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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

10 Common Mistakes You Make When Setting Deadlines

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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 goal setting 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: Artem Maltsev via unsplash.com

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Published on September 21, 2021

How Remote Work Affects Your Productivity And Wellbeing (Backed By Data)

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How Remote Work Affects Your Productivity And Wellbeing (Backed By Data)

The internet is flooded with articles about remote work and its benefits or drawbacks. But in reality, the remote work experience is so subjective that it’s impossible to draw general conclusions and issue one-size-fits-all advice about it. However, one thing that’s universal and rock-solid is data. Data-backed findings and research about remote work productivity give us a clear picture of how our workdays have changed and how work from home affects us—because data doesn’t lie.

In this article, we’ll look at three decisive findings from a recent data study and two survey reports concerning remote work productivity and worker well-being.

1. We Take Less Frequent Breaks

Your home can be a peaceful or a distracting place depending on your living and family conditions. While some of us might find it hard to focus amidst the sounds of our everyday life, other people will tell you that the peace and quiet while working from home (WFH) is a major productivity booster. Then there are those who find it hard to take proper breaks at home and switch off at the end of the workday.

But what does data say about remote work productivity? Do we work more or less in a remote setting?

Let’s take a step back to pre-pandemic times (2014, to be exact) when a time tracking application called DeskTime discovered that 10% of most productive people work for 52 minutes and then take a break for 17 minutes.

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Recently, the same time tracking app repeated that study to reveal working and breaking patterns during the pandemic. They found that remote work has caused an increase in time worked, with the most productive people now working for 112 minutes and breaking for 26 minutes.[1]

Now, this may seem rather innocent at first—so what if we work for extended periods of time as long as we also take longer breaks? But let’s take a closer look at this proportion.

While breaks have become only nine minutes longer, work sprints have more than doubled. That’s nearly two hours of work, meaning that the most hard-working people only take three to four breaks per 8-hour workday. This discovery makes us question if working from home (WFH) really is as good a thing for our well-being as we thought it was. In addition, in the WFH format, breaks are no longer a treat but rather a time to squeeze in a chore or help children with schoolwork.

Online meetings are among the main reasons for less frequent breaks. Pre-pandemic meetings meant going to another room, stretching your legs, and giving your eyes a rest from the computer. In a remote setting, all meetings happen on screen, sometimes back-to-back, which could be one of the main factors explaining the longer work hours recorded.

2. We Face a Higher Risk of Burnout

At first, many were optimistic about remote work’s benefits in terms of work-life balance as we save time on commuting and have more time to spend with family—at least in theory. But for many people, this was quickly counterbalanced by a struggle to separate their work and personal lives. Buffer’s 2021 survey for the State of Remote Work report found that the biggest struggle of remote workers is not being able to unplug, with collaboration difficulties and loneliness sharing second place.[2]

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Buffer’s respondents were also asked if they are working more or less since their shift to remote work, and 45 percent admitted to working more. Forty-two percent said they are working the same amount, while 13 percent responded that they are working less.

Longer work hours and fewer quality breaks can dramatically affect our health, as long-term sitting and computer use can cause eye strain, mental fatigue, and other issues. These, in turn, can lead to more severe consequences, such as burnout and heart disease.

Let’s have a closer look at the connection between burnout and remote work.

McKinsey’s report about the Future of work states that 49% of people say they’re feeling some symptoms of burnout.[3] And that may be an understatement since employees experiencing burnout are less likely to respond to survey requests and may have even left the workforce.

From the viewpoint of the employer, remote workers may seem like they are more productive and working longer hours. However, managers must be aware of the risks associated with increased employee anxiety. Otherwise, the productivity gains won’t be long-lasting. It’s no secret that prolonged anxiety can reduce job satisfaction, decrease work performance, and negatively affect interpersonal relationships with colleagues.[4]

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3. Despite everything, We Love Remote Work

An overwhelming majority—97 percent—of Buffer report’s survey respondents say they would like to continue working remotely to some extent. The two main benefits mentioned by the respondents are the ability to have a flexible schedule and the flexibility to work from anywhere.

McKinsey’s report found that more than half of employees would like their workplace to adopt a more flexible hybrid virtual-working model, with some days of work on-premises and some days working remotely. To be more exact, more than half of employees report that they would like at least three work-from-home days a week once the pandemic is over.

Companies will increasingly be forced to find ways to satisfy these workforce demands while implementing policies to minimize the risks associated with overworking and burnout. Smart companies will embrace this new trend and realize that adopting hybrid models can also be a win for them—for example, for accessing talent in different locations and at a lower cost.

Remote Work: Blessing or Plight?

Understandably, workers worldwide are tempted to keep the good work-life aspects that have come out of the pandemic—professional flexibility, fewer commutes, and extra time with family. But with the once strict boundaries between work and life fading, we must remain cautious. We try to squeeze in house chores during breaks. We do online meetings from the kitchen or the same couch we watch TV shows from, and many of us report difficulties switching off after work.

So, how do we keep our private and professional lives from hopelessly blending together?

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The answer is that we try to replicate the physical and virtual boundaries that come naturally in an office setting. This doesn’t only mean having a dedicated workspace but also tracking your work time and stopping when your working hours are finished. In addition, it means working breaks into your schedule because watercooler chats don’t just naturally happen at home.

If necessary, we need to introduce new rituals that resemble a normal office day—for example, going for a walk around the block in the morning to simulate “arriving at work.” Remote work is here to stay. If we want to enjoy the advantages it offers, then we need to learn how to cope with the personal challenges that come with it.

Learn how to stay productive while working remotely with these tips: How to Work From Home: 10 Tips to Stay Productive

Featured photo credit: Jenny Ueberberg via unsplash.com

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