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10 Common Mistakes You Make When Setting Deadlines

10 Common Mistakes You Make When Setting Deadlines

Setting deadlines and following through to complete them is an art that you can learn with practice and patience. Common mistakes happen and sometimes it’s more about trial and error. As you continue on your track of success, professionally and personally, consider these common mistakes when it comes to setting deadlines. Fixing these common mistakes is not hard to do, but it’ll make a big difference in meeting your deadlines.

1. Not writing down the deadline.

It is important to write down your deadlines on a calendar or somewhere that you can see on a daily basis. It’s not a big secret that what we don’t see, we oftentimes forget. If you have a lot of deadlines, a large calendar would work well for you. Simply write down the deadline on the day it is due and be sure that you review your calendar each day.

2. Failing to research the options.

If you have a deadline, be sure to research all of your options before finalizing that deadline. For example, if you have to have a big presentation at the office, be sure that you do your research ahead of time before you tell your boss when you’ll be ready to make the presentation. You might initially think it will take you a week, but if you research the topic, you might find out that it will take you closer to two weeks to be completely prepared.

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3. Falling prey to lack of motivation.

Let’s say you have a project due in six months, so you put it out of your mind until the week before it’s due. Oftentimes this procrastination is due to lack of motivation to complete the project. Sure, some projects are just not that fun, but to be able to finish the project well before it is due is quite a success. Perhaps you could offer yourself a reward for working on the project consistently or when you finish the project.

4. Setting unrealistic deadlines.

Motivation is great, but if you set deadlines that are unrealistic, you’re bound to stress yourself out a good bit.  If you have plenty of time to complete a task, there’s no need to rush it. For example, if you have to learn new techniques for one aspect of your job, give yourself ample time instead of feeling pressured to rush and have them mastered in a week.  Rushing is not the way to accomplish any task successfully.

5. Having too many deadlines.

You’re efficient, but you’re not superman or superwoman.  If you’re stressed out beyond your max, perhaps you’ve got too many deadlines set.  If this is the case, take a look at each one and either choose a different deadline for it or see if you can delegate it elsewhere.  We live in a society that puts a lot of pressure on people to perform and achieve.  It’s not feasible to be an overachiever, as it is just far too stressful.  Keep your goals balanced and create feasible deadlines for them.

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6. Setting deadlines too far into the future.

If you’re deadline is three years down the road, you might not really find the motivation to work consistently on meeting that deadline. For example, let’s say you want a degree in a few years. Break that deadline down into semesters. When you break down your deadlines into smaller chunks, you will feel more motivated to work toward those consistently.

7. Lack of steps toward the deadline.

Take your project and chunk it into steps and then mark each deadline until the final project is done.  For example, let’s say you want to learn Spanish so you can be bilingual for your job.  Break that into steps, like one month to learn nouns, verbs, etc., one month to learn the grammar rules, and two months to practice Spanish via Skype lessons from a tutor.  Tacking projects in bite size pieces is much more feasible and keeps your momentum going.

8. Setting a deadline when you really just need patience.

Ever try to lose 20 pounds in a month and then get frustrated when it didn’t happen? This is because you set a deadline on something that really just needs patience and some consistency. Weight loss can occur, but you’re not always in control of how much and when. It’s better to focus on being consistent with eating healthy and exercising, and let the weight loss occur naturally, rather than stressing yourself out with a specific weight loss deadline.

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9. Not taking every detail into consideration.

It is important to take some time to contemplate what you want to accomplish within your deadline.  Sure, it may sound great at first, but if you take a day or two to really think about your deadline and take everything into consideration, you might be surprised at what you realize. You may have forgotten something important if you just rushed into setting that deadline. Take a few days to not only do your research, but contemplate everything involved.

10. Mimicking others

If you set the same deadlines that others set, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Don’t fall prey to the pressure to mimic others. If your coworker met his deadline in three months, that doesn’t mean that you have to do the same. If your best friend landed his dream job in one year, that does not have to be your deadline. Do what works for you. Be confident that you can and will set deadlines individual to you and go for it!

Setting deadlines is very important in life. Without them we tend to procrastinate and get lazy.  Keeping that in mind, understand that setting deadlines and hitting them with the least stress possible requires a bit of knowledge and knowing what to avoid. Take these tips into consideration as you go about setting and knocking out your deadlines.

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Featured photo credit: Deadlines via photopin.com

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Last Updated on November 18, 2019

How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

Everyone of my team members has a bucketload of tasks that they need to deal with every working day. On top of that, most of their tasks are either creativity tasks or problem solving tasks.

Despite having loads of tasks to handle, our team is able to stay creative and work towards our goals consistently.

How do we manage that?

I’m going to reveal to you how I helped my team get more things done in less time through the power of correct prioritization. A few minutes spent reading this article could literally save you thousands of hours over the long term. So, let’s get started with my method on how to prioritize:

The Scales Method – a productivity method I created several years ago.

How to Prioritize with the Scales Method

    One of our new editors came to me the other day and told me how she was struggling to keep up with the many tasks she needed to handle and the deadlines she constantly needed to stick to.

