Even the word itself makes you cringe.
And even though we encounter these regularly, a lot of us either struggle with meeting deadlines or put ourselves through a lot of stress in the process.
So why are deadlines so stressful?
There are usually three reasons why:
- It was set by an external party on the spot without considering how long it may take or what you currently have on your plate.
- You have set the deadlines yourself, but underestimated the amount of time it would take.
- One single deadline was set for a large or long-term project.
Although we may not be able to easily change deadlines set externally, we can work on how we approach self-imposed deadlines, using the strategies below.
Don’t rely on just one deadline
You may have already heard this before in some form or another, but in order to minimise procrastination and motivate yourself to complete a large task, it’s always best to break it down into small achievable chunks.
When it comes to large tasks like these you want to avoid one big deadline. Instead, break it down and create multiple deadlines for smaller tasks. This alleviates the pressure of that one large deadline and motivates you to keep going, since it allows you to see how far you’ve progressed.
Make your deadlines more urgent
This may seem counterintuitive to what we’re trying to achieve, but it may actually reduce procrastination and increase motivation, which will overall help you win those deadline battles.
Tasks with longer deadlines could be perceived as more difficult and hence make us procrastinate, whereas shorter deadlines create a sense of urgency which makes us more motivated to complete that task.
Collaborate with others to share goals and progress
Accountability in itself can be used as a tool to motivate you to achieve your tasks. Most of us will be accountable to our boss or direct manager, but if that’s still causing you to procrastinate and miss deadlines, then why not create a group of your own where you can discuss upcoming tasks and what you are going to achieve in the next week.
In fact, some people work better in competitive environments, so setting up something like a leaderboard where everyone can see where they stand, could be even more effective!
Turn it into a game
For those that still struggle with finding the motivation to meet your deadlines, then why not try gamification?
Gamification is when you turn tasks or activities into something like a game.
There’s a neat little app that has done this called Habitica, where you can enter all your tasks and when completed, earns you points and experience. These can then be exchanged for rewards or upgrades to your avatar character.
Surprisingly, the common thread in all of these strategies is not to eliminate stress. As much as we dislike stress, we all have that sweet spot that gets us working at our optimum level. Achieving that balance using the above strategies can help us in becoming more productive and meet our deadlines in a healthier way, rather than experiencing things like burn out.