Setting a deadline for yourself can be helpful or completely useless, depending on how you treat it. You can give yourself a higher chance of actually meeting your own deadlines by setting them near the present.
Photo by Alan Cleaver
Keeping procrastination in check is arguably the most important aspect of staying productive, and blowing off deadlines is one of the easiest ways to procrastinate. If you want to help yourself take your own deadlines seriously, professor of marketing at the University of Toronto, Dilip Soman, suggests keep your deadlines as near the present as possible:
People don’t think of future time periods as continuous passages of time. They don’t think about the number of days left to make a decision or finish a task, but rather, they tend to categorize future time outcomes — thinking about the deadline coming up next week/month/year, rather than this one. When a deadline is far into the future, we tend to put the task on the proverbial back burner, believing that we have a lot of time to attend to it. Things that are on the back burner stay there for longer than they should because there are plenty of other things that take up our attention as relatively more urgent.”
So keep your deadlines short. Set your deadlines within the same week or month, and hold yourself to them. If you need to make it even more urgent, set your deadline for today. When you keep it urgent, your mind perceives time as a finite resource and you can keep yourself driven. We all get caught saying “I’ll get to that someday”, but you can make goals a lot more realistic by forcing yourself to at least start sooner rather than later.
How to Trick Yourself Into Meeting Deadlines [Fast Company]