Not many people like working on deadlines. Most people like to work at their own pace and get things done when it is most convenient for them. For procrastinators, deadlines are the worst enemy. They are the impending due dates that creep up and remind the procrastinators that they are running out of time to “do it later.”
However, most people would also agree that they feel a great sense of relief after meeting a deadline and submitting a paper or project. After a deadline has been met, there is no more fretting, second-guessing or tweaking. Instead, there is relaxation and reflection.
In my opinion, deadlines are a good thing. They are not scary; they are helpful. They help me step away from my computer and toward something a little more enjoyable, like friend time, gym time, or sleep time. In fact, I impose deadlines on myself.
I am a journalism student; I run on deadlines. This used to be hard for me to handle. Deadlines once made me feel pressured and anxious. I wanted to look over things, then look over things, then look over things again. I obsessively reviewed my work and spent admittedly way too much time on even the simplest of assignments. My chest pounded whenever story due dates were announced or project deadlines were set.
Then, I realized how great it was to meet a deadline and to just be done with it. After I realized that, I realized that editors and professors were not the only people who could enforce due dates. I realized that I could put myself on a timeline, too.
Now, I give myself deadlines for almost any assignment or task on my plate. Do I have an essay to write? I make it due in an hour. Do I have a PR plan to prepare? I declare that it is due at 10 p.m.
Setting deadlines for myself pushes me to focus entirely on the task at hand, rather than taking multiple breaks to watch Gossip Girl, browse my favorite blogs, or chat with my roommates. This method also helps me avoid pulling awful all-nighters.
My bedtime is a deadline. I set a “turn-off” time for myself every night. Once that time comes, I shut off my computer, put my things away, and hop into bed. Whatever I did not finish is completed in the morning when I am rested and rejuvenated.
Self-imposed deadlines are excellent tools for the involved and active. If you are balancing school, an internship, and a social life, then you cannot afford to spend days — or sometimes even hours — on a single project.
Be realistic with your deadlines. Allot a proportional amount of time for the importance of the project at hand. Then, work hard to meet that deadline and be serious about your work. Finally, reward yourself by taking a break and moving on to the next item on your to do list (or your want to do list).
Another great thing about self-imposed deadlines is that they are flexible. If you need to look back at something later, then you can do it. Personal deadlines are not as binding as professional deadlines. They simply help you use your time as efficiently as possible. (They also prevent you from pulling your hair out after looking at the computer screen for seven hours straight the day before a paper is due.)
Set your own deadlines and start living on your own timeline.