Let’s face it: how many times have you said “yes” to a project only to get overwhelmed because the client is asking for an unreasonable deadline? Don’t fret, because there is a way to stop spending sleepless nights and beat the clock. Here’s what you can do to get out of the rabbit hole and never miss a deadline again.

Measure Your Productivity

The more you know yourself, the better you can predict how much time an individual project will take — and then understand how many projects you can deliver on time. This way, you avoid biting off more than you can chew.

How to do it: Measuring your productivity can be as simple as adding up all the hours you worked and dividing them by the time spent. You then can set small and realistic goals according to these estimates. This will not only keep you on time but also motivated to keep going and beat the clock.

Gather Some Extra Hands to Meet the Deadline

When you know you won’t be able to meet the client’s deadline by yourself, don’t hesitate to ask for help. But, be very careful when selecting your extra pair of hands: make sure your project is delivered on time while keeping the quality high. Day Translations is known for its rapid turnaround and excellent customer service because they make use of teams of people working throughout the globe. You may not have the resources to do this yet, but try to get creative with your partners.

How to do it: If you know that you won’t be able to cope with an entire project on your own, try outsourcing some of the work. The best way to do this is not when you’re racing against a deadline. Ideally, you’ll try out different translators until you find one or two that you’re happy working with. When you find you need the extra help, you’ll have qualified assistance to rely on. If they live in different time zones from you, that should give them a head start while you’re sleeping to get going on the project. Give yourself time to proof all the work to be sure that it meets your standards.

Find Ways to Boost Your Productivity

Now that you have more time on your hands, how about making the best of it? If the client’s deadlines are short, there are ways to increase your productivity when you’re not particularly feeling your best. One that has been scientifically proven to boost your output is the Pomodoro Technique. It works by pulling you away from distractions while keeping you focused — and productive — for short periods of time.

How to do it: Set specific time slots of 25 minutes to work uninterruptedly. No phone, no social media, no talking. This is your Pomodoro time: when you get down to business and get things done. When your alarm goes off, take a 5-minute break — no matter what, you stop immediately and do something completely unrelated. Then start all over again.

Create Open Dialogue with Your Client

Set clear expectations with your customer and understand the motivation for the deadline. Often, you can ask your client to push the deadline if you explain how much time you’ve spent on a similar project in the past. Sometimes the quick turnaround involves other business decisions that cannot be moved around. At the end of the day (most) clients are humans too. If you really can’t meet a deadline, negotiate until you find some common ground.

How to do it: Ask as many questions as you can before you start the project and be open about your schedule. If you’ve worked with this client in the past, they are more likely to understand your requests, and you can reach an agreement that will benefit both parties.

All in all, impossible deadlines can be used to motivate you, better your time management skills, or even tighten your relationship with your client — just look for the silver lining! When you face these challenges, take a look at how you handle your workload and do your best to improve your productivity either by negotiating more time or, if the deadline is truly unrealistic, by delegating some of the work. Good luck!

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