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How to Make Deadlines Less Stressful and More Motivational

Turn deadlines into a game

It is naturally harder for us to concentrate on a task or measure progress on a project when we're bored.

To overcome this, turn the task into a game and include rewards, to make it more fun and motivating. 

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IDEA EXTRACTED FROM:

How to Make Deadlines Less Stressful and More Motivational

How to Make Deadlines Less Stressful and More Motivational

https://zapier.com/blog/deadlines-motivation/

zapier.com

6

Key Ideas

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.

Set more urgent deadlines

If you lack motivation and don't manage to meet your deadlines, try to set a more pressing deadline for yourself. This will give you a sense of urgency to complete the task.

Share your goals and progress

While we recognize our own procrastination and try to curb it via self-imposed deadlines, these aren't always as effective as deadlines set for them by others.

If you don't have a boss or project sponsor who's setting deadlines for you, it might be worth asking someone to become your accountability partner.

Turn deadlines into a game

It is naturally harder for us to concentrate on a task or measure progress on a project when we're bored.

To overcome this, turn the task into a game and include rewards, to make it more fun and motivating. 

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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 person...

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.

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...

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. 

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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Albert Einstein

“We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements of life, when all that we need to make us happy ..."

Albert Einstein
The Dip
Across language learning, company building, and any kind of creative project, there is a dip. The Dip is the long stretch between beginner’s luck and real accomplishment.
Extraordinary benefits accrue to the tiny minority of people who are able to push just a tiny bit longer than most.
The Start before the Dip
In any goal that has to be accomplished, there is a Start. It usually gets overlooked, as it's always there. 
The Start is a much bigger problem since you can’t reach The Dip if you don’t get through The Start, and many more people fantasize about doing something than actually do it and give up.

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Setting your own deadlines

Create artificial deadlines for yourself. Understand that you can save yourself a load of stress by acting as if something is due earlier than it actually is.

Mentally, this creat...

Leveraging help

If you are worried others will view you as inept if you ask for help, you most likely will procrastinate, and even more pressure will build up, as the deadline rapidly approaches. 

You can reduce this by leaving your ego at the door and simply asking others for help. Another way to get help from others is to ask for an extension - it can make a world of difference in the way you feel. But don't abuse this. 

Trim the fat

Multitasking and directing your energy to unimportant tasks and activities will overwhelm and prevent you from being productive.

Focus on your 3 to 5 ...

Measure your results

To assist you with measuring results instead of time, keep done lists to feel more motivated and focused.

Have an attitude adjustment

We are more effective at work when we have a positive attitude. 

good attitude at work will help you set standards for your work and ensure that you're taking responsibility for yourself.

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When you’re feeling overwhelmed

You have so many things going on, that it is hard to concentrate on any one of them, and so you get less productive. The trick is to get yourself back in the sweet spot of the curve where yo...

Reduce your energy

If you’re actively feeling overwhelmed you first need to calm downClose your eyes for a minute. Focus on breathing deeply. Count your breaths. An alternative is to get a little physical exercise. Take a walk.

The combination of the exercise and the separation from your workspace for a short period of time can help you to get into the zone to get work done.

Focus

Start by finding a high-priority task that you feel you can complete in a short period of time. Clear the decks for action and put away any other distractions.

Now, get to work. If you’re still having trouble concentrating, then just try to get a 5-10 minute burst of activity done. Find the smallest piece of the task that you can accomplish and get that done. 

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Track and limit your time spent

Only around 17 % of people are able to accurately estimate the passage of time. 

Using the right tool can help by letting you know exactly how...

Take regular breaks

Taking scheduled breaks can actually help improve concentration. 

Some research has shown that taking short breaks during long tasks helps you to maintain a constant level of performance.

Set self-imposed deadlines

A manageable level of self-imposed stress can actually be helpful in terms of giving us focus and helping us meet our goals. 

For open-ended tasks or projects, try giving yourself a deadline, and then stick to it. 

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The Zeigarnik Effect

Unfinished work continues to exert an influence, even when we try to move on to other things.

When you start working on something but do not finish it, thoughts of the unfinished work ...

The Zeigarnik effect and memory

It reveals a great deal about how memory works. Zeigarnik suggested that failing to complete a task creates underlying cognitive tension. This results in greater mental effort and rehearsal in order to keep the task at the forefront of awareness. Once completed, the mind is then able to let go of these efforts.

You can even use this psychological phenomenon to your advantage.

Get More Out of Your Study Sessions
  • Break up your study sessions rather than try to cram it all in the night before the test. By studying information in increments, you will be more likely to remember it until test day.
  • If you are struggling to memorize something important, momentary interruptions might actually work to your advantage. While you are focusing on other things, you will find yourself mentally returning to the information you were studying.

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Excuse-making

It's a defense mechanism you use in the battle between your positive self-identity and the common challenges of everyday life.

This habit comes down to an inherent need to protect your...

The self-serving bias

It encourages you to claim your successes and to deflect your failures.

When something good happens, you take the credit, but when something bad happens, you blame it on something out of your control.

Common types of excuses
  • Lies: This is one of the worst types of excuses—a straight-up lie.
  • Self-handicapping excuses: Such as “I don’t have the skills to do that”, or “That’s not my job.”
  • Blame-shifting excuses: Instead of putting the blame on your lack of abilities, you accuse external factors for your missteps or lack of performance.

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Delegation as a solution for work overload

If you work on your own, there's only a limited amount that you can do, however hard you work.

One of the most common ways of overcoming this limitation is to learn how to delegate ...

5 key questions...

...to determine when delegation is appropriate:

  • Is there someone else who has (or can be given) the necessary information/ expertise to complete the task? 
  • Does the task provide an opportunity to grow and develop another person's skills?
  • Is this a task that will recur, in a similar form, in the future?
  • Do you have enough time to delegate the job effectively? 
  • Is this a task that I should delegate? 
Factors to consider when delegating
  • The experience, knowledge and skills of the individual as they apply to the delegated task, including the time need to provide training, if necessary
  • The individual's preferred work style
  • The current workload of this person: consider if the person has enough time to take on more work and how this affects other responsabilities.

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