees are doing purposeful work and work they love doing, the quality will be better and there’ll be fewer accidents, too. They’re even more likely to mentor other employees, helping leadership in your organization.

Employee retention

Also it helps employee retention. Employees who are challenged and engaged are less likely to leave. That decreases turnover costs, which run — according to SHRM — about half of an employees’ salary just in finding a replacement. That’s added on to the cost of actually getting the new employee — paying him.

Better customer service

Best of all, happy employees make for happy customers. If employees are achieving more and doing their best work, customers will notice.

As mentioned above, if employees are enlightened, they’ll be more willing to help customers (and other employees) to be enlightened as well.

How can you foster this need?

Integrating purpose at your business must begin at the ground up. Re-evaluate your mission statement, determining whether or not your company’s goals truly match up with its organizational structure, rewards system, market approach and more. If not or if you believe your mission is lacking, you may need to completely pivot and change directions.

Once you finalize your new mission statement, make sure that your employees’ personal goals are in sync with your organization’s. Understand what really drives them and why they chose to work at your particular company. Then, channel this energy into how your organization operates and rewards its high-performing staff. Meanwhile, create a positive atmosphere, where managers provide meaningful feedback and one-on-one sessions to keep everyone on the same page and motivated to do their work well.

Ways to engage employees

Empathy Improves Marketing

While sympathy and empathy are often used interchangeably, they’re far from being the same. Sympathy is the feeling of compassion, concern or care for another person or group of people. Empathy, on the other hand, is the ability to “put yourself in other people’s shoes” to understand and experience what they’re feeling. Essentially, empathy takes sympathy to an entirely new level.

That’s vital for marketing people when thinking about content, demand and lead generation, customer marketing, product marketing and website design. For content, coming up with what might help potential consumers and current customers, you need to know what you’re audience is thinking. What worries do they have? And how can you alleviate this pain? Images that look like your audience helps, too. For people creating various campaigns, it’s important to consider how do people want this information? What are the words that may help them rather than seem like I’m just marketing to them? Customer marketing knows how to interact with customers and what they’re struggling with and how to help. Product marketing needs to think about how items are marketed to potential customers. And website design has to consider usability as well as just about everything before from the content itself to where the words and images flow on a page.

In general, feeling empathy helps you understand pain points. Understanding pain points improves how you know your audience and do good marketing.

It’s more than that — it’s about being special

what is company cultureSeth Godin, marketing guru, calls on marketers to welcome people into their tribe. Niche marketing helps and really the only way to know what will resonate is through empathy and some careful review of metrics. Knowing your niche market helps in targeting your content, message and campaigns. Even if your product has nothing to do with Star Wars, but your audience and employees love Star Wars, maybe it’s time to figure out how your product and the sci-fi franchise work together.

In today’s customer-centered marketplace, consumers want to feel valued and special – not like one in a pool of a thousand other buyers. This is why incorporating empathy into your marketing efforts is so valuable for businesses today.

Become a customer yourself

One of the best ways to truly understand and experience what your consumers are feeling is to become a customer yourself. Go undercover and experience the entire process at both your company and your competitors to discover your organization’s pain points and benefits. This will help you truly see where your customers’ concerns are originating from and how to address them effectively in your marketing efforts.

Be transparent

empathy improves marketingDon’t hide from bad reviews or constructive criticism – embrace it! If you get called out in LinkedIn for bad service, acknowledge it and say, “Thanks for the feedback.” If you are transparent about your customer experience, more consumers may grow interested in your honest operational approach and products. Share all customer experiences and insights on your social media and testimonial pages to show future buyers that you recognize their concerns and are working to fix them.

Domino’s Pizza is one example of a business that turned a customer disaster into a successful learning experience. Instead of ignoring or covering up their poor quality or customer service, the executives acknowledged these facts and reinvented their brand – to great success, according to Business Insider. To be truly empathetic to your customer base, you must be completely transparent and open.

Be authentic

Fake empathy isn’t really empathy. It doesn’t resonate, either. Being genuine does more. For example, Coca Cola releases through social media pictures of real people. They’re not touched up. They don’t look like they’ve been edited in Photoshop. Instead, they look like someone from the office took them. In general, that marketing does better.

Where your brand is, where your employees are, and where your customers are — that’s the perfect intersection on how to target content, campaigns, social and more.

