set mini-deadlines to fight procrastination

set mini-deadlines to fight procrastination

“There are people who literally cannot start a project until the deadline is four hours away, even if it’s a big one. And those people have a serious problem. My recommendation is [to] set up mini-deadlines. You might say, ‘Okay, here’s my deadline after three days for this and there’s another deadline for that and then a third deadline.’”

― Robert C. Pozen, Extreme Productivity: Boost Your Results, Reduce Your Hours

The best way to skyrocket your productivity is to focus on simplicity. Many people think that increased productivity means working all the time, at full capacity, to fulfill their goals. But this is far from the truth. Productivity is about doing exclusively the things that bring you the best outcomes. It’s about developing a kind of Zen approach to your work, wherein you expend minimal effort for maximum results. When you’re calm and focus your time on the most rewarding tasks, the more productive you become and the faster you finish your work.

If you find yourself with tons of work to be completed and no idea where to begin, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Situations like this can easily paralyze most of us, and it’s crucial that we figure out how to deal with them. 

An effective technique is to break down your big projects into smaller, more manageable targets, and set mini-deadlines for each of them. In that way, you’ll motivate yourself to make consistent progress towards the completion of a project. Most people don’t start working until they feel the pressure building and as a result drag things until the last minute to churn out a caffeine-fuelled mediocre piece of work. This induces unnecessary stress and anxiety, which could have been avoided in the first place. A better approach is to set smaller deadlines that split tasks up into more manageable chunks. After all, the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. 

When you employ this approach, make sure that you set your deadlines at regular intervals so that the majority of work is piled up at the end. For example, let’s say that you have to write a 10,000 word-report in six weeks. In order to complete this project, you can set deadlines to write 2,000 words every week for the first five weeks and spend the last week proofreading and refining the report. For additional accountability, you can share these deadlines and your completed work every week with your boss; this will add some extra pressure and help you stay on course. You’ll be motivated to deliver on your commitments because you won’t want to disappoint your boss.

As you make meaningful progress in your work, you must also remember to reward yourself after successfully meeting a deadline. So treat yourself to a nice meal or watch an engaging movie or docuseries to celebrate your tiny victory.

Productivity relies heavily on planning and efficiency. As you set clear goals and deadlines and work on them day in and day out, nothing can stop from becoming better, faster, and smarter at your job. This results-driven approach will help you break up big and overwhelming projects into small and manageable assignments and hence equip you to fight procrastination and stay motivated all along the way.