In Praise of Deadlines

Do you consider yourself a procrastinator?  Interestingly, most people do.  Even though I teach time management and productivity, that’s no guarantee that I won’t succumb to the lure of on-line Sudoku in spite of my beautifully prioritized to-do list.

Recently, I had two tasks that I just couldn’t get started on.  I got everything else done but still couldn’t get started on those two.  When I ran out of time-wasters, I even did some productive things that weren’t on my list, just to put off those two big tasks.

One of them had a deadline that was imposed on me, and the other had a deadline I had imposed on myself because it made the most sense for my business.  Both were due at the end of the first week in January.

What finally got me started?  The looming deadlines.  When the holidays ended and the world got back to serious pursuits on January 4, I realized that my time was up.  If I didn’t put in some focused time on both of those projects, I would miss the due dates.

I broke the tasks down into small chunks and alternated between the two throughout the week.  As usual, once I got the ball rolling, I found that I was able to finish them with more ease than I had suspected.  I ended up being very satisfied with the quality of both.  Yet I was annoyed with myself for having escalated them into crisis mode.

If those tasks hadn’t had deadlines, I might be putting them off still!

Do you have tasks or projects that you have been putting off?  If the task comes with a deadline, be grateful!  Figure out exactly what needs to get done, and then plan it out in your calendar so that you meet the due date.  Break it down into small pieces to ensure daily progress.

If you don’t have a deadline, then give some thought to why this task is important to you, and when it makes sense for you to complete it.  Perhaps you are putting it off because this isn’t really the right time for you to be doing it.

But if this really is the right time, impose a deadline on yourself and use the same technique I described above for accomplishing something that has a due date that is not of your choosing.  Make sure you honor your commitments to yourself as much as you honor your commitments to others.

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