Mass hysteria. Weeping. People huddling together in comfort.

No, this isn’t the aftermath of a terrible calamity. Nor is it the opening scene of a disaster movie. This is actually an office with a project deadline due in a couple of hours.

It’s crazy how deadlines fill us with such fear and dread. It’s time to take the power back and use deadlines to our own advantage instead. When it comes to productivity, deadlines are your best friend.

What do deadlines actually do for you?

  • Deadlines show you the finish line. When the goal is clear, focusing on how to get there is much easier. Compare this to your home projects that never seem to get done because you’ll only do them when you “get around to it”.
  • Deadlines give you an adrenaline rush. You must admit, the rush of impending doom from a deadline feels amazing. It’s like getting a minor superpower that helps you get things done.
  • Deadlines make it easier to prioritize. Having a deadline is a good, solid reason to say no to other work and ignore nonessentials.

How To Hack Deadlines

Throw away your fear of deadlines and make them work for you. To help you out, we’ve collected a few tips to hack deadlines for maximum productivity.

1. Set multiple short deadlines, versus having one long deadline

Big projects feel like a grind when they take a long time to get finished. The antidote is to slice that project up into small pieces, each with a short deadline attached to it. This way, you’ll be able to cram more work in less time as well as get pumped up after you finish each piece. That small rush you feel when you meet the deadline will keep your energy up as well as help the project stay on track.

2. Advertise your deadlines for accountability

A deadline is powerless when you keep it to yourself. Set it free and show it off so that you can use it to keep your work in check. When other people know about your deadline, you’ll work harder to not disappoint them. Some places to advertise your deadline: on a sticky note on your monitor, in the pantry bulletin board, on the team’s whiteboard.

3. Avoid Monday deadlines

While deadlines help you get work done, you’ll also need to make sure that it doesn’t stress you out too much. When you need to meet a deadline on a Monday, you’ll have to work the weekend which isn’t healthy. It’s best to schedule deadlines between Tuesday and Thursday.

4. Create two deadlines per project

The first deadline is for completing the basics of the project. The only work you need to do at this time is to meet all the goals of the project, nothing more. The second and final deadline is for the actual finished product. This is when you add bells and whistles, plan for worse case scenarios and tweak things for better outcomes.

This way, you’ll still be able to meet the deadline and deliver something that works despite any delays that can (and will) happen. If you finish ahead of time? Well, then you can really make things shine and deliver something exceptional.

5. When setting deadlines, remember that you’re human

You’re not a robot that can work 12 hours nonstop and your deadlines shouldn’t be set up that way either. Make sure to factor in breaks, meals and yes, even those short bouts of procrastination you will have while working.

Workaholic Bonus Tip: Schedule hard daily deadlines when to stop work

This is for the workaholics. I know that doing tomorrow’s work today is great but doing it every single day will burn you out. You won’t do anybody any good when that happens, not your boss, not your co-workers and definitely not your spouse and kids.

Deadlines don’t have to be scary. Add deadlines to personal tasks to start and soon you’ll be as cozy with deadlines you are with a friendly pit bull




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Glenn Santos

Author Glenn Santos

Glenn has been writing about technology, productivity and lifehacks for 10 years now. He was previously an editor for Android Authority and Geeky Gadgets, and was one of the first contributors for Startup Weekend's main blog.

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