Over the past two semesters, I have realized one thing that is extremely important when working on something: deadlines. Whenever you work on a project or are given a deadline for anything, it is important to stick to it as best you can. Many things have deadlines, and not meeting deadlines can cause problems down the line with other things that depend on that part of the project. At RPI, every student has hundreds of deadlines each semester including deadlines for problem sets, lab reports, papers, code, and research.
Deadlines are really a way of managing time for something. When something needs to get done, it has to be done by a certain time as life is not infinitely long. They budget your time so you are not infinitely procrastinating. Most of the time when you have a deadline that is provided for you, I suggest that you establish a new deadline that is earlier than the original. By doing this, you will be more productive as the time for you to complete a task is shorter than the original allotted.
Once a deadline is set, a plan of how the task will be completed before the deadline should be put into action. This usually requires the use of a calendar (I use Google Calendar with tasks for each deadline; it has a nice checkbox that you can check off once you’re done). Also, if the task is rather large, I suggest breaking it into parts with “mini-deadlines” for each part. A problem set could be broken down to a part a day to lessen the apparent amount of work you have at any given time and to keep you on track to finishing the task.
When dealing with multiple deadlines, it is important to take into consideration the other deadlines when adding a new one. The deadlines you create should optimally not overlap in order to avoid a work overload. An example of this would be if you have multiple exams in one days, instead of studying for both of them the night before, study multiple days before with your deadline of one subject a couple days before the exam and another the night before the exam.
Sometimes you have deadlines for simple actions such as signing up for something or RSVPing. When you have this type of deadline, responses should be done as quickly as possible to allow for consideration of your response. Or when the deadline is for a sign up, immediate response puts you in the best position possible without worrying about first come first serve coming into play.
When you cannot make a deadline, it is important to let the stakeholders know in advance that you will not be able to meet their proposed deadline. This allows them to make the plans in advance to account for the extra time that will be required. When it comes to school assignments, this is almost never possible. It is expected that the time allotted was more than enough time to meet a deadline.
Remember to take these suggestions in to consideration when you work with deadlines. More than anything, don’t procrastinate and finish early. This will allow you to have some free time when all your deadlines have been met.