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How Setting Realistic Deadlines Can Increase Productivity

Do you have deadlines set up in your blogging business? I can hear you think… “eh, no? Because I’m just a one-woman show regarding my blog.”  You don’t think you need any deadlines? I thought so, too. But then I started setting realistic deadlines for my blog posts, and my productivity got so much better. 

I mean, being productive is always something we strive for, right? Because we have a lot on our plates as moms and business owners, we always look for ways to increase our productivity. 

I bet you have heard of Parkinson’s Law, which basically says that the more time you have for a task, the more time you’ll use for it. So, without any deadline, a task could take you “forever” to get done. 

Don’t underestimate the power of setting deadlines. It’s another great tool in your productivity toolbox. 

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Goals vs Deadlines

Before we dive into the magic of deadlines, let’s clear up a common misconception first: goals are not the same as deadlines.

  • Goals:  These are your big-picture dreams and aspirations. They answer the “what” – what do you want to achieve? Your goal might be to write a blog post every week or to finally launch that online course. Goals can be short-term but also long-term and ongoing.
  • Deadlines: These are the “whens” you want to achieve your goals. They’re the specific dates or times that hold you accountable, keep you on track, and move you forward. For example, the deadline for finishing the first draft of your blog post might be this Friday. Deadlines help you break down your goals into manageable steps.

Think of your goals as the destination on your road trip and deadlines as the milestones you hit along the way. Setting realistic deadlines for smaller tasks will keep you motivated and help you make progress toward achieving your overall goals.

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Why Realistic Deadlines Are Important for Your Productivity

So why are realistic deadlines so darn important? What is the purpose of deadlines? Here’s the lowdown:

  • You feel in control: Unrealistic deadlines feel like you’re driving around without a map but you know you need to get to your destination at some time. You feel overwhelmed and powerless. Setting achievable deadlines puts you in the driver’s seat. You know exactly what needs to be done and when creating a sense of calm control.
  • You stress less and do more:  Constant pressure to meet impossible deadlines is a recipe for stress overload. Realistic deadlines take the edge off, allowing you to focus your energy on getting things done, not freaking out about them. Less stress means more brainpower to tackle those blogging tasks!
  • You are more motivated: That looming, impossible deadline can feel paralyzing.  But a realistic deadline? That’s a motivator! It gives you a clear starting point and a sense of achievable progress. You’re more likely to jump right in and get started, knowing you can conquer the task within the set timeframe.
  • You get to celebrate the wins!: Reaching those smaller milestones with realistic deadlines is a chance to celebrate!  These mini-victories keep you motivated and show how much you accomplished already.

Now, let’s imagine life without realistic deadlines. Eek, it wouldn’t be pretty! Tasks pile up and can linger on our to-do lists forever, leading to procrastination and that dreaded feeling of being constantly behind. Honestly, I hate that feeling. 

Our stress levels skyrocket, and procrastination becomes your best friend (and not a good one!). Without clear deadlines, it’s hard to see progress, making it easy to get discouraged and give up on your goals altogether.

No, skipping deadlines can be a productivity killer, for sure!  

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How Setting Realistic Deadlines can Increase Productivity

So how are we going to tackle that? By setting realistic expectations or realistic deadlines. 

Break down big tasks

As I said above, deadlines are like stepping stones to get you from A to Z toward reaching your goal. So every goal needs to be broken down into smaller, more manageable ones with clear deadlines to make everything seem less daunting. 

It’s like doing laundry. First, you sort all the clothes, then wash the different piles, followed by folding and ironing. Once all that is done, you can put it in the closet again, ready to be used. You can say, by Saturday all laundry needs to be done. But breaking up this laundry task into smaller tasks (sorting, washing, folding, and putting away) will actually get this big task of doing laundry by Saturday done. So you need to set realistic deadlines for the smaller tasks because you can’t start on Friday evening and expect all clothes freshly washed in the closets by Saturday morning. 

The same goes for your blogging tasks. It will feel less overwhelming and more manageable when you break down writing a blog post or creating a course and assign realistic deadlines to the smaller chunks. 

