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Tax Day is nearly upon us in the United States. If you’re like me, that means you have been in a frenzy for the last few weeks, trying to get all your documents together. It’s not that I don’t know April 15 is Tax Day. The problem is that I save my preparation until the last minute. (Hopefully, my accountant is not reading this post. But, who am I kidding? She already knows.)

Now that I’ve pulled everything together I’ve been reflecting on this year’s tax scramble, and I have a few key learnings that also apply to eLearning design:

Ask for help

Several years ago, I realized it would be better to have a professional do my taxes. My time is focused on putting words on the page, not numbers. I finally realized that there are people—a lot of people—who can prepare my taxes better than I can.

We all have our gifts and abilities when it comes to eLearning. You might be great at storyboarding but not so skilled at creating new activities. Or, you may enjoy working in Camtasia while your colleague has mad skills when it comes to designing in Adobe Captivate. If there’s an area of design that is challenging for you, or which you don’t like to do, ask someone for help. Put your time and energy to use doing something you enjoy.

Organize your documents

Just as organized financial documents make for an easier process of filing your taxes, so do systems and processes make for a better eLearning design experience. If you don’t have a filing system, naming convention, or adequate storage in place, it makes it hard to find what you need when you need it.

While you’re at it, be organized about what’s included in your courses. If you don’t have one, create a Style Guide so you’re not recreating the wheel every time you start to design a new course. Capture information about logo requirements, color palettes, fonts, and image standards in one, easy-to-reference document to make for a smoother development process.

Communicate about deadlines

Things happen. Best intentions get delayed. That’s when it’s time to ask for an extension. The IRS grants extensions, and so will your clients. Just be sure to ask for them in advance, explain why you need an extension, and make sure you do everything possible to meet the new deadline.

Or, better yet, deliver your project before the new deadline.

If you still haven’t filed your taxes, step away from the screen and get to work!

But promise me—once your taxes are filed, or you’ve met that big eLearning deadline, start putting some plans in place for the next project. Identify who you can ask for help, look for ways to organize your process, and make a plan that ensures you have reasonable deadlines in place.

And, with any luck, these frenzied days of scrambling to meet a tax or project deadline will be a thing of the past for all of us! Let us know in the comments how you manage workflows and deadlines in your eLearning.

LizSheffieldBioLiz Sheffield is a freelance writer with a background in training and development. She specializes in writing about everything related to the human side of business. You can contact her via LinkedIn or Twitter.

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