Ah, deadlines! They are the bane of every video creator’s existence and they are the only way we can get work done sometimes. While everyone would probably say they’d prefer to not have them, we all know that we wouldn’t get anything done without them. As the old saying goes, “work expands to fill the time.” So, we have to have deadlines in order to finish out our video project work.
But the worst feeling an artist or producer can have is when they miss a deadline. Often it’s not even their fault, but various circumstances cause deadlines to be missed every day. Here are five ways to avoid missing those deadlines and having angry clients breathing down your neck.
How to Hit Every Deadline as a Video or Filmmaker
1. Make Fake Deadlines
Just like we mentioned above, work expands to fill the time. If you know you have a deadline coming up in five days, you’ll likely take five days to get the work done. This is a recipe for disaster. On the night before the deadline, you’ll realize you left out something important, or you’ll suddenly have render issues that slow you down.
Instead, set false deadlines a few days before the actual deadline. Force yourself to hold to the false deadlines so that there is always room for errors or issues that come in in the buffer time.
This will alleviate the feeling of impending doom that surrounds deadlines because you’ll always be ahead of schedule and you’ll always have time to fix issues.
If you are directing a team of people, give them the false deadlines to work with. They don’t even need to know that there is extra time on the back end, and everyone will stay ahead of schedule.
2. Hold Clients Accountable
Many times deadlines are missed because of clients. However, clients won’t always take that blame or even be aware that they are forcing you to get behind. Sometimes clients feel like they can just get you feedback when they are ready, and you can make whatever changes are needed in little to no time. They are generally wrong about this.
To eliminate this problem, set up a detailed timeline for your projects that includes dates and times for client feedback. Get them to sign off on the feedback calendar ahead of time. This way, if they don’t get back to you in a timely manner, they are missing their deadline. And you have the ammunition you need to go back to them and push the timeline because of their failure to keep up.
You don’t need to be mean about this or cause a rift with your client. But by giving them a clear outline of what’s expected from them, you can give them a gentle push when their own deadlines are coming up and let them know that they are potentially holding up the process.
3. Get Organized
The easiest way to miss a deadline is to forget to make a change until the last minute or altogether. Clients can sometimes be unclear with notes. They may give you some notes on a call, and others in an email (or several). With information coming from all directions, it’s easy to miss something.
Figure out an organization method for changes that work for you. Trello is an online task management software that lets you make to-do’s and checklists, and allows you to set deadlines for them. This can help you stay organized.
Google Keep is a note-taking app that is very simple to use, and there is an extension that lets you load your Keep files into Premiere Pro for easy access to your notes. And if you are old school, simply writing all of your notes in a notebook or on post-its is fine too, as long as you keep them organized.
4. Make Friends
Sometimes we miss deadlines because we take on more than we can handle. Maybe it’s too many deliverables, or maybe it’s tasks that we don’t know how to do.
Are you good at 2D animation, but not 3D? Are you a great video editor who lacks design knowledge? Network with other professionals who can make up for your weaknesses. When possible, hire them to help you out so that you deliver above your client’s expectations and on time.
Friends don’t always have to be people you know either. Templates are a great way to get things done quickly and to help you cover for certain skills you may lack. If you are an editor who needs lower thirds or titles, an After Effects template or Premiere Pro template may be just the thing you need to keep your project on schedule. Marketplaces like Motion Array have thousands of assets at your fingertips when time gets tight.
5. Learn To Say No
This is a hard thing for many creatives and freelancers to do. When you are trying to build a business or make a living, the hardest thing to do is to say no. You never know when you are going to be busy or when you’ll slow down.
But one thing is for sure, if you start missing deadlines, your clients won’t come back. Taking on a job that you don’t have time for, or is above your skill set can do more damage than good.
If you feel like you can’t get a job done in the proposed timeline, let the client know that you’d love to help them, but you just won’t be able to get it done as proposed and that you’d rather let them know ahead of time so that you don’t let them down. They’ll thank you for it. They may even be able to move the deadlines to accommodate you, and everyone wins.
Sure, making sure you hit each and every video project’s deadline can be the worst, but it doesn’t have to be. With some simple planning, creative thinking, and an honest assessment of your workload, you can avoid missing almost all deadlines. We promise you’ll sleep better and your clients will keep coming back.