In school, deadlines were the motivator to get things done. Of course, for many of us, it was the night before or the morning of when we finally got moving. But, nonetheless, deadlines were that big motivator that made us suddenly productive. As adults, we are mostly allowed to create our own deadlines, which some of us never do. Many people prefer to live carefree and get things done when we they feel it. I tried living carefree once. It didn’t work. I didn’t accomplish anything, and I didn’t move closer to my goals. Because I had set no deadlines for my goals, I felt no pressure to be productive, which was a disaster. I now look at it as time wasted, and I have twinges of regret here and there when I think about how much closer I could have been to certain goals by now.
This productivity tip was mentioned by Penelope Herbert in a previous article where 12 people shared their personal productivity tips. Here’s what she said:
I create deadlines for myself. Whether it’s writing, researching, creating images, brainstorming, etc., I allocate a time-frame. It could be as little as 30 minutes or the deadline could be the end of the day. This keeps me focused, productive, and on track with time management. It can also stop me over thinking something.
My Favorite Way Of Creating Deadlines
Challenges. I am addicted to challenges. Just thinking about entering a challenge gets me excited and makes me want to plan out how I am going to win the challenge.
I do a lot of 30-day challenges. I view them as short-term goals, because I create challenges that, put together, will help me reach my medium-term goals.
For instance, if I want to create a certain amount of success with a blog in a year, I will give that success a definite number and deadline. Then I will create medium-term goals, which are usually just half-way points to the long-term goals. Then I will create challenges to help me meet my medium-term goals. For Productive Schedule this month, my challenge was to publish a daily post. I started March 1st, and my deadline to create 31 posts is March 31st. It’s easy to stay motivated to do this challenge because I know what I have to do, when I have to do it by, and why I have to do it.
7 Tips For Creating And Keeping Deadline
A few thoughts about deadlines.
1. Write Them Down
You must write your deadlines down. Don’t try to keep them in your head because it’s easy to forget your deadlines, despite your amazing memory. It’s also easy to excuse not meeting a deadline if you don’t have it written down where you can constantly remind yourself of the time and date you set to get things done.
2. Keep Your Deadlines As Tight As Possible
I’ve found that it really pays to keep your deadlines as tight as possible. It helps you be as productive as possible. It’s a huge motivator to get things done now instead of later – or some other time.
For instance, while I’m challenging myself to put up a post every day this month on this website, I’m also making sure I finish writing it before noon. That way I have time to do the other things I need to do in my day, and I don’t drag out my writing for hours and hours until it’s almost too late.
Just don’t make deadlines unrealistic. If you can’t get something done in a day, for instance, don’t make the deadline for 24 hours. Make it for 48 or 62 or whatever number feels comfortable and realistic to you. If you are unsure, pick a deadline, test it out, and when you reach it, you will know if it’s a good deadline for you or not in that particular area and then you can tweak it.
3. Give Them Meaning
I’ve read some theories where longer deadlines fail to motivate, but I don’t find that to be true. What I’ve found is that the more meaning a deadline has to you, the more likely you will meet it – even if it’s a long time from now.
For instance, in one year, I want to be pulling in enough of an income that my husband can pursue other career options. He is not happy in his position or his career anymore. But we still need his paycheck to pay the bills. My goal is to help him find something he loves to do by being able to pay all the bills and more within one year. This deadline has a lot of meaning to me, so each day when I do something to meet that deadline, I do it with passion and enthusiasm.
So why do you want to meet your deadline? How will it impact your relationships, health, happiness, life plans, etc.? When you attach that meaning onto your deadline, you will be amazed at how much more driven you are to meet it.
4. Tell Other People
Do you really want to crush your deadlines? Tell other people about them.
When you tell other people about your deadlines, you feel more responsibility to meet them. Whether you don’t want to look like a failure in their eyes, or you want to match their deadlines, telling other people will hold you accountable and keep you motivated every step of the way.
For instance, my husband knows my deadline, and because it is something that affects him so much, he has been making his own plans with the same deadline. To not meet my deadline would be a huge disappointment to him, and I don’t want to see him disappointed.
5. Create Long-Term, Medium-Term, and Short-Term Deadlines
I really see deadlines as goals, so it’s clear to me that creating short-term deadlines that help you meet your medium-term deadlines can help you meet your long-term deadlines.
For instance, if you are a blogger, your deadlines may look like this…
- Short-term deadline: Finish writing post by noon daily.
- Medium-term deadline: Publish 31 posts by the end of this month.
- Long-term deadline: Publish over 200 posts.
6. Make The Action Clear
When you create a deadline, make sure the action is clear. If not, it could hinder your ability to get what you want. While most deadlines have a clear action required, some are not always that clear.
For instance, if you set a deadline to make $1000 in a month, you need to make sure you have actions in place that will help you reach that deadline. While you are taking action, you may be guided towards a different action, but if you don’t take any concrete action at all, you will skip around from one thing to another, never really accomplishing anything. That will make it hard to meet your deadline!
7. Collaborate With Other People
Lastly, if you have some serious deadlines in your future, and you aren’t sure how you are going to get there, collaborate with other people. Ask people for their input. Brainstorm with them. Get their help with something. Collaborate in a way that will help you reach your deadline on time.
For instance, if you are a blogger, MyBlogU is a great place to collaborate. There you can ask for people’s insight in the brainstorm area, interview people, and get help with articles. I’ve created some killer blog posts with the help of the people on MyBlogU and it took me very little time or effort, which helped me meet my deadlines quickly.
In college, study groups were important because they helped us work together to understand the material and ace the tests.
At home, my husband and I work together to meet deadlines we’ve set out for home renovations.
Sometimes two heads are better than one and can help you meet your deadlines easily.
If you know of any other places to collaborate with others or have other collaboration ideas, please share in the comments below.