How to Use Deadlines Effectively to Make Your Productivity Soar
The first quarter deadline is behind us and we’ve analyzed our progress. We know what worked, what didn’t, and we’ve made peace with the past. Now it’s time to set our eyes forward, roll up our sleeves and get to work.
To help you have a victory at the end of each month I’m going to highlight some resources you can use to help you stay focused and “get it done.” This week I’m talking deadlines.
Recently I was on an accountability call which was the wrap-up to the current mastermind I am participating in. We were each asked to share where we were now, from where we were six months ago, and what made a difference for us.
For me the answer was clear. For me the second half of the program was much more effective than the first half, and the difference was in the second half I had hard deadlines that motivated me to stay focused and diligent.
I have always been a fan of goals and milestones. They are the inspiration and motivation for most of the work that I do. Deadlines are what turbo-charge my progress.
The Difference Between Deadlines
There are two different types of deadlines and you have to be aware of how you perceive each because these can work for you, or against you.
A soft deadline is one that you manage for yourself. You pick a date you want a task completed or a goal reached, you place it on a calendar and you monitor your own progress.
A hard deadline is one that makes or breaks you. It is a deadline you share publicly and if you don’t meet it you risk something valuable.
For me, the hard deadlines at the end of my mastermind participation had my reputation and credibility on the line. If I did not meet those deadlines I would have been perceived as any combination of unreliable, incapable, disinterested or unorganized. My reputation is too valuable for me to tarnish, and so as the hard deadline approached I became increasingly focused and driven.
Choosing the Deadline that is Right for You
How are you motivated? What is so valuable to you that you would not slack off and risk its loss? In the times of your greatest achievements what was your motivation?
You may not work well in high-pressured situations. You may find soft deadlines are what work best for your personality and work style. Or, you may find soft deadlines to be negotiable and movable and so they do not hold much weight for you.
If you don’t know give it a test; try one or the other to see how you respond. My advice if you are trying soft deadlines is to monitor it for some time. There is a chance these may be hard deadlines in disguise because you are trying to prove to yourself that you can achieve your goals without the use of a hard deadline.
If you are testing hard deadlines make sure you have put something valuable at risk. If there is no risk to missing the deadline you’ve actually got a soft deadline in play.
Be clear on why each deadline is important. We often push things off because shiny objects that appear as more urgent take over our time. However, if you take a step back you may find that your deadline is an integral piece of a larger picture that is of more importance than any “fire” you are being asked to put out.
Keep your tasks in perspective to make sure you are focusing on the things that actually need YOUR attention and not those things that can wait or be handled by some other capable person.
If you’d like to add anything, or list another reason why someone might be falling behind on their goals, I’m sure the Luma community would be very appreciative! Just add your suggestion into the comment section below.
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Thank you so much, and here’s to your success!