One of the best ways to stay ahead of things in life is to simply stay ahead of your schedule. What I mean by that is, it’s to your benefit not to wait until the last minute to do things that you know need to be done. Otherwise, do not procrastinate!
Now, I think this is something that most people struggle with on some level as we simply put too much in our life. Once this occurs, we have to take steps to prioritize our lives so that the things that are actually important (otherwise known as our needs) take priority over the things that are not as important (otherwise known as our wants).
The problem with this is that our wants are usually a little more exciting than our needs and have a tendency to make their way back to the front of our priorities. Because of this the things that are truly important have a tendency to be put off until the absolute last minute. This can be dangerous whenever emergencies find their way into our schedule.
This is why Stephen Covey tells us to stay out of quadrant four in his breakdown of the Eisenhower Matrix. Under his structure, quadrant four are the things that we do that serve no purpose other than wasting our time. They are neither important nor urgent and we should avoid them for the most part. Though, even Covey will state that it is okay to watch television in the evening. Just don’t do it ALL EVENING.
Instead we should be scheduling our day to make sure that the important things are taken care of first. When I was in grad school, I would use Google calendar to plug in all the due dates on my papers. However, instead of listing them on the days that they were due, I would list them two days prior. Then, two days before that, I would make a notation on my calendar to begin the project. That way, four days before a paper was due, I was already in the process of completing it. This is what I mean by staying ahead of your schedule.
Craig Jarrow, over at Time Management Ninja, provides us with ten benefits of not procrastinating. He suggests that, for these 10 reasons an individual should make sure that they do not procrastinate on things that should be priorities. He details ten benefits that will come from putting your life in order and doing the big things first.
Do you wait until deadlines are upon you before taking action?
If you’re like most, you probably wait until time is running out before starting those important tasks.
Yet, staying ahead of deadlines is a powerful productivity tactic that will make you more productive while reducing stress at the same time.
Today’s post is all about why you should never wait until the last-minute on your deadlines.
Deadlines or Guidelines?
It is interesting how numb most individuals (and companies) have become to deadlines.
Deadlines become extended deadlines. Final warnings become final final warnings. In general, things are not being accomplished, and to add insult to injury, the question is then pondered, “Why are my peers and competitors out-pacing me?”
It seems that “deadlines have become guidelines” rather than something to be taken seriously.
Yet, the answer is simple. Work needs to be done, and tasks completed on time. When deadlines are ignored, self-inflictied stress and additional work is created.
If you take your deadlines seriously, you will abide by the due dates promised. There are many benefits to this common sense approach. Not only will you get more done, but you will do so with less effort.
Here are 10 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Wait Until Deadlines:
- Reduce Stress – Deadlines looming over you cause stress. If you have ever sat in bed worrying about something that you haven’t completed, you know exactly that this is about. You create your own stress when you don’t meet deadlines.
- Deal with the Unexpected – Life has a way of throwing the unexpected at you, usually right before a deadline. If you wait until a due date is upon you, then you won’t have time to react when life throws a curveball. And while it is easy to use these “happenings” as an excuse, you won’t be in the situation if you finish ahead of time.
- It Feels Good to be Ahead – If being under a deadline is stressful, then being ahead of one… feels great. And it truly does. When you are ahead of schedule and ahead of due dates, you can enjoy your work more.
- Allows Time for Improvement – If you have ever rushed to finish a deliverable you know that you aren’t producing your best work. You may even still be working on it when you turn it in. However, if you finish ahead of a deadline, you will have time to revisit your work for improvements and corrections.
- Prevents Missed Opportunities – If you miss a deadline, you sometimes don’t get a second chance. Opportunities will pass you by and you won’t be able to take advantage of them.
- Avoids Penalties – Many deadlines have a penalty associated with them. It could be a late fee, or extra work required. Don’t impose these penalties upon yourself.
- Your Reputation – Everyone has a “time management reputation.” What does yours say about you? Are you the one that can be counted on to finish on time, or are you the person that everyone knows will be late in delivering?
- Frees Up Your Time and Mind – When you cross something off your list, you can also stop thinking about how you are going to complete it. Finishing ahead of deadlines frees up your mind and time to work on other things instead of endlessly worrying about that one late task.
- Allows You To Help Others – You should always do your own work before volunteering to helping another .(Otherwise, you are really making both of you unsuccessful…) When you finish early, you can then help others in need of assistance or guidance.
- Motivates You – Finishing early feels great. Let your positive momentum motivate you in other endeavors and areas of your life.
Taking Deadlines Seriously
Take your deadlines seriously, and ensure they are more than just guidelines in your daily work.
Staying ahead frees you up in many ways. Mentally, you will have less stress, and more brainpower at your disposal. Time-wise you will have more time to concentrate on your important tasks instead of working on a fire drill that you created.
Take a look at your to-do list and identify which deadline you need to get ahead of today.
Life is strange. Live it well.