Objects in the mirror may be closer than they appear 

The other day as I was driving home, a car in the nearside lane pulled out as I was alongside it. I don’t know how they missed me!

I was reminded of the legend you often see in car door or wing mirrors: “Objects in mirror are closer than they appear”

The same is true of deadlines; they are always closer than you think.

If you plan to complete something that will take five days work and you want to complete it in 6 months time it is very easy to think “Ok, I’ve got plenty of time to do that” and do nothing.

Before you know it the deadline is only 3 months away. Apparently, half the available time has disappeared but progress on the project is still zero.

If you factor in the other commitments on your time – the things that you have to do every week, and every month – the time you have available for this project can be very limited indeed!

Take your six-month deadline and deduct from that any holidays – personal or public. That’s a couple of weeks. Then take away your normal committed hours – for the sake of ease let’s assume you have one day a fortnight available for the project.

Six months is 30 weeks or 150 days, but you are on holiday for 10 days and busy for 135 days.

Your available time at the outset is 5 days to complete a 5-day project, so you don’t have a moment to lose!

Completing a project on time and on the budget – whether that is a time or an expenditure budget – requires, first of all, a sensible assessment of the available resources. If you really don’t have the 5 days, you are not going to complete the project. You may have to reduce other commitments to make the time/free up the resources.

A really useful second step – especially with more complex projects – is to have milestones that have their own deadlines. You can review progress on an interim basis and adjust the project plan based on those reviews, either by additional resource or by extending the timetable.