Little Man conquering the brick stairs
On the same day, three male students enroll in the same online course. All course work must be submitted within 12 weeks. This is the only hard deadline.
The first student, Mr. E. Z. Breezy, throws his curriculum packets into the back seat of his car with all the mail he has been meaning to get to. The packet will remain here until the middle of week 11, at which time, Mr. Breezy will attempt to complete the entire course before the 12 week deadline.
When the second student, Mr. Wer Co Holic receives his curriculum packet, he returns to his apartment and begins immediately working on the course. By ignoring the needs of others around him and all other priorities, Wer is able to complete the 12 week course in the first 4 weeks. However, he has lost his part-time job, and his girl friend is now dating E.Z.
The third student, Mr. Cal I Brated, also gets his curriculum packet. After he returns home from his full-time job, he kisses his wife and kids. When the kids are fed, cleaned, and resting, Cal sits down at his desk with his planner and his curriculum packet. He sets reasonable (soft) deadlines for himself, to prevent the work from becoming too overwhelming. No priorities are ignored, loved ones are properly loved, and the course is completed at the end of the 12 weeks.
All three men approached the course in a different way. Some of you may identify yourself in one of these approaches. Regardless of how you approach life, you certainly should be aware that a key skill in productivity is not procrastinating. Deadlines can be motivating, especially when it leads to bad consequences when not met. For those who write without deadlines, it can be hard to remain motivated.
I stumbled upon a useful article How to Motivate Yourself Without Hard Deadlines by Scott Young. Mr. Young lays out a path to set and meet "soft" deadlines. These are deadlines that do not hold heavy consequences. He explains the the 3 keys to being the master of your to-do list are
- Set Reasonable Expectations : No too easy and too hard to meet within the time frame.
- Cycling Hard and Easy Days: After hard full days, reward yourself with a slower easy day
- Schedule Calibration: Train yourself to finish your to-do list no more no less.