Short on time? For the key benefits of setting deadlines, stick to the bold text and the conclusion.

You probably hate deadlines and wonder why you keep getting them.

But let me tell you something: deadlines are important. They keep your life and work structured. Yes, there’s even a way you can control it, by setting your own deadlines. But first, let us convince you with three more benefits of setting deadlines.

Top 3 benefits of setting deadlines:

Benefit 1: Increased performance and time-efficiency

Deadlines give performance boosts

Working with a deadline causes stress. Stress, however, isn’t always bad. Positive stress, or eustress, enhances your focus and motivation. It gives you a psychological and physical performance boost. 

According to the Yerkes-Dodson Law, ‘a relationship between arousal and behavioural task performance exists, such that there is an optimal level of arousal for optimal performance. Over- or under-arousal reduces task performance.’

In other words, an increased sense of urgency created by deadlines improves your performance and motivation up to a certain point. It works until the task becomes too difficult and the probability of success decreases. Too much work in too little time leads to overwhelm and motivation loss. 

What do we learn from this? Deadlines need to be reasonable. Set various achievable deadlines, or milestones, to boost your motivation and performance levels.

Setting your own deadlines leads to better results because you feel in control. This leads to higher motivation and deeper focus, resulting in better performances and superior outcomes.

Deadlines bolster your time-efficiency

Our brain likes procrastination. Scrolling through your social media feed, for example, releases dopamine which makes you feel happy. However, the fear of unpleasant outcomes by missing deadlines outweighs the pleasure of procrastination.

Even very responsible people might not finish what they started if they don’t set time limits. The problem isn’t that they aren’t working, it’s the opposite. They never stop. 

If you don’t have a deadline, you’ll keep coming up with new ideas. You’ll always find things you want to improve. “Perfectionist you” will always beat “punctual you”.

This idea is summed up in Parkinson’s law: ‘work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.’ (Merriam-Webster). This works both ways. If you set more time, you’ll find more things to do. If you set less time, you’ll get straight to the point. Set deadlines accordingly. 

Reasonable deadlines lead to better motivation and more time-efficient work with increased performance as a result.

Benefit 2: Better organisation and higher standards. 

Firstly, completing assignments on time allows space to find and solve mistakes. If you hand in early, you might get the opportunity to filter out embarrassing mistakes.

Secondly, sticking to your deadlines improves your standards. While procrastination might boost your creativity, you won’t have time for thorough research. If you create milestones and meet them, you give yourself enough time to go the extra mile. Not only will you avoid mistakes, but you’ll also create a more meaningful project. 

Thirdly, setting milestones and deadlines keeps your work organised. If deadlines are scheduled well, you’ll have more productive days.

Never set two big deadlines on the same day. You might feel overwhelmed by it and complete neither. Avoid Saturdays and Sundays to allow yourself some rest and time to disconnect

Deadlines improve your organisation and help prevent unforeseen circumstances.

Benefit 3: Boosted sense of accomplishment

Every deadline you meet is a small win. You have every right to feel proud. This sense of accomplishment isn’t something to be neglected. Even if it’s part of your job to meet deadlines, you should celebrate them to stay motivated for deadlines ahead. 

Having this in mind, it’s beneficial to set milestones. Motivation increases when our deadline is in sight and we can clearly observe the differences that our actions are making. More milestones mean that there’s always a goal in sight. When you’re going to the gym, don’t wait until you reach your goal. Celebrate every extra rep. 

Studies suggest people value near-future rewards over distant-future rewards, even when the distant-future reward is considerably larger. So the sum of several small, short-term accomplishments is higher than one big accomplishment.

Set multiple deadlines to sustain motivation and finish what you started. 

The benefits of setting deadlines in a nutshell

Deadlines, especially when divided into achievable milestones, are incredible performance enhancers.

These time limitations give you a sizeable motivation boost which will facilitate your flow. Setting the correct deadlines helps to stay on track of your goals and deliver high-quality work. Finally, deadlines boost your self-confidence. Meet the deadline to reward yourself with a well-deserved sense of accomplishment.

Now that you’re aware of the benefits of deadlines, it’s time to set good deadlines for yourself!

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Sources and further reading about the benefits of setting deadlines:

The benefits of setting good deadlines: infographic