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Food for Thought: Are Deadlines Productive?


Many workers hate deadlines. The “dead” part really makes them real killers. Loaded with all the negativity as it is, the word can still be taken either as something positive or negative. So do deadline’s make you “dead” or work like clockwork?

On the level of psychology and semantics, some workplaces prefer to use the term “milestone” since not only does it have a positive connotation, it also means results. Deadlines, give out that “make-or-break” feel that you dread it rather than work for it.

But as some project people would point out, these are two different things. Thomas Baekdal points out that it’s deadlines that should be flexible and milestones are the ones that cannot be moved. Logical, but not necessarily semantic. It’s the deadlines that should make you dead, right?

In any case, however which way you define them, these are just important tasks that need to follow a schedule. If these tasks do not get accomplished, no project will be able to move forward. So in any case, does always imposing a time frame result in productivity?

It’s just a matter of reality. What you call it doesn’t really matter. Either you are a half-full or half-empty kind of guy will matter. It’s the own worker’s mindset that count. You can always take the proactive and productive route and treat it as a challenge or even as a guideline for the pace that you should set or resources that you should use to get the best results.

I know a lot of people who swear by the “grace under pressure” routine. And they claim that their best work comes out when the timer gets in the red zone. So I guess for these people, deadlines can be productive. Scott Young provides a guide on how to make deadlines productive.

Scott points out really great steps on how to go about it. And they’re quite simple – 1) knowing the ways you misuse them, 2) knowing when to use them, and 3) knowing what makes a good deadline.

Now if only worker would just have that positive mindset. Deadlines. Milestones. To hell with names. What needs to be done, needs to be done, anyway.


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