Five Key Tips for Handling Deadlines

Why do we need deadlines when we're setting goals? How important are they and what do we need to know about them? Here are five key tips to help you get deadlines into perspective.

Tip #1. Every major goal needs a deadline. Why? Because if you don't know when you need to get to your goal, then how do you know how long to spend on each step? A time plan is just as important as an action plan.

Tip #2. Every step along the way needs its own deadline. If you are breaking your major goals down into chunks, or action steps, (and you should be), then each one of those steps needs its own time limit, so that you know exactly how long to spend on it.

Tip #3. Deadlines must be realistic. Goal setters tend to fall into two types: stretchers and plodders. The stretchers are the ones constantly pushing themselves to do better, do more, go faster. Stretchers tend to set very tight deadlines that put them under pressure. This gives them satisfaction because they are always competing against themselves.

Plodders take the slow and steady approach and set long deadlines that they know they can hit. They don't thrive on pressure. They would rather be sure of success.

Whichever type you are, all you need to do is make sure that your deadline takes into account your abilities, your available time and all the other things you need to do in your life. Don't aim to write your novel by the end of the week, if you have to spend 12 hours a day looking after your young children. Be realistic.

Tip #4. Be tough on your small deadlines, but more flexible on your big ones. In many ways, hitting the time targets on your individual action steps is more important than hitting the deadline on your major goal. Here's why:

If you are too laid back about getting each action done, you start to get laid back about the whole plan and before you know it, you'll be making excuses, getting distracted and watching your great dream fade into the distance. If you allow every action step to overrun, then the final deadline will be massively extended and might never happen.

Push yourself to meet your short term aims and you'll be amazed at how much more satisfaction, self esteem and extra motivation you'll gain each time you cross off a step along the way.

Tip #5. Be prepared to move the final deadline. If you can be disciplined about the little time goals, then don't worry too much if the major deadline is a little late. It can be tough at the outset to accurately predict how long your big goals will take. You can't foresee every setback or change of plan. Missing a major deadline is not a failure, provided you have consistently taken action since day one and provided you still have your goal in sight.

Keep doing what you're doing. You'll be there sooner than you know it and never forget that wherever you are now, you've come a huge distance from where you started.

  • About

    headshot: David Beroff in St. ThomasDavid Beroff started writing software at the age of 11, and was teaching Computer Science at Rutgers University by the time he was 18. After designing software for two decades, he started his own Internet marketing firm in '95; one of his company's earliest successes was, a free feedback-form service that was later sold to Wondermill.

    Beroff had bought and sold four million voluntary, opt-in email leads generated with properties like LeadFactory and SuperTAF before the business failed in '07. He is the author of the book, Turn Funny Email into CASH!, and is currently developing a new social media site,

    He has two grown children, and now lives outside of Scranton with his girlfriend and five cats.

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