Productivity Tactic #4: Set Deadlines

“The ultimate inspiration is the deadline” -Nolan Bushnell

The next key step I advise to productively tackle any goal or resolution is to set proper deadlines for yourself – emphasis on the “for yourself” part there. The most important thing is that you are the manager of your own time and the maker of your own expectations.

So give yourself a time frame to accomplish the steps towards each of your goals, which you’ve begun laying out with Tactic #3: Thing Big, Act Small. Each step will need its own deadline, as well as a higher level time frame for the bigger resolution. Both are important, and juggling them can be challenging. That’s why I’ve developed My 2012 Resolutions Google Doc, where I list out each step I’ve tasked myself with, which resolution it helps achieve, and when I will aim to get it done by.

Remember, I’ve also made this system into a Google Docs Template, so you can try it out as well and see if it will help you on your journey.

Now the key with deadline setting is to be realistic, but not afraid to push yourself. While it’s good to recognize that a particular step will be impossible to achieve in say, just 1 day, I also urge you to remember a certain rule of thumb I’ve come to appreciate, which I discovered with the help of Tim Ferriss. It’s called Parkinson’s Law. It essentially says that any task will take as much time as you allot it to get done. So whether you give yourself two weeks or two days to complete a task, it will probably take you that long.

To illustrate this point, think back to a survey you’ve sent out to your friends in the past, perhaps one meant to help schedule a fun outing. You might have noticed how everyone seemed to fill out the survey either instantly after you sent it out or right before its expiration. The lesson is it’s always easier to do something the fresher the reminder, whether that’s right when you start to do something or right when you’re supposed to have finished it.

So do yourself a favor and set deadlines as ambitious as you can reasonably manage, and then hold yourself to those! No one ever accomplished anything extraordinary by taking the easy road.

Plus, you should already have a manageable list of goals with actionable steps to take towards each that you’ve prioritized nicely.

Now just add those deadlines, and you just might surprise yourself with how much you can achieve and how quickly you can achieve it!

Subscribe to our newsletter

Questions? Comments? Absurd Ideas? Comment below and tell us one of your Artist goals this year & what deadline you are setting for yourself to get it done!

Your Un-Resolutions List

Not To-Do list“You must give up the life you planned, in order to have the life that is waiting for you.” -Joseph Campbell

Now that we’ve talked about your New Year’s resolution lists and some stellar techniques to help us stick to them, it’s time to see the other side of the coin. Besides listing out the things you want to do this year, it’s also a healthy practice to list out what you don’t want to do – what things you’ll want to avoid, things that suck up your time and contribute to your Chaos.

So let’s make a Un-Resolutions List!

Here are some suggestions from mine:

  1. To not check all of my email all the time. This is a massive time suck, and can be avoided by setting up a good system of filters and labels to automatically organize your emails, and then checking the whole bunch of important unread emails all at once or at set times everyday. I have done this with my own Gmail setup, and I promise you it has made a huge difference in my day.
  2. To not answer emails first thing in the morning or last thing at night. Early in the AM, you still might not be awake enough to properly absorb and respond, and could potentially scramble your plans for the rest of the day. Late at night, you could likewise be too tired to focus on your email, and studies have shown that looking at your computer screen right before bed can suppress your body’s production of melatonin, the hormone that helps you fall asleep at night.
  3. To not procrastinate. Don’t get yourself caught in the self-perpetuating “I’ll do it later” cycle. I’ve never met anyone who found true happiness and fulfillment from procrastination. Parkinson’s Law states that a task will essentially take the amount of time you allot to complete it. So set tight deadlines and then get it done! Schedule an event on your Google Calendar, and then force yourself to complete it in that time frame. Because the sooner you do it, the sooner you don’t have to do it.
  4. To not try to do everything. If you prioritize well, you should understand that not all tasks are created equal. And some tasks use more time and resources than they earn back. These are not worth doing! It is far smarter to focus on the most important tasks and most rewarding practices and most efficient skills, and let go of the rest. Remember, the key to having more time is doing less.
  5. To not try to do everything perfectly the first time. Making mistakes is part of the learning process, and it is perfectly natural. A fear of failure will ultimately only hold you back from attempting the truly important and worthwhile. Allow yourself the freedom to create a “draft” version first, and then take any slip-ups in stride and channel that towards improving what you’re working on.
  6. To try not to get hung up on details. I am naturally very detail-oriented, but that means that I often lose sight of the bigger picture. It’s important to balance both, and always remember the ultimate goal. That’s why I recommend keeping your high-level goals written down and easy to access. So whenever you get bogged down in the day-to-day grind, you can quickly pull back and remind yourself of your bigger objective, and then move on to tasks that better worked towards that.
  7. To not carry your cellphone 24/7. I know this sounds crazy in today’s age of technology addiction, but it is a healthy practice every once in a while to take a break from your digital leashes. Try turning your phone off or even leaving it behind entirely for a whole day, and see how much more you observe and engage with the world around you that day. Good chances are it won’t be the end of the world if you have to return someone’s call or email the next morning.
  8. To not answer calls from unrecognized numbers. This may mean occasionally missing a call you didn’t want to, but more often than not, it will mean avoiding the unnecessary and unknown callers and telemarketers. I personally never answer for a random number. That said, if I am expecting a call from someone new, and I have been given their number, I immediately save them as a contact in my phone, so that I can recognize them when they do call.
  9. To not take calls or meetings without a clear agenda or end time. I used to work in the corporate world of unnecessary and unnecessarily long meetings. And I learned that if there is a clearly stated objective or agenda laid out ahead of time, no call or meeting should take more than 30min. So learn from my experience, and email your request it in advance so you “can be best prepared to make good use of the time together.” Or ask that they share a Google Doc with the meeting’s agenda, so that all the attendees can collaborate and agree on it together before stepping into the meeting room.
  10. To not try to please everyone. It’s simply one of life’s law that you are never going to please everyone. In high school, I had a hard time grasping the fact that I wasn’t going to get everyone to like me. There will always be somebody who disagrees with you, and you’re never going to be able to control what others think. So don’t waste your time worrying about it. Focus instead on what you can control, on being someone you yourself can be pleased with and on the people who do deserve your time and attention.

There are just some suggestions of mine, but I encourage you to think of any others that might be more specific to you. Often times, our un-resolutions are simply mirror images of our resolutions. For example, not procrastinating and not trying to do everything can be seen as reflections of the resolution to better prioritize.

So look at your own list of resolutions for this year. Can you think of any potentially negative behaviors that could hinder your ability to accomplish these? Give it a solid try, and try not to stress about it too much. If it helps, it helps. If not, move on and focus on what else you can do.

Un-thank you!

Questions? Comments? Absurd Ideas? Feel free to comment on this post and share!