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  • January 19, 2016

The Power of Deadlines And Why You Actually Need Them

Andreea Clair
ECEMEA Marketing Manager

Credits: nytimes.com

Don't say you don't have enough time. You have exactly the same
number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur,
Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and
Albert Einstein”,
said H. Jackson Brown Jr.

Truth be told however, today’s business market and competitivity is a
lot different than what it was 10 years ago, let alone when
Michelangelo created his legendary art. This makes performance in our
current and immensely challenging work environments a lot more difficult
to achieve.

Think about it: in our extremely limited work time frame, we need to:

  1. Complete our tasks with success
  2. Beat competition
  3. Learn to improve our work
  4. Exceed expectations with fresh ideas

But there’s a way to overcome these challenges, or at least make them
easier in the long run: by turning our most terrifying deadlines into
solid perks.

Here’s how.

Perk #1: You get to prioritize, which improves productivity

The cold lesson of having to compromise project A for project B is
probably the most difficult one to cope with when you’re working with
deadlines, especially tight ones. No matter how fast or efficient you
become, there’s a point where you simply have to reorganize your
priorities and focus on what’s truly important. But that’s actually a
good thing, because it teaches you the following:

  • How to evaluate your work in relation with what really matters for the company: This way you can have a more significant contribution to the company’s overall performance.
  • How to identify project opportunities that you initially overlooked: The
    process of prioritizing consists of eliminating things that can wait,
    hence evaluating the projects you’re letting go more carefully and
    discovering opportunities you might have missed at a first glance.

Perk #2: It’s hard to lose your motivation

It’s known that the closer you are to achieving your goals, the
greater your motivation becomes. This means that working with deadlines
actually helps your brain to focus and start working on ways you can
cross the finish line.

If you come to think about it, having more time on your hands doesn’t
necessarily imply you’ll be really using it for something worthwhile.
Most of the times we tend to lose focus when time pressure is not an
issue. That’s why using deadlines as a form of motivation can help us
when we have to make an extra effort: there’s literally no time to
postpone it.

Perk #3: It eliminates planning fallacy

Let’s face it, we are terrible judges of how long our tasks usually take. In psychology, this is known as planning fallacy
– which means we tend to underestimate the time we need in order to
finish something. Most of the times we even count on “best-case
scenarios”, and hardly consider what happens if something goes wrong.
Sometimes we might even overlook essential steps from the process of
finishing our projects and discover them when it’s too late. Picture
you’re planning to make an elegant dinner for your guests; maybe you’re
already thinking about how you’ll be eating with your guests, but most
probably overlooking you will need to spend time buying the ingredients,
selecting the right plates, drinking glasses, choosing the right
beverage that goes with the type of meal you are cooking and so on.

So before dismissing a deadline, try analyzing the steps of the
project and addressing the planning issue instead of the deadline

Perk #4: It’s putting efficiency to work

Think about your job as a roadmap and your biggest project as a
destination on that map. If you have a time limit, you have to focus on
finding the shortest and best way to reach that destination. Much like
in real life, if you work with deadlines, you’re bound to search for the
fastest possible ways that will help you achieve it. The reason why you
have to figure out the best option to achieve your target is because
you simply don’t have time to do it the inefficient way.

Deadlines can put our brains to work, and the best focus usually
comes when you know there’s a time frame and you need to stick to it.

All in all, if you’re having trouble accepting you have to work with
deadlines, and feel they can only hurt and put pressure on your work,
take a look at the benefits that come with them and work around this to
make your work easier. Because they are actually meant to make it

Andreea Clair:

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