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Deadlines and productivity: an everlasting friendship

Published: January 19,2021

Deadlines can make you either more organized and productive or stressed and less efficient. Which category are you part of? If you’re in the second group, it might be because you’ve been using deadlines wrong.

In this article, we’ll share with you some interesting facts on deadlines, good tips on how to set them and why you should consider them your productivity’s best friend.

The history of “deadline”

Have you ever wondered where does this word come from? What’s its story and why on earth does it make you think about death? Actually, there is a connection. Don’t worry, nothing bad is going to happen if you miss a deadline. At least, that’s no longer the case today.

The phrase “meet a deadline” has its origin in the 19th century, and it appears it was first used during the American Civil War (1861 – 1865). The definition given by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary implies “a line drawn within or around a prison that a prisoner passes at the risk of being shot”. Pretty explanatory, isn’t it?

It was only by the middle of the 20th century that people started to give the word a different meaning, which is the one we all know today: “a date or time before which something must be done.”

One of the first encounters of a time-related meaning of this word was in the 1920s, as newspaper jargon. Journalists had a very strict time limit by which they had to send their stories in order to have enough time to get the newspaper printed and distributed throughout the entire community.

Know the difference between deadlines

Deadlines can be divided into two categories: soft and hard deadlines. Depending on how you perceive and use each of them, they can be your best friends or your worst enemies.

Soft deadlines are usually self-imposed and the ones that you can manage on your own. These are the ones you mark on your calendar or write down on a sticky note, not to forget about them. You choose a date and try to get that task done or that goal reached by then.

The good thing about soft due dates is that they are flexible. Since you are the one who set them in the first place, you can adapt it to suit your time and needs.

Hard deadlines are the ones that give the most headaches, especially if they are not met. These are the ones you share publicly with your colleagues at work, friends, or family.

They can make you feel good if used effectively

Many people say that deadlines can be an incredible productivity boost, but only if they are used the right way.

Have you ever been in the situation where you just finished an incredibly difficult task within the established timeline? If yes, you probably know the good feeling you felt right afterwards. It’s like you’re feeling relieved. That’s one of the reasons why deadlines are considered beneficial.

They also help you be more organized and plan ahead what you’ll do next. Imagine you have a big project that needs to be delivered by the end of the month. You can split it into smaller parts and set up deadlines for each to know exactly when you’ll get everything done without neglecting any of the parts.

Committing to such a plan helps you stay productive and makes your goals feel more concrete.

Three simple aspects to consider

Firstly, you need to find a task organizer app. Fortunately, there are tons to choose from. The even better news is many of them, such as Asana, Evernote, or Trello, are already integrated into OneDock, the ultimate app you’ll need this year. You’ll also find here many communication apps, including Microsoft Teams, Slack, Telegram or Discord.

In other words, OneDock is the desktop app organizer you’ve been looking for so long. Try it. You’ll thank us later.

Secondly, make sure you set concrete and realistic deadlines, such as “next Wednesday at 3 PM” instead of “sometime next week”. You need to have enough time to finish a task and to know exactly when it needs to be done, to avoid stressful situations.

Thirdly, deadlines should be meaningful. If you establish one, you should also abide by it. Find the motivation you need, whether it’s internal or external, to stay organized and stick to the plan. Here are some useful tips that can help you improve your focus.

Parkinson’s law

Parkinson and deadlines? What’s the catch? Well, this phenomenon implies that tasks that are given more time to be completed will actually take longer, even though the extra time doesn’t make much difference regarding the performance of that task.

According to researchers, when choosing a deadline, it’s best to consider the amount of time you need to complete the task, instead of the amount of time you have to complete it. This way, you won’t waste time, and you work more efficiently.

Final thoughts

Deadlines work, but only if you use them efficiently. Assess each task or situation in advance and decide whether it requires a soft or a hard deadline. In some cases, flexibility can boost your productivity more, whereas strict due dates can be more beneficial some other time.

With so many things to do, it can be difficult to stay organized. Which is why you need an app that helps you get through it and OneDock is your best ally. Download the app for free, create an account and see how much your work will improve with it.


Lavinia Nica

Lavinia Nica - Copywriter / UX writer at Telekom Romania


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