With some projects we can set our own deadline. That is, there is no external or client driven deadline.
So how can we make sure we meet that deadline?
Do everything as normal. Set your objectives. Write your plan. Plan your team. Identify the interdependencies between people. Set your time plan. Review it. Redraft it.
Look at the deadline. Then double it. If it’s one month make it two months. If it’s four months make it eight. Why? Why not. If you end up achieving the deadline under time all the better. If you come in somewhere between your initial plan and the double it figure, there’s lots of learning to do. You also relieve stress and pressure. Whether you choose to tell the guys on the project is up to you. You may leave their deadlines where they are.
For some projects it won’t work or be practical, but for others it might just be the key to keeping your sanity.