Even those with years of freelancing behind them can get in a deadline bind, and the more clients you juggle, the harder it gets.
Meeting deadlines = keeping your word
When someone asks for something by a certain date, look at your calendar and at the rest of your workload to decide if that date is realistic before committing to it. If you need to have a different deadline date put on the project for any reason, let the requester know right away and suggest an alternate date. Don’t forget that when you commit to a date you are giving your word that you will deliver. Others will count on that date as they plan all their other work, and may even promise things to clients based on it. Only commit to a date if you mean it. This is so important!
The flip-side of this is that if you already have a bunch of projects with committed due dates and some new work comes along, be sure to plan your due-dates on those new projects such that you will not interfere with your existing projects.
Communication is key
When you see something that will put your deadline in jeopardy, let the people on your project know immediately so they can juggle their own schedules accordingly. If you give people enough advance notice, then 90% of the time, just communicating about the slip will completely remove any problems associated with having to extend a deadline.
The moral of the story:
Be realistic when you commit to dates, as people will count on your word. Do what you can to meet your deadlines, but if something comes up that will mean you cannot meet a date, contact the requester as soon as possible and let him/her know. Missed deadlines are a fact of life: it is timely communication that can make missed deadlines okay (or at least not so bad).
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