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How to Use Deadlines to Improve Time Management

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Time management is the key to your success. You must VALUE YOUR TIME to get ahead.

Yet for some people – myself included – it's really hard to make the most of the 24 hours that we are given.

The reason?

Because we consider time to be a renewable resource.

Until it isn't.

Think about it.

It's usually easier to get something done when you have a deadline.

How You Manage Time When You Have a Deadline

In school – when a project or paper is due, you somehow get it done on time.

The same thing applies at work – if you want to keep your job, you meet the deadline.

And at home we often apply the “deadline” principle without realizing it.

If you are hosting a birthday party or Thanksgiving dinner – well, food is ready and decorations are up when people arrive.

When you are working towards a deadline, you realize that time is running out and you have to make the most of what you've got.

How You Manage Unstructured Time

Somehow these same principles are hard to apply to personal time or unstructured time.

We don't operate everyday life under strict deadlines.

So, we end up checking social media or email, and flitting from one activity to another without direction.

This continues until our next self imposed “deadline”.

This deadline could take the form of:

  • time to go to work
  • bedtime
  • dinner time
  • an appointment time.

Take Charge of Your Unstructured Time

The key to getting ahead is learning how to take control of all that unstructured time – both at work and at home.

You have two choices:

  1. Become a victim of your circumstance – meaning continue on without a plan or
  2. Take charge of your time and be in control of what you do.

If you are here looking for a way to improve your time management – I am guessing that number two is what you are going for.

How to Set Deadlines for Yourself

All the deadlines that I have mentioned so far are externally imposed to some extent.

Other people or circumstances dictate when something needs to get done.

Now you need to take this concept of deadlines and learn how to apply it to your free time.

You also want to do this in a way that is less stressful and more appealing so that you continue to use this time management tool to keep pushing yourself towards your goals.

Create a Time Focused Mindset

The first and easiest thing to do is create a time focused mindset.

Drill these concepts into your mind:

  • Your time is valuable.
  • Time is finite – it is limited.
  • The choices you make on how to use your time are crucial.

Set a Personal Goal and Deadline

When I hear the word “goals” I always think of something lofty and long term like “Make a million dollars in 5 years”.

In actuality a “goal” can be something much smaller and seemingly insignificant.

Maybe your hallway closet is overflowing and it is driving you nuts.

The problem is that the only time you think about it is when you go to hang up your jacket.

The way to make progress is to create a goal for yourself to organize the closet by the end of the week.

Now you have one concrete project with a deadline.

Make A Plan

In a perfect world, you should write down a plan to make this project happen.

What will you do on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday etc to move the needle?

If you can swing it, great!

But if you shy away from this kind of structure, all is not lost.

Fall back on your time focused mindset.

Keep your goal of organizing the closet front and center in your mind and …

Be VERY Vigilant About Your Choices

When you CHOOSE to do something, you are actually making 2 choices.

You are not only choosing to do something with your time – you are also choosing NOT to do something else.

With a time focused mindset you should be asking yourself this question over and over again throughout the day:

If I choose to do this activity, will it bring me closer to accomplishing my goals?

Using our example, whenever you find yourself free time throughout the week – you should be asking yourself – What can I do right now to get the closet organized by the end of the week?

When you find yourself falling into the black hole that is Facebook, you can pull yourself out by reminding yourself of your closet organization goal.

And here's a bonus – when you are out and about running errands, you will remember your closet organization goal and pick up the bins or organizers that you need.

Because you are on top of your time management – you may even surprise yourself by having put together a list of the exact dimensions of your closet so you can find products that will fit.

It is amazing how efficient you become by practicing good time management.

Steps for Good Time Management

It sounds really simple doesn't it?

  • Change your mindset
  • Set a goal and a DEADLINE
  • Create a plan
  • Make choices that move you forward

Just beware of one trap – too much of a good thing is bad.

When you put this formula into play, you will be blown away by how well it works.

So, you might get so excited that you will start to create lots of personal goals.

You will want to do all the things.

When you try to do too much, you get overwhelmed and you end up getting nothing done.

This is where you might give up on the process.

My advice is make a list of all the things you want to do but ONLY tackle one project at a time.

Focus on that one thing.

Only when it is finished should you start on the next one.

Leave a comment below to let me know how this strategy works for you.

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