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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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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The Easily Distracted

Getting sidetracked by minor concerns and are never quite able to bring the focus that you need to larger projects.

What to do: Build extra time when planning your projects. Also, physically block out distractions, like by isolating yourself, turning your desk to face the wall rather than the doorway or using noise-canceling headphones to help keep you focused.

Delegate or Outsource Tasks
  • Find to the right person: he should have all the necessary skills and is capable of doing the job
  • Provide clear instructions: write down the tasks in a step-by-step manual be as specific as possible
  • Define success: be specific about what the expected outcome is and the deadline to have the task completed
  • Clarity: have the tasks explained back to you and offer clarification when something is unclear, rewriting the specifications if needed