How to meet your deadlines with ease
Datum: 2023-05-25 09:30
“I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.” — Douglas Adams
When we wish to ensure that something gets done, one strategy is to set a deadline by which time the task is to be completed. It might concern something we will deliver to someone else or something we want someone else to do for us. But some deadlines appear to whoosh by faster than others.
For you who prefer listening to reading, this post is also available as an episode of the “Done!” podcast:
If you have ever prioritized a task because someone else was crying out for it or perhaps was even angry that it was not completed yet, then you will probably have prioritized one deadline before another because it specifically regarded delivering something to someone else, and I bet the deadline you choose to neglect was one you set for yourself.
Weakness turned to strength
Does this sound familiar? Excellent! Because you see, that means we have a marvelous tool at our disposal, a trick if you will, that will aid us in getting certain things done and which we can use in our favor if doing so consciously. If you have something you really want to get done on time, then set a deadline for the task and involve other people by promising someone that you will report, deliver or show them part of your progress as an incentive to get it done.
- Take a look at your to-do-list and your project overview. Do they contain something which you really want to get done soon and which you have been procrastinating for longer than you should? Choose one or a few items and set a clear deadline, meaning that you formulate what you will complete by when and in what format
- Think about who you could involve in getting the task or tasks done and meeting your deadline:
- Will you tell everyone about it during the next management team meeting?
- Will you send the client the first sketch on the 23rd of every month?
- Will you have made enough progress so that you have three in-depth questions to ask your business acquaintance when you have lunch together on the first Tuesday of next month?
- Will you tell your colleague how far you have gotten on Friday?
- So far so good. But wait, you are not done yet. Tell the person or people you are involving that you will report back to them, show them, ask, send or whatever you intend to do whenever you have determined to do so.
- Congratulations. You have now made it easier to stick to your deadline, because I assume you will not want to tell the people you involved that ”Sorry, I didn’t have time” or ”I didn’t finish”.
Promising someone else makes your priority more pressing
If you agree with someone that you will deliver something to them on the set deadline, even if it is only information, the deadline will appear more important and obtain a higher priority than it otherwise might. More tasks will get done and you will make progress in more of your projects sooner since you will be postponing and procrastinating less.
Sure, you could get the same effect by putting pressure on yourself without involving others. But if you tend to push yourself a little too hard, then lower your ambitions and strive to complete fewer things and set fewer deadlines. That way you will take the deadlines you do set more seriously.
What is your way?
How do you make sure to take the deadlines you set for yourself seriously? Surely there are more tricks than this. Tell me about yours!
(By the way, for some tasks, setting approximate deadlines might be the best choice.)
Want more ideas like this?
If you want more tips on how to create good structure at work, there are many ways to get that from me - in podcasts, videos, books, talks and other formats.