    At the end of each day, she felt like she had done a lot of things but often failed to come up with creative ideas and to get articles successfully published. From what she told me, it was obvious that she felt overwhelmed and was growing increasingly frustrated about failing to achieve her targets despite putting in extra hours most days.

    After she listened to my advice – and I introduced her to the Scales Method – she immediately experienced a dramatic rise in productivity, which looked like this:

    • She could produce three times more creative ideas for blog articles
    • She could publish all her articles on time
    • And she could finish all her work on time every day (no more overtime!)

    Curious to find out how she did it? Read on for the step-by-step guide:

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    1. Set Aside 10 Minutes for Planning

    When it comes to tackling productivity issues, it makes sense to plan before taking action. However, don’t become so involved in planning that you become trapped in it and never move beyond first base.

    My recommendation is to give yourself a specific time period for planning – but keep it short. Ideally, 10 or 15 minutes. This should be adequate to think about your plan.

    Use this time to:

    • Look at the big picture.
    • Think about the current goal and target that you need/want to achieve.
    • Lay out all the tasks you need to do.

    2. Align Your Tasks with Your Goal

    This is the core component that makes the Scales Method effective.

    It works like this:

    Take a look at all the tasks you’re doing, and review the importance of each of them. Specifically, measure a task’s importance by its cost and benefit.

    By cost, I am referring to the effort needed per task (including time, money and other resources). The benefit is how closely the task can contribute to your goal.

      To make this easier for you, I’ve listed below four combinations that will enable you to quickly and easily determine the priority of each of your tasks:

      Low Cost + High Benefit

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      Do these tasks first because they’re the simple ones to complete, yet help you get closer to your goal.

      Approving artwork created for a sales brochure would likely fit this category. You could easily decide on whether you liked the artwork/layout, but your decision to approve would trigger the production of the leaflet and the subsequent sales benefits of sending it out to potential customers.

      High Cost + High Benefit

      Break the high cost task down into smaller ones. In other words, break the big task into mini ones that take less than an hour to complete. And then re-evaluate these small tasks and set their correct priority level.

      Imagine if you were asked to write a product launch plan for a new diary-free protein powder supplement. Instead of trying to write the plan in one sitting – aim to write the different sections at different times (e.g., spend 30 minutes writing the introduction, one hour writing the body text, and 30 minutes writing the conclusion).

      Low Cost + Low Benefit

      This combination should be your lowest priority. Either give yourself 10-15 minutes to handle this task, or put these kind of tasks in between valuable tasks as a useful break.

      These are probably necessary tasks (e.g., routine tasks like checking emails) but they don’t contribute much towards reaching your desired goal. Keep them way down your priority list.

      High Cost + Low Benefit

      Review if these tasks are really necessary. Think of ways to reduce the cost if you decide that the completion of the task is required.

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      For instance, can any tools or systems help to speed up doing the task? In this category, you’re likely to find things like checking and updating sales contacts spreadsheets. This can be a fiddly and time-consuming thing to do without making mistakes. However, there are plenty of apps out there they can make this process instant and seamless.

      Now, coming back to the editor who I referred to earlier, let’s take a look at her typical daily task list:

        After listening to my advice, she broke down the High cost+ High benefit task into smaller ones. Her tasks then looked like this (in order of priority):

          And for the task about promoting articles to different platforms, after reviewing its benefits, we decided to focus on the most effective platform only – thereby significantly lowering the associated time cost.

          Bonus Tip: Tackling Tasks with Deadlines

          Once you’ve evaluated your tasks, you’ll know the importance of each of them. This will immediately give you a crystal-clear picture on which tasks would help you to achieve more (in terms of achieving your goals). Sometimes, however, you won’t be able to decide every task’s priority because there’ll be deadlines set by external parties such as managers and agencies.

          What to do in these cases?

          Well, I suggest that after considering the importance and values of your current tasks, align the list with the deadlines and adjust the priorities accordingly.

          For example, let’s dip into the editor’s world again.

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          Some of the articles she edited needed to be published by specific dates. The Scales Method allows for this, and in this case, her amended task list would look something like this:

            Hopefully, you can now see how easy it is to evaluate the importance of tasks and how to order them in lists of priority.

            The Scales Method Is Different from Anything Else You’ve Tried

            By adopting the Scales Method, you’ll begin to correctly prioritize your work, and most importantly – boost your productivity by up to 10 times!

            And unlike other methods that don’t really explain how to decide the importance of a task, my method will help you break down each of your tasks into two parts: cost and benefits. My method will also help you to take follow-up action based on different cost and benefits combinations.

            Start right now by spending 10 minutes to evaluate your common daily tasks and how they align with your goal(s). Once you have this information, it’ll be super-easy to put your tasks into a priority list. All that remains, is that you kick off your next working day by following your new list.

            Trust me, once you begin using the Scales Method – you’ll never want to go back to your old ways of working.

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            Featured photo credit: Vector Stock via vectorstock.com

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