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Time tracking is key

Ever wonder how long a blog post really takes to write? Not really? Time tracking can be a great tool to figure this out. By simply monitoring how long tasks take you to complete, you’ll gain valuable insights. This empowers you to set realistic deadlines in the future, avoiding that last-minute scramble and keeping you on track, feeling focused and in control.

Schedule buffer time

Life throws curveballs, and that’s okay! Building in buffer time when setting your deadlines will prevent you from feeling overwhelmed. I mean, you need to factor in real life, too. You’ll get distracted by kids popping in, errands that need to be run, and even me-time that needs to get a place on your calendar. 

When setting realistic deadlines, these unexpected moments won’t derail your productivity. Buffer time keeps you feeling prepared and prevents that stressful last-minute rush.

It’s like the Mom Math Method: Take as much time as you think a specific task will take and realistically multiply it by 1.5 to account for potential interruptions! Now, you can set realistic deadlines.

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Use time management tools

Once you’ve broken down your goals, your time is being tracked, and you’ve built in some buffer time, it’s time to look at some time management tools. Here are a few techniques to explore to help you set realistic deadlines.

Time Blocking

Imagine carving out dedicated blocks in your schedule for specific tasks. This is called time blocking. It helps you stay focused and avoid multitasking, ensuring you truly dedicate the time needed to complete each step of your entire project and meet your deadlines with ease.

Pomodoro Technique

Ever feel like you’re constantly starting tasks but never finishing them? The Pomodoro Technique is your answer to this challenge. This method involves working in focused 25- or 50-minute intervals with short breaks in between. It keeps your mind fresh, boosts your concentration, and helps you conquer those deadlines one focused sprint at a time.

Prioritization Power

Not all tasks are created equal!  Mastering prioritizing allows you to focus on the most important things first. Take the Eisenhower Matrix, for example. This system helps you to categorize all your tasks based on urgency and importance. It ensures you’ll be tackling the high-impact tasks first and prevents less critical tasks from derailing your progress towards deadlines.

By incorporating these tools into your routine, you’ll gain newfound control over your time, allowing you to set and achieve those deadlines with confidence!

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Meeting your realistic deadlines

Let’s take a moment and think about what it’s like to meet deadlines. Feeling good about meeting your deadlines is important because crossing completed tasks off your list is incredibly satisfying. 

Meeting deadlines gives you a tangible sense of accomplishment and progress. You can be proud of yourself for getting your tasks done. It’ll keep you engaged and motivated in your blogging business.

But make sure it won’t stress you out. I mean, you don’t need to aim for perfection. It’s possible you need to give yourself some extra time. But good enough is perfectly fine, especially when deadlines are tight. And you know as well as I do that you can always edit a blog post later. Just get it out there, and publish it! 

Deadlines don’t have to be boring, either. Make them fun. Reframe your perspective on deadlines and think of them as opportunities for growth and accomplishment. You’ll get things done when you approach your tasks with a positive attitude and focus on satisfaction! I promise!

You met a deadline, it’s time to reward yourself. This could be anything from treating yourself to a coffee break to indulging in a relaxing bubble bath. Earning a little reward for your hard work will keep you motivated and add a sense of accomplishment beyond just meeting the deadline.

Make a little list with rewards that fit the tasks completed. A few ideas: dancing to your favorite song, a specialty cup of coffee, an episode of your favorite show, a relaxing bubble bath, movie night with friends, taking the dog out for an extra walk in the woods, going to the beach or a fun museum… you catch my drift, right?

And once you’re ready for the next project, set your deadlines again. 

Final thoughts

Juggling a family, your dreams, and that ever-growing to-do list can feel like a constant battle. But you can win by setting realistic deadlines. We’ve explored the difference between goals and deadlines, unpacked the power of realistic deadlines for boosting your productivity, and learned practical tips for setting them (along with some time-tracking techniques and time management tools that’ll keep you on track!).

You know now that realistic deadlines are not about creating stress, they’re about creating structure and empowerment. They help you break down big goals into manageable tasks, stay focused, and celebrate those amazing wins along the way. 

So ditch the monster deadlines and embrace the power of smaller, realistic ones. You’ll be amazed at how much you can achieve and how much more control and satisfaction you’ll feel in your day-to-day life.

Now, go and conquer your to-do list! You’ve got this.

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