How to Ace Your Next Presentation

Whether it’s a webinar, webcast or your next meeting, public speaking — for introverts — can be taxing. Or maybe you don’t mind speaking in public, but deplore the thought of company presentations? Simply imagining yourself standing in front of your peers and bosses, enlightening them with your highly technical or specific presentation might keep you up at night. We get that.

webinarPresentations can be nerve wracking. After all, numerous studies in recent years indicate that people even fear public speaking more than they fear death. That’s crazy! If you want to ace your next presentation and not dissolve into a puddle of stress, here are a few key pieces of advice:

Practice, practice, practice

While you don’t have to memorize every tiny detail of your presentation – such as the way you use your hands when explaining the information on slide 4 – the more you practice and prepare, the less nervous you are likely to be.

Although you probably have notes for your slides, don’t include them. In fact, the more you don’t have to rely on them, the better you’ll be.

When you are practicing, make sure you are picking a key focal point to center on and only providing your audience with information they need to know – not extra information that isn’t entirely necessary. Overall, the important thought to remember is that while practice doesn’t make perfect, it can make you more prepared and give an engaging, relevant presentation.

Use the right tools

Without the right tools, your presentation is likely to flounder or fall flat altogether. If you are presenting on highly technical data or information, you will need plenty of charts, graphs, visuals and possibly even audio or video samples to get your point across.

You also have to use these tools correctly to ace your presentation. Guy Kawasaki, an American marketing specialist, author, and Silicon Valley venture capitalist, suggests the “10-20-30 Rule” for presentations. By this standard, your PowerPoint or slideshow should contain no more than 10 slides, only last 20 minutes and have text less than 30 point font.

Additionally, try to keep your slides clean and not overburden them with words and information. This will only overwhelm your audience. Essentially, you want to show them what you are talking about and then explain it concisely to convey your information correctly.

What’s Big Data? Will It Get Bigger?

What in the world is big data and just how BIG is it? That’s a question a lot of people are wondering, and not just the IBMs and data analyzer companies.

What is big data?

Big data refers to large amounts of structured and unstructured data that people can analyze and use to make better decisions. From helping scientists learn more about our DNA to city officials getting information about traffic patterns, big data is changing the way people view and interpret data as a whole.

What’s the big deal about big data?

brainstormBig data is typically defined in terms of the 3 V’s, which are: the variety of data, the significant volume of data and the velocity in which the data must be processed, according to TechTarget.

While the term does not explicitly refer to a specific quantity of information, it takes too much time and costs too many resources to load into a traditional database for easy analysis.

In today’s competitive marketplace, companies should attempt to understand what big data means to them, analyzing that data. They can decide how they can leverage it and the general potential of data-driven operations and marketing efforts.

For example, the big data that means that most to a company should be triggered to company health – revenue and revenue potential and operating costs. In addition, companies can see data trends that relate to their specific businesses. For example, software companies that provide SaaS (software as a service) can see peak usage times.

How can it get even bigger?

The short answer is: yes.

big dataBig data is opening up possibilities that were never before dreamed about. In the near future, we may live in a world where big data will shape each area of society in meaningful and lasting ways.

Envision living in a city where the city planners can easily access vital information on traffic patterns, driver preferences and more to know where to build roads or where to widen them to welcome the influx of cars on the streets. Or where physicians and scientific researchers can use big data to identify disease patterns and develop vaccines to cure illnesses. From having your phone send you text reminders about when to head out to make your appointment, to curing cancer, the possibilities big data – and fast analysis of big data – present are far reaching.

Big data, even now, is learning a lot about us

Social media platforms, like Facebook, are enabling deep learning about people from health to trending attitudes, all from users willingly giving their information over.

Think about it. You tell social media what movies and shows you like. You tell it what’s wrong or right with you. You share data about your family, your kids, etc. In the realm of big data, all of this information can be processed to make some interesting analysis — from how certain movies are doing to our very psychology like what makes us (as humans and individually) tick.

Now expand this to how we use just about every device from refrigerators to coffee machines. Big data may help us collaborate better and find the most perfect content.

As you can imagine, people concerned about privacy may be more alarmed at the amount of data we’re willingly sharing as well as what will be done with it. Also as you can imagine, this information is valuable to researchers and scientists, too, who have an unbiased glimpse to make our lives better.

What do you think big data will do?

We’d love to read your thoughts below.