Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Deadlines Cured

Once a deadline has been contracted and a diagnosis is made, then all that remains is its treatment. Fortunately there are a number of courses of action available to reduce deadlines and even make them disappear. Whether a mild deadline or an acute one, the following prescriptions have been field tested and proven to provide amazingly successful results.

© 2014 Don Arday.

How To Cope With Deadlines

Know your own limits.
Quite often symptoms with deadlines arise, not from the deadline itself, but from events such as a schedule shift or a sudden overdose of work. Assess your own ability to multitask and how much time should be prescribed in order for you to complete common tasks.

Keep a single schedule of all of your projects.
It’s easy to forget when something occurred or is prescribed to occur and to loose track of time over extended periods. By utilizing a single “at a glance” schedule of project due dates, and critical events, it will be much easier to plan ahead and to administer more than one overlapping job.

Keep all job assets in one place.
Nothing wastes time like having to look for something or track down a piece of information. Create a job folder for each job and keep things like notes, reference material, sketches, copy’s of emails, and links to websites, etc. The folder can be physical or digital.

Keep a log of all contact content and times with clients.
The small details that come along during the course of a job such as specifications, special stipulations and conditions, or revised project content can easily be lost in daily distractions. A quick periodic review of this information can prevent a trauma from occurring as a job progresses.

Separate projects into individual stages.
It is common to suffer from a feeling of being overwhelmed when a deadline presents itself. By dissecting a job into separate tasks, i.e., staged deadlines, it is easier to handle each individual dose, as it is needed. Think only of the task at hand, as each task is completed, you will advance closer to finishing the job without anxiety or trauma.

Set daily accomplishment goals.
It is important to your creative well being to set goals and accomplish them. This can be done on a daily basis. Setting and achieving daily goals promotes a healthy sense of accomplishment, supports a comforting feeling of self-confidence, and authenticates the rank of a professional. Additionally, the establishment of daily goals forms the foundation for longer-term career goals.

Adhere to a regular work regiment.
It is important to have a healthy work routine. Developing a consistent work routine is one of the best ways to combat deadline diseases such as procrastination, deferment, and slow down. A habitual work routine can be extremely beneficial in increasing job productivity; after all much of what we do borders on an obsessive-compulsive approach to work.

Set a self-imposed deadline before the actual deadline is due.
The best way to avoid a surprise and an ensuing panic attack is to set a self-imposed deadline on an assignment. Not only will a self-imposed deadline increase your productivity, it will increase your status when you come to the rescue of a client that has had to rush a deadline.

Use a consistent, organized working methodology.
Make some conscious decisions about how to work and what works best for you, and stick with it, in other words; determine your own workflow. Design when and how jobs progress to their completion and establish your own remedy for a job workflow; adapt and nourish your method as needed until you can sustain consistency.

Make sure your studio is neat and organized.
A cluttered, disorganized work environment will lead to a disorderly, unsystematic work method, which will, in turn, lead to an inability to diagnose and treat deadlines. It is vitally important to own your workspace and to not let it overwhelm you. An orderly studio will prevent distractions that can interfere with your mental concentration and waste quite a bit of time.

If you work digitally, frequently back up your work.
A penny saved is a penny earned, and a file saved is worth 100’s of thousands of pennies. This is especially important if you are susceptible to working digitally. Illustrators who work with traditional media can rescan or re-photograph work, but for digital media illustrators, a lost file means permanently lost work. You’ll find that backing up image files to two additional devices will not only immunize you from loss, but is good insurance for your mental health.

Develop a rewards strategy.
It is a scientifically proven that people work more effectively when there is some form of reward to be had; an incentive or a benefit that can be reached as a result of completed work. It’s a remedy that will boost motivation and inspire the necessary concentration to complete a task at hand. The reward should be some-thing special, quite different than the money a job can generate. It should be based on supplementary therapeutic and restorative incentives; something you enjoy.

Deadline Triage


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Final Thoughts

With proper management and treatment, deadlines can be a healthy part of an illustration business. They keep assignments on track, discourage stagnation, and encourage the artistic growth of an illustrator.

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