Stop using deadlines!

13 replies
Should I put deadlines to my goals?

I've wondered about this for a long time. Should I do it?

Since I read many books and watched/listened to many courses when it comes to self-improvement, I can confidently say that most of the gurus in this industry will tell you that you must put deadlines to your goals. Their logic was simple and straightforward: If you don't put deadlines, you will not be motivated to achieve them, or in other words, if your goals don't have deadlines then they are just wishes!

But my wishes come true! or in other words: Don't put deadlines to your goals!

The problem with having deadlines is pretty simple: In most of the cases you can't know how much time you will need to achieve your goal.

And this can lead to many problems. If you have a deadline that is too close, you will fail and your confidence will be shattered. On the other hand if you have deadlines that are too far away, you will have more time then you need and you will not be 'pushed' to achieve them i.e. you will procrastinate.

Think about it for a moment... if you want to write a book and you give yourself only one month to do that, big chances are that you will fail (of course, it is possible as people from nanowrimo have confirmed over and over again but for most people it's simply not possible because we maybe have other stuff to do in our lives and we are not prone to writing etc.)

On the other hand if you give yourself 1 year to do the same task, you will have way more time then you need in most cases. And since you have too much time, you will procrastinate until the last few months.

Since all of this comes of the top of my head, this may be a bad example but I think that you'll get my point.

So my thinking is like this: If you have to put deadlines to your goals, then you have a serious motivation problem. And in that case your main goal should be this: Figure out how to get my ass to work!

With this said, I decided to remove all the deadlines from my life. And I will never go back to using them.

I achieved 17 goals in more or less 3 months without using any deadlines whatsoever. I knew my priorities and I knew what I needed to do. And I was motivated to accomplish them.

That's all you need. You need to know what you want, you need to know your priorities (e.g. should I write my book or create a website first), you need a plan of action and last but not least, you need to be motivated to put that plan of action into action.

I don't see where the deadlines fit into this picture. If you must push yourself to accomplish your goals then you have bigger problems to deal with.

Of course, deadlines are not completely useless but I will talk about that sometime in the future.

Since I've noticed that there are many amazing people here who have amazing brains, I'm open for a discussion! Please give me your thoughts on this.

Nikola Slavkovic
#achievement #deadlines #goals #procrastination #stop #success
  • Profile picture of the author laurencewins
    A goal without a deadline is a dream. That is why you must write them down and put an end hour, day, week, month...etc. Some days even the most simplest of tasks get overlooked if they're not on your list and this applies to your real life, not just work.
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    • Profile picture of the author Black Dragon
      Originally Posted by laurencewins View Post

      A goal without a deadline is a dream. That is why you must write them down and put an end hour, day, week, month...etc. Some days even the most simplest of tasks get overlooked if they're not on your list and this applies to your real life, not just work.
      But I use my to-do list to avoid overlooking tasks?! Also, as I said before, I achieved all of my 'dreams' without deadlines. I don't need them because I know what I want i.e. my priorities and I don't need any 'pushing' from deadlines to get me going.

      And since I've used deadlines for pretty long period of time, I can safely say that not only it's easier to go without them but it's also more pleasurable. I don't have to constantly think whether or not I will get something done...

      Originally Posted by jfalxr View Post


      Without deadline, you just work randomly.. And in many cases -mine also- what happened next is your project being wasted and finished without any value..
      How do you mean that I work randomly? If I have 10 projects at hand and I know that the first one is the most important one, I will focus most of my energy towards that one. I don't need a deadline to tell me what is important and what's not.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jonathan 2.0
    I use daily to-do lists however I don't use deadlines.

    Like you said sometimes it can be difficult knowing how long a task will take.

    I prefer working at my leisure without a looming time to complete something. (Like when you're working for someone else.) I don't have a problem being motivated/taking action so I don't need a deadline to keep me going.
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  • Profile picture of the author jfalxr
    Putting a deadline is the most important things in my opinions..
    With a deadline, you can list all of your schedule to complete your projects..
    And you know the priority of the lists..

    Without deadline, you just work randomly.. And in many cases -mine also- what happened next is your project being wasted and finished without any value..

