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Friday, January 27, 2023

Setting & Meeting Deadlines

Would setting deadlines backfire on your productivity or actually be helpful?

What is your relationship with deadlines? Do they make you nervous and put you in a crippling state of dread or do they make you angry and cause you to rebel against them out of spite? Are they unreasonably tight? Or so loose that you will sleep on them?

See, deadlines are not the enemy, they don’t exist solely to intimidate you or steal your freedom. They can propel you into achieving what you otherwise wouldn’t, which can be rewarding. But you have to be mindful of how and when you set them so you won’t be compelled to sabotage progress toward them.

If you set them in a way that you know (subconsciously or not) that you’re setting yourself up for failure and all the unpleasant thoughts and feelings that come with it, they might not sit right. Furthermore, if they’re prioritizing tasks that shouldn’t be prioritized, they might not sit right either.

So, when setting deadlines for your work and aspirations, ask yourself:

Should I be setting a deadline for this? How urgent is it? Does this deadline allow me enough time to properly work on what I must? Is it close enough to drive me into action? If I fail to meet it, am I giving myself permission to move it and try again?

If you’re artistic, chances are you suffer from one or more of the following:

- Depression
- Anxiety
- Mood Swings
- Perfectionism

And this would make setting and meeting deadlines extra challenging. Therefore, you must look for ways in which deadlines would work well for you, in particular, rather than imposing deadlines on yourself as though you optimally function in their favor even though you don’t.

Maybe you need to give yourself more time. Maybe less time. Maybe make them so they can be moved one or more times.

And sometimes, it’s best to be quite generous with them. Give yourself 3 months, or 6 months, or a whole year if that’s merited. If it’s something big, or difficult, or hard, or uncertain.

Alright, so how do you do it?
Get yourself a calendar, or a planner, or what have you, and put the deadlines down where you can see them and be reminded of them constantly. Even if you believe you have an excellent memory and can skip this, don’t. It will serve you better to have them jotted down. Then you’ll have to see how well you do and make adjustments accordingly.

More likely than not, you will fail plenty of times until you get it right. But don’t let that discourage you. This is also an exercise in getting to know yourself and how you best operate - in this case, with deadlines.