3 Tips for Managing Your Deadlines

“I love deadlines,” Douglas Adams, the late author of the sci-fi classic The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy once admitted. ”I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.” And fly by they do. Writers’ lives are ruled by deadlines. Speech and presentation writers are no exception. When the clock strikes the appointed hour and the speaker steps onto the podium, he or she has to have a script in hand. 
A New Yorker cartoon does a good job of conveying the “life and death” feel of deadlines. In the picture, a man looks up from his computer to see the grim reaper and says: “Thank goodness you’re here. I can’t get anything done without a deadline.” Few people would welcome the harbinger of death with the same enthusiasm, but all of us can benefit from managing our deadlines. So, with that goal or ghoul in mind (sorry I couldn’t resist the pun) here are three tips.

• Create a workflow - Become aware of the discrete steps you need to take to research, plan, outline, draft, get approvals and edit. Then apply the same process to each assignment. (Join me for a workshop and take away a workflow you can use out of the box or customize to meet your specific needs.)

• Keep track of your hours - People are often surprised by how long it takes to put together a talk. A little record-keeping will provide you with a clear idea of the number of hours needed to complete a project. Then, plan backwards from delivery date, making sure to leave yourself some wiggle room. 

• Be realistic about what you can get done in a day - You might estimate that a 20-minute speech will take about four days of your time based on an eight-hour day. But, stop and consider: how many of those hours can you really devote to the assignment? Add up the must-dos, meetings and interruptions that punctuate a typical day. Then, calculate the hours left over to work on your speech. Don’t be surprised if you double your time appreciation.