What happens when a job needs to be finished by 5pm Friday? It gets done on Friday.  Even if it came in on Monday!  

What about if that same job needed to be finished by Wednesday at 5pm?  It gets done on Wednesday!  ”I’ll get it done by Wednesday” is nearly always code for “I’ll do it on Wednesday”.  

The no. 1 way to get more done on time is to stop saying “it will be done by …”, and decide exactly “when” it will get done.

For example, if I need to review a new document, I don’t say “I’ll get that done by Friday”, I make a decision that “I’ll do it from 2-3pm Tuesday”.  Then I lock it in my calendar.  On Tuesday at 2pm I review the document and finish the whole task much sooner.  

The result? A 1-hour task is finished and off my list of priorities much faster.  In fact, I barely had to think about it.  I made an appointment in my calendar (just like any other meeting) and kept myself accountable. 

The same can apply to your team mates, suppliers, even clients.  Instead of asking “When will you get back to me?”, start asking “When will you do that?”. And if they say “I’ll get it done by Friday”, consider asking if it can be done sooner.   

Keeping yourself and others accountable by asking “when” it will be done is one of the most effective ways to get more things done on time.  Give it a try.