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How to set realistic deadlines: A Key time management strategy

Obbaatt AngadiaFeb 22, 2023

Maintaining focus and staying on track while striving towards our goals can be a formidable challenge. We often feel like we can't do everything in our plan because of time limitations. But the truth is, we can always find time for what matters. Setting more realistic deadlines is critical for achieving our goals.

This is because deadlines give us a tangible goal to aim for. And also enables us to focus on what we have to do towards achieving our goal, avoiding any form of distraction. Deadlines are also a smart way to measure progress and get motivated. Ideally, everyone wants to achieve their goal, that’s a fact.

So if you want to achieve your goals, set realistic deadlines and get started today!

Why setting deadlines can help you stay on track

Many people think that setting deadlines is a way for self-motivation. The feeling of completing a task before the deadline can often trigger an adrenaline rush. But this isn't always the case.

A timer on a work deskSetting deadlines can actually guide you through to a specific goal that you’ve set in mind. Focusing and staying on course is much easier when you have a proper understanding of the goal.

If you don't have a clear and defined goal, it can be easy to get lost in other unnecessary things and lose track of what should be your main goal. This normally happens when working on a project that you're less familiar with.

If the starting point is not clear, it might be helpful to create a timeline outlining the sub-tasks that you need to get done in order to complete the entire project. This will support in making the right decisions and ultimately completing the task.

How to set realistic deadlines

Getting swept up in the excitement of starting a project and then struggling to see it through to completion is a common challenge. This always results in an unfinished product. To achieve real results, you need to set realistic deadlines.

Working on a project that you're excited about comes with a temptation to overwork or overdo it, which could be a result of trying to be perfect. This isn't safe. Getting a quality output starts with a well thought deadline.

An illustration of the late Apple Founder Steve JobsIf you're working on a project that you're not excited about, setting a deadline will help you get the project done. With a deadline, comes the peace of mind to work on the project without getting any distractions and ideally stay focused.

Even if you're working on a project that you're not really excited about, setting a deadline and properly defining the steps to get to the finish line will help you to stay focused and on track. It brings a sense of motivation to finish the project and you'll reduce the chances of abandoning the unfinished project.

 Tips for setting effective deadlines

Setting deadlines can range from being very simple to very complicated. Accomplishing a project without a clear understanding of the bigger picture and the steps to get achieve it can be very challenging. Avoid getting lost in the details and end up wasting away the precious time needed for the work.

The best way to set effective and realistic deadlines is to break them down into smaller but complete and more manageable sub-tasks. With these subtasks can stay on track and achieve your goals.

Another important thing to remember is to avoid setting deadlines that are unrealistic. If you cannot ascertain the ability to finish a project by a specific date, considering all the factors, then do not set a deadline for the entire project.

A tasks to do listA solution would be to break the project into smaller and clear subtasks and set deadlines for these. This way, you'll avoid overstraining and delivering poor-quality output or unnecessary frustrations.

How to adjust deadlines if you hit a roadblock

Setting deadlines is essential to any goal we have. Whether it's reaching a fitness goal, publishing a book, or starting a business, setting a deadline and then working hard towards it is crucial. Sometimes things happen that are beyond our control and that impact our project's deadline. When this happens, it's important and very okay to adjust our deadlines in order to stay on track.

The first step is to assess what caused the delay and then take steps to fix it. If the delay is as a result of unforeseen circumstances, adjust your timeline to account for the lost time. 

For those delays that result from our own negligence, measures must be put in place to ensure that this never recurs. And if we can't fix the delay, then we'll have to reevaluate our goals and see if we're still on track.

If we are, then we can keep working towards our original timeline. If we're off, then we must adjust the timeline to take into consideration the new circumstances.

The importance of breaking down the goal into manageable steps

Setting realistic deadlines critical to staying on track and achieving your goals. As they say goes, “It’s much better to shoot for the moon and not hit the ground, than to miss the moon and hit the ground”. If you do not have a clear scope or understanding of the task at hand, set granular goals that are more achievable.

For example, if you want to lose 20 pounds, your goal might be to lose 5 pounds each week and this might imply doing a specific workout or exercise and a given number of cycles or rounds each day. With this, you'll have a clear understanding of exactly what you need to do and you'll be much more likely to achieve it.

A remote worker workingSimilarly, if you want to make a given amount of money by a given time, your goal might be to set small amounts each month (let's say $2000). With this kind of plan, you can set a goal and then work on achieving it each and every month.

When to give up on a goal

Setting unrealistic deadlines can often lead to frustration and can even cause you to abandon and give up on a goal. Be sure to set a deadline that is feasible by all aspects, that which is achievable.

Avoid setting unrealistic deadlines for yourself. To set a good deadline, it's best to factor in the amount of work and time you have at your disposal to dedicate to the task.

Let's say you want to make a new website, and then you set a deadline of three weeks. Three weeks is probably too short a timeframe to build a good website. It would be more realistic to aim for one or two months. Try to stay flexible to adjust deadlines whenever necessary.

How to stay motivated when the going gets tough

Setting deadlines is a great way to stay on course and achieve your goals. Having a detailed plan in place for completing a project and its tasks is very important. You have higher chances of getting to the goal with clear end results and proper steps outlining how to get to it.

You may find that it's helpful to break down the task into smaller, more manageable pieces. Having these small sub-tasks prevents you from getting overwhelmed and you can stay focused.

An illustrations of a freelance writer workingSome people find it helpful to set a timer and start working when the timer goes off. This way, they know when the task is complete.

Setting deadlines can be challenging, however, it's important to stay on track and achieve your goals.

The power of positive thinking

Setting deadlines can be a bit tricky; however, approaching it with a positive mindset can give you a guarantee of achieving your goals. When you have a deadline, it becomes a positive challenge that you are looking forward to.

You'll feel the satisfaction of achieving the end result and you'll be able to push yourself harder, more than you would without one. Somewhere in the middle will work best. Write down your goals and break them down into smaller and more manageable sub-tasks. By doing this, your progress will be visible and a good feeling about your accomplishments will come through.

Set a deadline for yourself and then go above and beyond to make sure you hit it. Be sure to recognize and celebrate your successes along the way to keep your spirits high and motivated.

The importance of setting realistic expectations

Setting goals is important, however, setting realistic expectations for yourself is most important. When you have a complex project that requires time to complete, then avoid very unrealistic short deadlines.

Give yourself enough time to complete your tasks and achieve your goals without putting the necessary pressure on yourself to complete the work in a short time. Setting deadlines on your projects especially when working on the ones with sensitive time is vital to help you achieve your goals.

An organized office space for a freelancerNot meeting your deadline is not a crime and when you find yourself in such a situation, just adjust the deadline to complete your tasks. You can also assign a task to an individual with capabilities and take another task.

Summary & takeaways

Setting realistic deadlines can help you stay on track and achieve your goals.

By setting specific deadlines for tasks, you'll be more likely to complete them on time and feel more accomplished. In addition to staying more organized and motivated in your work, deadlines also help you avoid procrastination.

Take the example of writing an article; it can be helpful to set a deadline for a given number of words. Another example, say you're organizing your closet, set a deadline for sorting your clothes into various categories. This helps with tracking the progress made and when the task is complete. By setting deadlines, you'll be more likely to achieve your goals and stay on track.

We hope you enjoyed our article on how to set realistic deadlines. We appreciate your time to read this post. And, be sure to try these tips in your next project or task.