I arrived in the digital marketing world by way of the outdoor industry - hunting, fishing, etc. - where I was a writer. Still am a writer, I suppose. Yet through all the experiences and lessons I’ve learned along the way, the most important is likely to never leave my brain. In fact, I can still hear the inflection of my mentor’s voice when he said, “Never miss a deadline. That’s the fastest way to lose the trust of an editor, see yourself out of a job and ultimately reduce your income.” Wade Bourne has never seemed to be wrong about much.
I don’t do quite as much freelancing these days due to my responsibilities at Lewis, and frankly rest easier knowing my well-being isn’t such a gamble. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s time to become lazy, rid myself of a rigid execution plan that falls short of my capabilities. Because now I’m not working for the satisfaction of just a couple of people - the editor and myself - but rather a whole team and a plethora of clients who depend on Lewis to further their success. And if everyone doesn’t stand up to be accounted for, the whole network suffers.
Meeting deadlines means practicing sound time management. Take a few minutes to reflect on your daily routine and try to pinpoint why you have a great day, accomplishing a list of tasks, and why you might have a day where it seems as though you’re stuck in quicksand. The latter of which usually occurs when we let ourselves worry about the completed house rather than building it one brick at a time.
As the old saying goes, “Rome wasn't built in a day.” But you can bet the project was well planned before executed. Making an outline, giving yourself personal deadlines throughout the life of the project, will keep things running smoothly. Create a separate document for each project where you can list every task and jot down ideas as they come. This will give you a better look at the big picture while allowing you to knock out one section at a time moving forward.
Ask For Help
It doesn’t particularly matter if you’re a developer or a content specialist, we all need help from time to time. To overcome your apprehension, first step outside of your comfort zone by taking on a foreign task and second, approach someone who knows more than you. It’s human nature for most of us to want to help others. An overwhelming task to you might be simple to someone in another department. Plus, you’ll build a relationship with a teammate you might not otherwise have had a chance to deal with.
In the end, not only will you benefit from the experience, the company will as well. Camaraderie among employees creates a positive attitude that smooths the future road. When that next obstacle arises, and it will, you’ll either be able to solve it yourself from what you previously learned, thus saving precious minutes and elevating personal confidence, or will have an easier time approaching the very person who can help.
It’s Okay to Say No… Sometimes
This is a toughy, especially if you’re wired to please. While a portion of the world’s population is capable of saying No due to indefinite bouts of laziness or general incompetence, you don’t hear that word much around the Lewis office. And that’s not saying our employers are blowhards who drive us to the edge of sanity with an overwhelming number of projects. Simply put, we welcome the challenge. This is an innovative and ever-evolving market where those who don’t stay ahead get eaten, figuratively speaking.
If you need to say No, have sound logic behind your reasoning. Perhaps you don’t have time to produce your best work. Yes, there are nights and weekends, but life outside of work needs attention too. If you’re unsure of what to do, sit down with your boss and discuss the project. Let him know what’s on your plate. Communication is key, and lacking that transparency can be a disservice to the team.
Make Deadlines Personal
While the client might be lax on a project’s due date, take it upon yourself to be strict with your time. If it’s an internal project, be a team player. We’re all busy. Remember that in the end, it’s not about you regardless if you’re a freelancer or an employee of a small agency or large corporation.
Once you have these few steps down, the rest is just logistics. Mr. Bourne has undoubtedly given me numerous tips concerning writing, dealing with editors and overall encouragement to help me continue to grow as a writer and a person. But like the events that set us in motion down a particular path, it was his words about meeting deadlines that will forever stick.