deadlines keep you alive

December 31, 2010

Deadlines. The simple concept of a deadline immediately provokes negative emotions: they remind us of work, school or financial obligations. Nobody wants to work to a deadline right? We complain endlessly if our deadlines are too short or too difficult, but guess what? They work.

It’s human nature that, having the choice, we simply wouldn’t do those frustrating tasks or jobs that need doing if we didn’t have to. An extrapolation of that is our tendency to delay completing a task until it is completely necessary, or to complete a task slowly if we know the time is available. If a project needs to be completed in a few months time, we will take a few months to complete it, even if it could be done in a week. Deadlines force you to be more productive, they force you to work harder, and consequently they are an extremely useful tool.

Personal deadlines are something that I use all the time, whether in business or elsewhere. That is, deadlines which I set for myself, without necessarily telling anyone else about them. If I have some element of a project that I’ve been putting off, I set myself a deadline for it, and I inevitably end up getting it done in that time. I created this amazing diagram to illustrate what I mean, you can thank me later.

As you can no doubt now see, due to my delightfully oversimplified graph, the closer you are to a deadline, the more productive you will be. If you set a personal deadline for yourself that is shorter than the time you would otherwise have taken, your productivity will inevitably increase.

In short, setting deadlines for yourself means that you will become more productive, work harder, and get everything done faster: leaving more time for the things you love to do.

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4 Responses to “deadlines keep you alive”

  1. ClemCaza said

    Just true!
    Nice blog and really interesting articles!

  2. andre said

    Without deadlines, I don’t think, I would get anything done.

  3. plamenv said

    I wish it was as easy as that. Real deadlines work because there is some external factor taking place. For example, you get fired by your boss if you don’t put that important report on his desk by tomorrow. Or you’ll be embarrassed if you don’t keep the delivery deadline you’ve promised to a client.

  4. brianwillis said

    There’s actually a name for what you’re trying to describe in this post. It’s called Parkinson’s Law (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parkinsons_Law), and it states that “work expands to fill the time available.”

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