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25 May

How to meet your deadlines with ease

Datum: 2023-05-25 09:30
A woman's hands typing on a laptop keyboard in a light office setting. She wears a light blue blouse.

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.

Do this

  1. 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
  2. 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?
  3. 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.
  4. 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?

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