Setting Self-Imposed Deadlines: A Key To Getting What You Want


Deadlines. The word itself can sometimes fill you with dread and anxiety. Whether you love deadlines or not, there is one thing true about them—they provide you with a whole lot of motivation. 

There is nothing like a pending project that’s due tomorrow to keep you up and inspired all night. Deadlines help you stay focused on the task that needs to be done. They help you in managing the expectations of others and of yourself.

However, deadlines are not as daunting as people see it. Of course, there will be risks when you don’t meet them. Your boss might just fire you. A disappointed client might tell her friends not to hire you for future projects. Some coworkers may resent you. And so you push yourself to meet the deadline and fulfill everyone’s expectations. 

However, when you set deadlines for yourself, it seems you end up being too lenient. You up your deadline for this week, but you move it next week and then another week with a bunch of excuses you made yourself. 

Setting goals and expectations for yourself is a must. Stick to your self-imposed deadlines and start meeting goals as soon as you can. But how do you do it?

Here are simple tips to help you get started:

Tip 1: Appreciate the mini-milestones

Whenever you set goals for yourself, you may be overly ambitious. You begin by putting together lofty objectives. And while it may be a good thing to be stern and focused when setting goals for yourself, these expectations can become a bit overwhelming when you look into the progress you are making. 

Be kind to yourself, and take notice of the small milestones that you can achieve. When you break down large tasks into smaller, more doable tasks, the whole project becomes easy. For example, if you have set your mind to write a book, start by writing one chapter at a time. Then, allow yourself to rest for a bit before you proofread everything. 

When you can break down large ambitions into smaller milestones, you are making the whole project manageable. Not only will it mean getting started on the project, but it also means being able to beat the deadline with plenty of time.

Tip 2: Be accountable for your work

When setting a deadline for yourself, make sure to tell someone about it. Doing so will help you be more accountable for the work that you do or do not do. Bring someone in to the mix and find yourself an accountability partner. They will help you in managing expectations of yourself.

When working with a partner, you are not only responsible for yourself, but to that person as well. Make sure to tell your partner to check up on you and the progress of the project. This will make sure that you are not procrastinating and waiting for the last minute to actually act on it. 

If personal accountability is not enough to motivate you, keep someone else in the know about your project. Having someone support you will give you enough of a confidence boost to get you going. 

Tip 3: Set the deadline

The truth about deadlines is that they work much better when you are only given days to meet them. The more it scares you, the more effective it becomes. Whenever the deadline you have set for yourself is intimidating, you begin to see how crucial it is to meet it. 

Instead of setting a deadline for weeks or months in the future, make the days count. It subconsciously helps you feel that sense of urgency.

When you put the deadline in days, you will see how much it will affect your productivity. It helps you keep distractions low, so you can focus on achieving it. 

Tip 4: Build-up the urgency

While you don’t want to get too ambitious with the project you are working on, you need to build an inner sense of urgency. Don’t give yourself too much liberty in terms of time, and push yourself to work within the restricted time-frame. When you keep pushing things far away, you will end up being too lax. 

The mini-milestones should definitely be celebrated as they help keep you motivated. However, you also have to think this: the more time you give yourself that you don’t really need, the more you are pushing yourself to procrastinate. Transform your life with self-imposed deadlines and see for yourself how good your life can be. 

Tip 5: Establish rewards and punishments

If it seems as if completing the task is not enough to keep you motivated, allow yourself to establish a reward and punishment scheme. Sometimes, this little extra that you impose on yourself will keep pushing you forward.

The rewards and punishment system that you put in place will help you keep your focus. Some people respond better to rewards while others get their high on the consequences. It would be best if you determined what works best for you. 

The rewards don’t need to be significant. The consequences, however, need to be serious. Find out what inspires you (both the negative and the positive aspects) and help yourself finish the project you started. 

Learning how to achieve your goals and dreams through your self-imposed deadlines will leave you motivated. When you know what makes you tick and what keeps your spirits up, you will soon discover how productive you can be. 

Setting deadlines for yourself is an important way of keeping track of your progress. It is beneficial not only to your personal goals but to your professional goals as well. 

Make sure to take your own deadlines seriously. That’s the only way to make it work. 

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