I am one of those people who thrive on deadlines; nothing brings on inspiration more readily than desperation.”
Harry Shearer, actor
Oftentimes, speakers will pull us aside and ask what the “real” deadline date is for submitting their materials. Unlike many projects you may work on, when it comes to conference management there is typically very little wiggle room in the planning timeline. This is because many of our deliverables rely on working within other vendors’ production schedules and our implementation timeframe is finite – the doors open on the day of the event no matter what.
We know that there are always factors outside your control that can derail your best intentions of meeting a deadline, but when following these steps, you can meet deadlines more consistently and with a lot less stress.
1. Define the Task
Make sure you are clear about what is expected of you now, not the day it is due. Take time to identify any questions and reach out to the conference office until you are confident you know what needs to be done.
2. Assess the Impact of Others
Take into account the impact others may have on your ability to complete a task. Then consult with each person who will have a part in the project to determine his or her time requirements.
3. Create Your Work Plan – Backwards
When you are given deadline dates and a list of items to be delivered to our office, start from the end and create milestones for yourself to measure progress along the way.
4. Chunk It
Don’t try to tackle everything at once. Take it one step at a time. Examine your milestones and break them down into smaller tasks. Then, don’t just mark the final deadline date on your calendar. Give yourself mini-deadline dates for each sub-task and document them.
5. Leave Ample Time
Be sure to block off enough time on your schedule for each step of the process. Researching, writing, preparing materials and practicing all take time and focus. Leaving it to the last minute doesn’t honor your expertise or the value of the information to the attendees.
When you meet a deadline, pat yourself on the back! Recognize the accomplishment with a strut through the office, a treat from your chocolate stash or a happy dance. Then, get on to the next task!