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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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How to Fight Information Overload

How to Fight Information Overload

Information overload is a creature that has been growing on the Internet’s back since its beginnings. The bigger the Internet gets, the more information there is. The more quality information we see, the more we want to consume it. The more we want to consume it, the more overloaded we feel.

This has to stop somewhere. And it can.

As the year comes to a close, there’s no time like the present to make the overloading stop.

What you need to do is focus on these 4 steps:

  1. Set your goals.
  2. Decide whether you really need the information.
  3. Consume only the minimal effective dose.
  4. Don’t procrastinate by consuming too much information.

But before I explain exactly what I mean, let’s discuss information overload in general.

The Nature of the Problem

The sole fact that there’s more and more information published online every single day is not the actual problem. Only the quality information becomes the problem. This sounds kind of strange…but bear with me.

When we see some half-baked blog post we don’t even consider reading it, we just skip to the next thing. But when we see something truly interesting — maybe even epic — we want to consume it. We even feel like we have to consume it. And that’s the real problem.

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No matter what topic we’re interested in, there are always hundreds of quality blogs publishing entries every single day (or every other day). Not to mention all the forums, message boards, social news sites, and so on. The amount of epic content on the Internet these days is so big that it’s virtually impossible for us to digest it all. But we try anyway.

That’s when we feel overloaded. If you’re not careful, one day you’ll find yourself reading the 15th blog post in a row on some nice WordPress tweaking techniques because you feel that for some reason, “you need to know this.”

Information overload is a plague. There’s no vaccine, there’s no cure. The only thing you have is self-control. Luckily, you’re not on your own. There are some tips you can follow to protect yourself from information overload and, ultimately, fight it. But first…

Why information overload is bad

It stops you from taking action. That’s the biggest problem here. When you try to consume more and more information every day, you start to notice that even though you’ve been reading tons of articles, watching tons of videos and listening to tons of podcasts, the stream of incoming information seems to be infinite.

Therefore, you convince yourself that you need to be on a constant lookout for new information if you want to be able to accomplish anything in your life, work and/or passion. The final result is that you are consuming way too much information, and taking way too little action because you don’t have enough time for it.

The belief that you need to be on this constant lookout for information is just not true.

You don’t need every piece of advice possible to live your life, do your work, or enjoy your passion.

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So how to recognize the portion of information that you really need? Start with your goals.

1. Set your goals

If you don’t have your goals put in place you’ll be just running around grabbing every possible advice and thinking that it’s “just what you’ve been looking for.”

Setting goals is a much more profound task than just a way to get rid of information overload. Now by “goals” I don’t mean things like “get rich, have kids, and live a good life”. I mean something much more within your immediate grasp. Something that can be achieved in the near future — like within a month (or a year) at most.

Basically, something that you want to attract to your life, and you already have some plan on how you’re going to make it happen. So no hopes and dreams, just actionable, precise goals.

Then once you have your goals, they become a set of strategies and tactics you need to act upon.

2. What to do when facing new information

Once you have your goals, plans, strategies and tasks you can use them to decide what information is really crucial.

First of all, if the information you’re about to read has nothing to do with your current goals and plans then skip it. You don’t need it.

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If it does then it’s time for another question. Will you be able to put this information into action immediately? Does it have the potential to maybe alter your nearest actions/tasks? Or is it so incredible that you absolutely need to take action on it right away? If the information is not actionable in a day or two (!) then skip it. (You’ll forget about it anyway.)

And that’s basically it. Digest only what can be used immediately. If you have a task that you need to do, consume only the information necessary for getting this one task done, nothing more.

You need to be focused in order to have clear judgment, and be able to decide whether some piece of information is mandatory or redundant. Self-control comes handy too … it’s quite easy to convince yourself that you really need something just because of poor self-control. Try to fight this temptation, and be as ruthless about it as possible – if the information is not matching your goals and plans, and you can’t take action on it in the near future then SKIP IT.

3. Minimal Effective Dose

There’s a thing called the MED – Minimal Effective Dose. I was first introduced to this idea by Tim Ferriss. In his book The 4-Hour Body,Tim illustrates the minimal effective dose by talking about medical drugs. Everybody knows that every pill has a MED, and after that specific dose no other positive effects occur, only some negative side effects if you overdose big.

Consuming information is somewhat similar. You need just a precise amount of it to help you to achieve your goals and put your plans into life. Everything more than that amount won’t improve your results any further. And if you try to consume too much of it, it will eventually stop you from taking any action altogether.

4. Don’t procrastinate by consuming more information

Probably one of the most common causes of consuming ridiculous amounts of information is the need to procrastinate. By reading yet another article we often feel that we are indeed working, and that we’re doing something good – we’re learning, which in result will make us a more complete and educated person.

This is just self-deception. The truth is we’re simply procrastinating. We don’t feel like doing what really needs to be done – the important stuff – so instead we find something else, and convince ourselves that “that thing” is equally important. Which is just not true.

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Don’t consume information just for the sake of it. It gets you nowhere.

In Closing

As you can see, information overload can be a real problem and it can have a sever impact on your productivity and overall performance. I know I have had my share of problems with it (and probably still have from time to time). But creating this simple set of rules helps me to fight it, and to keep my lizard brain from taking over. I hope it helps you too, especially as we head into a new year with a new chance at setting ourselves up for success.

Feel free to shoot me a comment below and share your own story of fighting information overload. What are you doing to keep it from sabotaging your life?

(Photo credit: Businessman with a Lot of Discarded Paper via Shutterstock)

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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