10 Tips for Meeting Project Deadlines


Being successful on projects doesn’t just mean you delivered amazing work to a client. It means that the entire experience of working with you was successful. A pivotal part of maintaining your reputation as someone awesome to work with is meeting the deadlines you agreed on your client. For Shutterstock Custom contributors, making deadlines is so important to adhere to as missing a deadline can affect the types of assignments you receive, tier you are placed in, and contributor score you receive. 

We’re sharing 10 of our top tips on how you can make deadlines, and deliver an awesome experience to every client you work with as a freelancer.

1. Keep the deadline on the top of your mind

Deadlines aren’t optional, these are contractual obligations you agree on with a client. So you need to care about them. Be serious about making your deadlines, and prioritize your deadlines. Making a deadline is the first step in building a positive relationship with a client.

2. Communicate with the client if issues arise

Things happen, but if you and a client are in agreement on a specific deadline- make sure that if something happens that causes you to miss a deadline, you give the client as much notice as possible to adjust expectations.

With Shutterstock Custom assignments, our Project Coordinators are available anytime if you're at risk of missing a deadline. A request for an extension is much easier to grant when it comes two weeks before, rather than 2 hours before.

3. Don’t procrastinate

You may receive projects that have a deadline that’s weeks away. Don’t procrastinate. Maintain a sense of urgency from the moment you receive a project, or you’ll find yourself with a deadline two days away and a panic that you haven’t started the project. Start tackling it from the moment you receive, and break it down into smaller pieces.

4. Give your deadline some room

Don’t leave things to the last minute. Give a cushion to the day you need to deliver. By striving to make a deadline that’s in advance of the actual deadline, you give yourself breathing room if something goes wrong. 

5. Break down your tasks into steps

By breaking down the tasks you need into steps, you can start tackling it and minimizing the workload as you go. Give an estimate on how much time it will take you to do each step and write a list, checking off everything you complete as you go. It will feel much more gratifying than trying to tackle the project as one giant piece.

6. Don’t commit to deadlines you can't make

At Shutterstock Custom, one of the biggest things that causes our contributors to miss deadlines is over-promising and not delivering. By taking on too many projects with similar deadline dates, you overwhelm yourself. Learn to say no if you can’t commit to a project fully, there will be other ones in the future.

7. Learn from your mistakes

If you miss a deadline, analyze what went wrong and ensure it doesn’t happen again. Things go wrong, and situations arise that sometimes are out of your control. Be aware of what caused that missed deadline to happen, and avoid making the same mistakes in the future. 

8. Stay organized

People work in different ways, and they also organize themselves using different techniques. Use whatever technique works best for you to help you stay organized. The easiest way? Your cell phone has a calendar, so you’ll always have it on you. Put deadlines into your calendar, and set up notifications so you ensure you make each deadline. 

9. Be your own boss

By using the above tips and picking the best organizational method that works for you, you become your own time manager for each project. Hold yourself accountable to your responsibilities. If you have multiple projects, rank them by their deadlines and then prioritize them even further through how many logistics you need to do to make the project a success.

Use scheduling and productivity tools to manage your workload, and be the boss of your work. Because no one is going to do it for you. 

10. Worst comes to worse - drop everything and get it done.

Despite your many pre-planned efforts to make deadlines, sometimes you just have to get it done. Whether or not you underestimated the amount of work a project ended up taking, or a last minute change caused everything to crash-sometimes you just need to put in the time. Ideally, you don’t want to have to get to this point. By working with the client closely and managing their expectations, pre-plan so things don’t get to this point and everyone ends up happy with the end result. 

Missing deadlines can put your reputation and relationship with clients at risk. Providing awesome, quality content is only one part of your obligations. Making your deadlines is another. Giving each client and projects a great experience working with you has the potential to lead to new opportunities, and referrals- so make your deadlines count.

Have any tips you’d like to share on how you make deadlines as freelancers? Comment them below! 

Reminder: Shutterstock Custom is the new name for Flashstock.
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