Deadlines – Friend Or Foe?
“Deadlines are a budget for your time” said Scott H. Young in one of his articles.
Whether you are working in the corporate sector or are a student, you will face deadlines.
These days, there seem to be deadlines galore – a deadline to submit a report, a deadline to submit an assessment, a deadline to complete a project for the kids, a deadline to get in shape for the next tropical vacation, and the list goes on.
The one thing that I have noticed (through personal experience) is that deadlines are not necessarily a bad thing.
Deadlines can make us more productive.
Yes, you heard me right – deadlines can make us more productive. Let me explain to you why I believe in that.
Have you ever been too busy?
If you have, then you would know what it feels like to operate under pressure.
Working toward a deadline can make you operate under more pressure.
However, working toward a deadline can also make you more productive.
Let me share an example with you. I had a coaching client (approximately 4 years ago) who always seemed to struggle with getting things done.
She had impressive formal education, and was in a respectable role (career wise).
This lady had a habit of “putting things off for another day”.
Have you ever felt like that or done that?
In every coaching session that we had, she would come up with a list of things that she wanted to accomplish. However, she never completed those tasks.
My suggestion to her was very simple – give yourself a deadline.
She hesitated and was unsure about it.
I suggested that she implement a deadline for just one task that she had been putting off for weeks, and observe the result that she would get.
After some convincing, she agreed. Surprisingly to her, the task was completed! Why? There was a deadline.
My suggestion to anyone is to give themselves deadlines on anything that they wish to complete.
As the old adage goes – “A dream with a deadline is a goal. Anything else is merely a wish”.
Here are 3 simple suggestions on how to use deadlines:
- Give yourself a deadline (even) for smaller tasks – being a corporate speaker/trainer and an anti-bullying campaigner at the same time is very challenging for me. How do I juggle the two roles with my family life, fitness, volunteer work, and hobbies? I give myself a deadline to get the smallest tasks completed. Please do the same thing. If you have to complete a small task, give yourself a deadline. The bottom line is that it will get done, and you can then focus on bigger tasks. Some small tasks could be very important. Give them a deadline, and get them done!
- Give yourself a deadline even if you feel that you’re not that busy – what I tend to do is give myself deadlines even if I feel that I am not that busy on a particular day. Why? It will ensure that whatever I am doing at the time will be done efficiently, and I can then look for other important things to do. Deadlines are not only for busy people. Anyone can use deadlines even if they feel that they are not busy. The goal of a deadline is to help you in getting tasks done, regardless of how “not so busy” you may feel.
It’s amazing how productive you can be when you are stretched for time.
In an article in Harvard Business Review, Dana Rousmaniere said “Deadlines are a done-for-you prioritization tool that tells you a given project is important to focus on since its deadline is earlier. Deadlines can also make it easier to honestly assess your workload”.
Please utilise a deadline to your advantage.
Another point about deadlines is that you should reach out for help if you feel that you need to do so. It is said that two minds are better than one. Get input from trusted and reliable sources who can support you in getting tasks completed.
Quote: “Deadlines refine the mind. They remove variables like exotic materials and processes that take too long. The closer the deadline, the more likely you’ll start thinking way outside the box.” Adam Savage
Please ensure that your deadlines are realistic. False expectations will put unnecessary pressure on you.
I sincerely hope that I have given you a simple insight into how you can productively use deadlines in getting things done.
Influencing you to your excellence,