“Deadline” is a much-dreaded term when it comes to working. The mere mention of a deadline can instil a sense of stress, urgency, and anxiety in everyone. However, there is a reason deadlines are so important in almost every company. They can be beneficial to motivate you and push you to get work done. In this article, we will share why deadlines are so important to everyone’s work, as well as how you can make deadlines work for you so that you can consistently meet deadlines without the mental toll.
Deadlines make Parkinson’s law work for you
Parkinson’s Law is a famous observation that says work will expand to fill the time allotted. It was first coined by C. N. Parkinson in 1955 in an essay he wrote for the Economist to talk about the inefficiency of bureaucracy, but it became famous because it can be true for almost any type of work. Think about it: when you give yourself an hour to do a task, you will complete it in one hour. But if you allow a week to work on that same task, it will drain away all your time and mental energy during that whole week.
So why are deadlines important? Everyone loves to procrastinate and drag out simple tasks, as Parkinson observed, so setting deadlines is an important step to frame your tasks within a specified timeline, forcing you to work more efficiently within this timeframe. When you allow the appropriate time frame to do a task and complete this task by the assigned deadline, Parkinson’s Law is working for you and preventing you from dragging out small tasks forever.
Deadlines are structures that help you make the most of your time
Deadlines can implement a sense of structure to your day, week, or month. Deadlines break down your time into smaller chunks and push you forward. Setting deadlines for yourself can be an efficient way to set milestones that you want to hit in order to complete a project. Setting SMART goals (which stands for Specific – Measurable – Achievable – Relevant – Time-bound) to accompany those deadlines can also be beneficial to help you consistently meet deadlines and thrive.
When you set deadlines for yourself, it is important that you meet those deadlines as if they were set by other people. Holding yourself accountable is the only way that this method will work, and it will stop you from further procrastinating. Depending on your situation, you can communicate your deadlines to others, including your coworkers, boss, or even significant other, so that they can keep you accountable as well. Consistently meeting deadlines, even the ones that you set for yourself, will help you make the best of your time and push you forward in your career.
Deadlines help you visualise the steps to finish a project
When you have a big project, the confusion of not knowing where to start can be a cause of stress, which leads to procrastination and more frustration further down the road. Breaking this big project into small, achievable milestones with specific deadlines can help you visualise the steps to finish the project.
If you think about making the “Marking Year-end Report”, of course, it is a huge project that requires substantial time and commitment. However, if you break it down into small tasks, including “download all data by Wednesday” or “summarise all campaigns by next Friday”, they can seem much more achievable and manageable. Breaking down a project into small tasks and assigning a specific deadline for each task are necessary planning steps that will also take off the stress because you already know a systematic and manageable way to complete the big, intimidating project.
Deadlines discipline and motivate you
When you work from home, it can be tempting to slack off and leave work to the last minute. Working outside of the work environment without anyone holding you accountable and the lack of professional etiquette and working structure can be a pitfall for everyone who first starts remote working. There are many tips to help you become more efficient while working from home, but the most effective one is setting hard deadlines for yourself and consistently meeting those deadlines.
Deadlines are important tools to discipline and motivate you to get things done, so you will not be distracted by the home environment and neglect work. Deadlines can be a great disciplinarian to keep you on task and motivate you when you feel distracted.
When you miss a deadline, do not feel discouraged or defeated. Instead, reflect on your schedule to understand the factors that affected your abilities to meet deadlines, and adjust them accordingly. For example, if you are setting an impossible deadline for yourself, you are setting yourself up to fail, and you need to adjust your expectations accordingly to make your deadlines work for you, instead of defeating you. When you meet a deadline and check off a milestone in your diary, you can feel a sense of accomplishment and be more motivated to meet the next deadline.
Deadlines show progress
If you think of deadlines as important milestones in your month or year, deadlines are a great way to reflect on how you spent your time and recognise your progress. The end of the year is a time for reflection and gratitude, and reviewing your deadlines will help you understand more about your achievements at work.
At the end of this year, take some time to review your diary and calendar and take a look at all of your deadlines to understand all the things you have accomplished during the year. This time of reflection will help you gain more gratitude towards work and learn about your progress during the year, which will help you set career goals for the next year and the steps you can take to achieve those goals. This reflection is much-needed to help you wrap up a year of work and feel accomplished for all the deadlines that you have met and projects that you’ve finished!