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Three Simple Rules For Managing Deadlines

https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescommunicationscouncil/2019/04/01/three-simple-rules-for-managing-deadlines/

forbes.com

Three Simple Rules For Managing Deadlines
When things get busy at work, we can sometimes get lazy about deadlines. We neglect to set them at all. We are vague about them. Or we cut to the chase by saying we need things "right away," "soon," or "ASAP."

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Procrastination Paradox

The more time we are given to complete a task, the longer we will take to do it. 

This is similar to Parkinson’s Law, which states that “work expands so as to fill the time availab...

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Urgency Bias

Urgency Bias

When we are facing multiple deadlines, we often tend to focus on the tasks in front of us rather than the ones that seem far off, regardless of how important they might be. 

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Planning Fallacy

The farther away a deadline, the more unrealistic and abstracted our planning becomes. The closer a deadline, the more focussed and productive we become.

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Self-Imposed Vs External

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Prioritize deadlines

 ... based on importance, not time. 

Prioritize your projects based on importance first, and your employees will use Parkinson’s Law and urgency bias to their best advanta...

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Communicate consequences and payoffs

Mention the impact and positive results of completing the assignment. Employees will have more meaning and purpose to overcome procrastination.

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Cultivate trust

Employees will be more motivated into staying on top of deadlines if managers set a good example by being consistent, supportive and trustworthy.  

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Start right away

We get so caught up in researching and thinking about a project that the anxiety to create something great can build up. 

Start immediately. You can even make small amounts of progress every day. Eventually you’ll get there.

Focus

If you have a few projects at a time, focus on one. Work with intense focus. Do not allow distractions.

When you feel your motivation slows down, switch to another project.

Prioritize

If we are just ticking things off our to-do list without any order, the important tasks may not get completed.

Determine the urgency of your tasks to figure out which requires priority. 

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Why deadlines are effective

Why deadlines are effective
  • They can reduce the likelihood that you will procrastinate.
  • They help make your goals feel more concrete, by attaching them to a specific timeline.
  • They help you pursue your goals and complete tasks in a timely manner by serving as a precommitment device.
  • They can also help you get things done on time by providing you with structure.

How to set effective deadlines

  • Deadlines should be concrete. You are much more likely to abide by concrete deadlines.
  • Deadlines should be realistic. When choosing a deadline for a task, you should pick one that gives you a sufficient amount of time to complete the task.
  • Deadlines should be meaningful. You should make sure that you can’t just ignore your deadlines, and that there is some motivation for you to adhere to it.

Deadlines aren’t a perfect solution

Though deadlines can often help you avoid procrastinating, research also shows that they don’t always work, and there are situations where increased flexibility can be better, in terms of personal productivity.

As such, you should always assess the situation at hand, in order to determine whether setting deadlines will help you or not.

Set multiple deadlines

A way to create less stressful deadlines is to break large projects into smaller tasks. Set a deadline for each task instead of just one final deadline. 

Regularly spacing the deadlines out will give a sense of moving forward, which can motivate you to complete the task.

Yerkes-Dodson law

The Yerkes-Dodson law states that the more mental arousal there is in doing a task, the more efficient a person becomes. After you get to a certain threshold, your performance begins to decrease.

An appropriate quantity of stress should inspire increased productivity.

Your ideal stress level

Difficult tasks require low levels of stress, while easy tasks require high levels of stress to trigger mental arousal.

The next time you set a deadline, try placing a rush deadline for easier tasks and set your deadline far out for more difficult projects.