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Self-Imposed Deadlines: Do They Work?


If you're anything like me, you've struggled with getting things done. Over time I've tried different methods and approaches to complete tasks efficiently, with varying degrees of procrastination, I've found deadlines to be an initially intimidating yet impactful method to be more productive and focused.


Finding it difficult to get things done efficiently? You're not alone.

As someone who's constantly trying to improve my productivity, I've tried many methods and strategies to help me get things done efficiently. After all, who doesn't want to get more done in less time?

So why do we still find it difficult to get things done? Setting deadlines can be effective in helping us stay on track, but we can easily fall into the trap of spending more time on a task than necessary because of the seemingly never-ending distractions like social media, emails, or sports news (pick your poison).

A good way to start is by making sure that you're setting realistic expectations for yourself based on what you know about your current capabilities as well as how much time each task requires. This of course comes with experience and if you are working on a project basis, things like revisions can take away a vast sum of time. Keeping time intentionally free for these distractions can remove the guilt of rushing to send over a half-finished project. We all know life will get in the way, so why not keep time free for the inevitable tasks that will come up.


Why would I make deadlines for myself, wouldn't that make things worse?

If you're someone who struggles with deadlines, imposing some of your own might be just the way to get things done. Set reasonable deadlines that will help you get more work done in a shorter amount of time, no one knows you as well as you know yourself, set deadlines to suit you and how you work best.

Setting reasonable expectations for yourself can help you stay focused on getting things done efficiently without feeling pressured by external sources such as bosses or clients who may demand specific due dates and times from you. Getting into the habit of setting time to complete a task, and a deadline to have it finished, may just be the way for you to get more done in less time.


The lesser-known benefits of setting and sticking to deadlines

Setting self-imposed deadlines can lead to benefits that aren't immediately obvious. While it's true that they may help you finish your work on time, there are some other advantages of this technique:

  • You will have more energy to focus on your work, not on scrambling to figure out what needs to be done. You will have improved clarity and freedom from doubt regarding what needs to be done and why.

  • You will have more time to relax and do things that take your mind off work if you give yourself necessary breaks - like taking a walk or having lunch with friends.



Set goals for the real you - not the Instagram you

We all have days filled with energy and feel we can achieve anything, and some days that feel like getting out of bed is a monumental effort. It's important when setting goals to recognise that we won't feel our best all of the time, take this into account and give yourself the time and space to be human, not a productivity machine.

Don't let failure define you, things get in the way and things go wrong and that is ok. If you don't get something done in time, firstly recognise why this happened and reflect on it, try to amend this for a future deadline and over time, you'll know your shortfalls and be able to recognise this and improve. Try to set deadlines that are initially inconsequential, so they can be moved if necessary, this means you can fail without the added stress of letting someone else down.



I hope this article has given you some insight into why deadlines might be helpful and how to set them effectively. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below! Thanks for reading!


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