I’m privileged to work with organizations and businesses on leadership development. What I do most often is give a presentation, facilitate a meeting, or train a class based on one of my books. And although all are rewarding, they’re not my favorite. The leadership coaching that I enjoy above all else is when I’m given the opportunity to sit one-on-one with a manager, listen to their challenges, ask about their needs, brainstorm actions, and offer my advice. Today I’m gong to talk about one method to avoid missed deadlines.

My Approach

I approach these sessions with an open mind because I don’t want to prejudge or preclude. I begin by asking the following:

Where could you use leadership help and advice?

What are your biggest challenges in management?

What are your biggest frustrations as a manager?

How can I help you?

I’ll be sharing these sessions with you as I complete them. Hopefully, I’ll share a few ideas that can help others.

The Office Manager Missing Deadlines  

When I asked the office manager the questions listed above, she shared with me that organization, time management, and prioritizing tasks were her biggest obstacles. Although she took copious notes, she had missed more than one deadline, not because she was overloaded, but due to forgetting the date. I began by asking to look at her to-do list. Her method of organization was to take notes on a legal pad and then browse through them throughout the week. They weren’t arranged by date or priority. I advised her to create a weekly and daily to-do list.

A Primitive File

I shared a time from years ago when I managed a retail outlet. Corporate staff would send out action plans almost daily. These included price changes, marketing materials, special promotions, and more. I was also responsible for things such as payroll, keeping track of hours and completing forms to send to the corporate accounting department.

I stacked these in a pile on my desk, and then each day I pulled out the ones I thought I needed to complete that day. Unfortunately, I missed deadlines. Once I even marked down a product, set up marketing materials, and began a sale – one week ahead of time.

Simple Answers Are Often the Best

My answer was simple, and it worked. I stapled eight large manila envelopes above my desk and marked them with the days of the week plus one that was marked future. Every Monday I pulled the future stack and placed that week’s actions in the envelopes for the day they were scheduled. I never missed a deadline again.

A Daily To-do List

My advice to the office manager was to create a daily to-do list. It didn’t matter if it was on a legal pad, file boxes with the day of the week on the front, Outlook, or one of several apps available to use as a to-do list. The important point wasn’t how she created a daily list but that she had one and used it.

She opted for a combination of her legal pad and outlook. She writes out a weekly to-do list on her legal pad and then adds them to her Outlook calendar by day. So far, she hasn’t missed a deadline.

If you like this you might also enjoy this post, Reducing Constant Interruptions at the Office

Photo by Cathryn Lavery on Unsplash