Even the best of us have missed deadlines for one reason or the other. But then there are some of us who struggle more than the rest with deadlines and miss them so often that it looks like an undying habit. The truth is, there’s an inherent problem with our brains to miss deadlines, a hardwired genetic issue that has lingered on in spite of evolution.
Anything we do must be aimed at delivering timely results. In the fast paced modern business environment, an individual is but a part of the larger picture, a small variable in a large, complex equation. Within this environment, error-free and on-time work is the key to successful career. The weakest variables are often ruthlessly eradicated and plugged because they leave a cascading effect on solving the big equation. Which means, if you are one of those weak variables, prepare yourself to be removed from the equation. But if you feel like improving yourself immediately, you might want to read further and explore which of these factors apply to you and take them out of the equation before you are pushed out.
One of the biggest reasons you are unhappy with your work and your life, perhaps, is because maybe you are a perfectionist. Chasing perfection is not an option for you, it is an ingrained habit. But what you need to understand is that perfection in an organization is never achieved because of an individual, it is supposed to be a team effort. Of course, some of your clients and bosses may be happy if you are trying to achieve perfection in your work, but the truth is, you will be forever stuck in the work-work loop without really finishing anything. What you need to do is start setting benchmarks for your performance and learn to make decisions with less than 100% data. Learn to listen to your intuition, your gut feeling and learn to rely a little more on your experience. You won’t go far from your mark if you rely on your experience, that’s for sure.
Procrastinate a little less
Learn from the old proverb - “a stitch in time saves nine”, and stop procrastinating. If you are in the habit of sitting on a task until the last moment, then try to change that immediately. If you believe that slogging on a task in the last moments is as good as an off-site for your team, then you are thinking wrong. You have to learn to seize the moment and live in the present as much as you can. And your present demands that you pay attention to your work right now and finish it before you take on another task, whether professional or personal.
Learn to take a little, calculated risk
Thought without action is absolutely useless. It won’t take you anywhere and then you won’t know how to go anywhere. You won’t be able to learn if you don’t make mistakes, you won’t be open to new ideas, innovation, and then you get comfortable and then your career stagnates. Taking risk, on the other hand, is not about simply jumping in and forgetting to think before you leap. Calculated risks are a whole different proposition. You need to learn how to calculate the risk factor and make a decision, push the envelop and take action. History is rife with examples where the most successful businessmen have been the ones who took calculated risks, failed often, learned more and grew more than their peers.
Death by over-analysis
When analysis becomes a habit that you cannot move an inch without analyzing the possible or even imaginary ramification of that step, then perhaps it is time to analyze your process of analysis itself. Testing data, running simulations and tests - you might need that to satisfy your hunger for statistics, but the rest of the world may not want the same. Statistics cannot be the only foundation of a decision, your experience counts as well, so make it count.
Finding a solution
Not all things can be given the same amount of attention. Learn to prioritize tasks, distinguish between big and small decisions, and their possible impact on your career and your business unit. Don’t even try to get all the answers together in one place before moving ahead and making a decision. Make a few mistakes, learn from them and apply those learnings to your future decision making process. Don’t allow yourself to recess into a comfort zone so deep that it becomes impossible for you to get out of it easily. And above all, trust in yourself to make the right decision and learn from every mistake. Why? Because time is a big luxury and a big responsibility.