Scenario 1: “We need this task completing, no rush, do it when you’re ready”
You want to give people freedom and flexibility. Letting them choose the order and when to complete their tasks would be seen as being just that. The difficulty with that is, the task will never get done. If you leave it open ended, every other task will jump above it on the priority list. As there is no clear deadline, it can just be put off, time and time again. It’s not that there is no love for the task, it’s just without a ‘finish by’ deadline, it will just be left.
Scenario 2: “We need this task completing, by the end of today”
Basically, as long as it’s realistic, the task will always get done that day, every time. There is a clear deadline, and no matter what’s going on that day, it will be done somehow. Just by having a deadline of some kind, all sorts of magical things happen. It puts that marker into the subconscious, and everything else is scheduled around this task. Take me writing this post right now… I know I have to leave the office by 1645 today, and I know I wanted to post a new article today – even though I’ve had a busy day both onsite with customers and at the office. Yet somehow, I’ve managed to get it done, all because I set it as a deadline this morning.
Deadlines set a clear expectation on the task in hand, if everyone involved has agreed to the deadline, then it gets done… and if it doesn’t you will be held accountable for committing to something you were unable to deliver. Sounds serious, but then I suppose it is.
For me, you should set a deadline for every task, no matter how small. Deadlines work wonders, it’s as simple as that. I’m yet to come across a scenario where having a deadline was a bad thing, and I’d love to hear from you if you can tell me otherwise.
So go forth, set them deadlines (on everything), from your daily work duties to doing ‘the big shop’ and see how you get on. See how much more you get done. Fact.
As ever, feel free to contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org about your thoughts and tips on ‘getting things done’.
This article was written by Gavin Moorhouse, owner of Lucid Computer Solutions. The deadline for this article was 1630. It was posted at 1614.