Using Deadlines to Stay Productive

Jennifer Wilson

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July 17, 2012

This post from regular contributor Aaron Morris highlights a simple but effective technique I use every day to stay on track with my business and creative priorities. Make sure to leave a comment with your tip!

Deadlines

With all of the responsibilities in my life, I face deadlines almost everyday. There are deadlines for lesson plans, and deadlines for correcting. I have deadlines for the numerous committees I am on, and for the Creative Teams I am part of. Some weeks, I am running down a deadline almost every day. The thing is though, I don’t mind the deadlines. In fact, deadlines often make me more productive.

For people like me, who tend to procrastinate or let things slide, deadlines are the ulimate motivator. Even the sound of the word, “deadline”, evokes a sense of dread and urgency in me. I know that when I have a task that has a deadline, I better get that done because if I don’t meet that deadline, I’ll be in big trouble. The problem is, not all tasks come with a deadline. Those are the tasks that often slip by the wayside, the ones that never get done. I found a trick to keep those tasks from slipping through the cracks though. When I get a task that doesn’t have a deadline, I give it one.

Yes, you read that right, I set my own deadlines. Too many times have responsibilities and tasks slipped right off my to do list because they didn’t have a deadline. Tasks without a deadline seemed less important, I could keep pushing them back. Not any longer, now every time I get a task, I either record the deadline it has or I make one up. Usually, I give myself a few weeks to get the task done, but the important part is that I give it a deadline. Now, all of the tasks on my list seem of equal importance. Everthing has as time by which I need to get it done.

It’s worked, too. Now that I give each of my tasks a specific deadline, I find myself more likely to get things done and not push them off. Sure, I’ve slipped a few times and “reassigned” a new deadline to a task, but even those tasks eventually get done. There are only so many times I can push a task off before guilt gets the best of me. The bottom line is that this simple trick I play on my mind, helps me get everything I need to do done.

What tricks do you use to stay productive? If you don’t have any tricks, feel free to ask a question or share a productivity challenge you have.

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3 Comments

  1. Julie S

    I am SUCH a procrastinator. What help me is to make a list and post it where I’ll see it several times a day. I have a tendency to get easily distracted so this really helps rein me back in.

    Reply
  2. VintageRitz

    How do you remain accountable for your deadine? Since you set it, you can ignore it or break it even and no one is the wiser. Can you tell that I’ve faced this problem with myself? I found that I’m most successful when I both set a deadline AND make it public somehow, even if “public” is a commitment on the fridge door.

    Reply
  3. Aaron

    That is the trick, isn’t it? I try to stay true to me and keep to them, but there is always room for error. Like you, I also make them “public” in my google tasks so they are always staring at me.

    Reply

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