Why Deadlines Are Important

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published January 29, 2021

Having deadlines and meeting them can be an effective way to make sure you achieve your long and short-term goals. Regardless of their nature, deadlines can have a direct influence on your future plans. Being able to meet a deadline is an important trait, but it takes discipline and determination. In this article, we discuss the importance of deadlines and how you can set realistic deadlines.

Why are deadlines important?

Having and meeting deadlines can help you achieve both your personal and professional goals by giving them a clear timeframe. Here are several reasons why deadlines are important:

Related: Task-Oriented Leadership: Definition and Examples

1. They help you prioritize

Making deadlines is usually an effective way to help you complete tasks according to their importance. Given that time is limited and there are multiple ways in which you can spend it, deciding on what is most important for you to do and setting deadlines for those tasks can help you make better use of your time. Prioritization can help you focus on the tasks that are likely to produce the most favorable outcomes.

2. They make you clearly define your goals

When you're creating a deadline, you need to decide on the time that you give yourself to complete a certain task. This basically forces you to thoroughly consider all the steps that you need to take to complete the task and how long it takes you to complete them. Having gone through this thought process, you are likely to have a clearer view of your goals and what it takes to achieve them.

3. They motivate you to achieve your goals

Having a clearly set date for completing a task can motivate you to get it done on time. If no deadline is set, there may not be a direct incentive for you to complete a task until a certain moment in time, which usually means that it takes longer than it should. A deadline can push you to finish on time, even if it may require giving up the time spent on less important activities.

4. They can enhance your creativity

A tight deadline often requires creative solutions for completing the required tasks. People are generally more likely to be creative when the circumstances force them to, which means that a well-set deadline can help an individual or a team reach their full creative potential.

5. They help you keep your promises

Setting deadlines and sticking to them can help you avoid making promises you can't keep. When all your tasks have a clear deadline, it is typically easier to determine for which activities you have time for and for which ones you don't. This is an important piece of information to have when deciding on whether you should take on an extra task, as having deadlines for all your existing tasks can help you determine if you have time for taking on a new one.

Related: Tips for Overcoming Procrastination

6. They help you avoid being overly perfectionist

In the absence of deadlines, some people may tend to spend too much time focusing on one or more aspects of their task. While maintaining high standards is important, setting deadlines can help you avoid over-analyzing various aspects of your work instead of allocating that time elsewhere. Setting a realistic headline can help you achieve a balance between high quality standards and timely delivery.

7. They can boost your confidence

Considering that setting deadlines is likely to increase the odds of you delivering quality work on time, constantly setting and meeting deadlines can also increase you and your team's morale. Knowing that you're able to set a clear timetable for your outstanding tasks and to actually complete them within schedule can increase your confidence and self-esteem.

Related: Elements of Strategic Planning: Definition and Examples

How to set achievable deadlines

When setting a deadline, the given timeframe must be a realistic one. Here are some tips on how you can set achievable deadlines:

1. Make SMART goals

When aiming to achieve a goal in a certain timeframe, make sure it is a realistic one by using the SMART technique. This means that your goals need to be:

  • Specific: Your goals are more likely to be achieved if they are narrow and specific

  • Measurable: Your goals need to have clear metrics that tell you whether you are doing a good job or not

  • Relevant: Your goals need to be correlated with your values and long-term objectives

  • Time-based: Finally, once the goals are clearly defined, measurable and relevant, you need to set a realistic and ambitious deadline for them.

Related: How To Write A SMART Goal (And How They Work)

2. Have clearly defined rewards and penalties for meeting or failing to meet a deadline

If you want a deadline to motivate and inspire you, meeting it needs to produce positive consequences. Likewise, failing to meet it needs to produce negative consequences. This makes the deadline more important to you and offers extra incentives to complete your task within the allocated timeframe.

3. Set a realistic timeframe

Although tight deadlines are likely to motivate you and enhance your creativity, setting unrealistically short timeframes to complete your tasks can lead to you failing to meet them, which can affect your morale. Alternatively, setting loose headlines can make you lose focus and downplay the task's importance, which typically leads to lower quality standards for your work. Finding the right balance between the two is essential.

4. Don't let yourself be affected by the fear of missing a deadline

Setting deadlines is generally a good idea, but it's important to remember that it is virtually impossible to meet every single deadline over a long period of time. Once you set a deadline, you should do everything you can to meet it, but avoid letting any anxiety of not completing your tasks on time affect the quality of your work.

5. Don't have too many deadlines

Setting deadlines can help you be more organized by adding clear timeframes to your goals, but you must be careful not to overdo it. Properly prioritizing your goals involves identifying those that need to be done within a certain timeframe and those that do not. Forcing yourself to urgently complete tasks that are not urgent by nature can be detrimental to your long-term goals.

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