    If you don't know how much time will it need to accomplished it, you simply just can make a revision in your deadline later on.. But it still the important ones..
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    • Profile picture of the author Jonathan 2.0
      Originally Posted by jfalxr View Post

      Without deadline, you just work randomly.
      Not necessarily. : ) My daily to-do list keeps me focused.

      The only difference is that I spend however long is needed on a certain task. For me, creating the content for my business is a labour of love. (Rather than something I _have_ to do by X amount of time.)
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  • Profile picture of the author WebPen
    A deadline and daily to-do list can be used together.

    First, you set a deadline for some project- say, Oct 31st.

    Then you figure out all the steps required to complete the project, along with how long each will take.

    Then you plan out what activities need to be done each day, and make your daily to-do lists.

    Finally, execute.

    All that said- do whatever works for you. After all, IMers are constantly supposed to be testing, right?
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    • Profile picture of the author ronrule
      Originally Posted by Stowie View Post

      ...
      First, you set a deadline for some project- say, Oct 31st.

      Then you figure out all the steps required to complete the project, along with how long each will take.

      Then you plan out what activities need to be done each day, and make your daily to-do lists.

      Finally, execute...
      I can't see how this would work in this order... how do you set a deadline before you know what the steps are?

      Figure out the steps first, estimate the time for each, and set a deadline based on your time estimate - not the other way around.
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      • Profile picture of the author cajtrixie
        The main problem is that people think that deadlines are locked in stone, but I have rarely seen a schedule that hasn't had to evolve with its project.

        You need to set deadlines and do your ABSOLUTE BEST to hit them, but the trick is knowing that if you don't hit it, it's not the end of the world. It happens. Adjust your deadline and move forward, and then try your best to hit the new one.

        The important thing is to have a date in mind and to try your absolute best. If you try your absolute best, then there's nothing more that you could've done. Maybe in retrospect you can think of something, but at the time it was happening, you could have done no better. Take solace in that, and keep moving forward! ^_^
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        • Profile picture of the author Jonathan 2.0
          [DELETED]
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          • Profile picture of the author cajtrixie
            Originally Posted by Jonathan 2.0 View Post

            And what happens (for whatever reason) when people don't think they've done their absolute best?

            When, in reality, they've accomplished something as important¾to begin with¾as working for a couple of hours/day.
            It really depends on the person. The point is that THEY need to feel like they've done their best. Every person has to decide for themselves what that means.

            For example, did you work for every hour you had available that day? If so, there's not much more that you could've done. If you spent 1 of those hours chatting with friends, you probably didn't do everything that you could have.

            That being said, celebrating accomplishments is definitely encouraged! For example, if you had 4 hours free and spent only 2 of them working, BUT that was 1 hour more than yesterday, you should feel good about that. If you keep that up the next day and the next day, adding 1 hr each time, then that is definitely something accomplished! Use that as encouragement to move forward and improve. ^_^
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            • Profile picture of the author Jonathan 2.0
              Sorry cajtrixie, I deleted my post as you were replying to it.

              Yeah, I definitely agree with celebrating accomplishments. : )
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              • Profile picture of the author cajtrixie
                Originally Posted by Jonathan 2.0 View Post

                Sorry cajtrixie, I deleted my post as you were replying to it.

                Yeah, I definitely agree with celebrating accomplishments. : )
                *laughs* No "sorry" needed. It's cool. ^-^
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      • Profile picture of the author YHmuWong
        Originally Posted by Stowie View Post

        A deadline and daily to-do list can be used together.

        First, you set a deadline for some project- say, Oct 31st.

        Then you figure out all the steps required to complete the project, along with how long each will take.

        Then you plan out what activities need to be done each day, and make your daily to-do lists.

        Finally, execute.

        All that said- do whatever works for you. After all, IMers are constantly supposed to be testing, right?
        Originally Posted by ronrule View Post

        I can't see how this would work in this order... how do you set a deadline before you know what the steps are?

        Figure out the steps first, estimate the time for each, and set a deadline based on your time estimate - not the other way around.

        A clear goal is very important.So the deadline is needed to done within a time frame.
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  • Profile picture of the author joesfortune
    It is really not a deadline but a timeline. It is up to you to call it as such. Goals should be flexible but not forgettable. If you don't have a milestone for your goals, how else can you gage your progress?
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