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How Deadlines Are Killing Our Productivity

Have you been working with deadlines all of your life? The harsh truth is that deadlines are killing your productivity. Today we are going to discover why deadlines are a big no no. If there are no deadlines, what could boost your productivity?

I’m not sure for you but deadlines are around in my life ever since I started schooling. I am always rushing for deadlines from my homework to projects all the way even when I am working at a corporate job. To be honest, I am very very afraid of the word KPI, key performance index. These 3 words send shivers down my spine and this is one of the reasons why I left my corporate jobs. I see KPI as a deadline to measure my worth and contribution to the company and if I want to keep my job, I better be hitting it. Ok this is not for me, it may work for some of you and I’m glad it is working for you so keep to it!

Going back to deadlines, I experienced the following when deadlines are set

  1. I don’t work on the task until the very last minute

  2. Creativity and Quality is missing in the task because of the last minute work

  3. I burn my nights just to complete the task

  4. I make mistakes, tons of it, trying to rush it

  5. Undesirable consequences when I burn my nights

  6. I am guilty for starting the task at last minute and promise to start working on future tasks earlier

  7. Starting earlier doesn’t happen

  8. The cycle repeats

Many people say they work better under the pressure of deadlines. With the years of research, it has indicated that this is seldom true. I’m not saying that deadlines are bad. But if we want to be successful and achieve the things that we aim for, we need a set of boundaries and a time estimation.

Following may happen when you are feeling under the pressure of deadlines. These are often self created through procrastination and delay.

  • Feel stress

  • Make mistakes

  • Redo more task

  • Take a longer time to complete it when rushing

  • More cost incurred

  • Financial losses in the long term

So if deadlines are a big no no, what could work? Let me share with you what works for me.

Every time when there is a task that needs me to do, I will jot it down with my Todoist App. Big small important or not, the task is in. If there are times when I fail to do that particular task, it is because it is not in my master task list. Everyday when I plan my day or even before I start my day, I refer to the task sheet and I am reminded of my priorities and task. I leave major tasks on days when I can have a full day on the computer because these kinds of days don't come often. During these days, besides clearing all the urgent work, I make sure I am making progress on future tasks. Future tasks meant that they will be due 1-2 months later. By starting the task, it gives me momentum to finish the task way before it is due and IT FEELS REALLY GOOD.

The problem with deadlines is they make us procrastinate. They let us think we got so much time ahead and this momentum of starting the task is missing. The solution is to overcome the inertia and get it started whether the task is due in a month or two months.

Here are some ways to get it going

  1. Write down every single thing you need to do (trust me, it will slip your mind if you don’t write it down)

  2. Review your task list regularly

  3. Have a mental or physical plan on how many micro tasks are required to complete that one task

  4. Kick start the momentum even if you think it is too early to start

  5. See it to completion and celebrate because you are way earlier than your deadline

Make a change in how you tackle your work today and see how your life changes.

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©2020 by Patrina Chan.

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