Always Set a Deadline

Posted on Mar 7, 2014

A deadline is a crucial part of achieving any outcome you are seeking from yourself or others.

Now I know this seems like very basic advice, but deadlines are often not implemented as frequently or as well as they could be.

Here are some key things to remember:

It creates an urgency – which basically means that it helps you focus on getting the job done! Think of it this way – if you were sitting an exam tomorrow, I bet you’d be cramming to fit in the study tonight.

It can be used with every task – whether it’s a big project or a small item (like paying some bills or responding to an email) a deadline will help you get it done. I’m sure you’ve found that even a 10 minute task can sometimes stretch over a longer period of time (if you let it). Set a time challenge for yourself on even the smallest tasks and you’ll achieve a lot more in less time. And don’t forget to “high five” yourself when you rise to the challenge!

It can prevent miscommunication – without a deadline, people will assume for themselves when a task should be completed. This is understandable as we all have different priorities, however, in addition to clarifying what needs to be done, make sure you confirm a date and time for completion (and again this applies to the small tasks too).

It can be used for performance management – to effectively manage your staff you need to followup on the deadlines you set for them, confirm the item has been completed, address any delays and reschedule as needed. If you don’t do this you will risk creating the impression that deadlines are not really important and they will lose their effectiveness as a result.

It can be rescheduled and still be effective – if you have to reschedule a deadline, don’t beat yourself up about it and don’t let this setback steal your momentum. A new deadline can equally achieve the outcome – even if it’s delayed slightly.

It can be fun – setting deadlines can seem restrictive and feel like a whole lot of work, so consider some ways to make them more fun. For example, reward yourself and/or your staff once a major deadline is achieved and do this even for small tasks (when it just involves you). One of the ways I get myself to do items like the monthly accounts, is to tell myself I can sit down with a coffee and my favourite magazine if I complete them by…. If you’re in an office you could even set time challenges and rewards for each other. And don’t forget that achieving whatever you have set the deadline for, is also a very good feeling!

Deadlines are an important part of achieving and progressing forward in your business and your life.

Set them, adhere to them and you will achieve plenty as a result!