There are scenarios in which workers won’t have deadlines to push them to be productive. Some jobs don’t require deadlines, as do certain assignments given on the side. The question is, how do you make sure you’re still getting work done when you don’t have a deadline to push you? Here’s how to stay productive when you don’t have deadlines.
Working without a specific deadline is the reality that many people face in business. It also applies to individuals trying to create a startup business or achieve a dream on their own time, with no external forces pushing them further. You will want to remain productive even if you feel like your to-do list is in limbo.
Create Your Own Deadlines
If you work best under deadlines, create some on your own! You don’t have to wait for your employer to tell you when to finish a project to set some parameters. Setting a due date in your online calendar for yourself is an easy way to push your productivity forward.
When it comes to creating your own deadlines, make sure to stay realistic. Give yourself enough time to complete an assignment without stressing yourself out too much. Putting too much on your plate can substitute quality work for a rushed hack job in an attempt to make a self-appointed deadline.
On the other end of the spectrum, deadlines that are too far out can cause you to become complacent. Set deadlines in your online calendar that push yourself to be productive. Don’t give yourself a window of time so large that you only have to put in minimal effort to achieve your goal.
Break Down Your Projects
Most projects that don’t come with a set deadline are large or complicated in nature. The project may not have a deadline because it will take a while to complete them, or due to their size and complexity, they’re not considered as high of a priority. If that’s the case for you, start by breaking your project down into more manageable pieces.
Perhaps your project is a compilation of sales data from the past three years. That’s a lot to chew on all at once. Instead of thinking of the project as a single behemoth, break it down into smaller pieces. Try to finish a month’s worth of data by the end of the week and go from there.
When a large task is broken up this way, it’s much easier to push yourself to get things done. Instead of pursuing a finish line that’s out of sight, you get to chase down shorter checkpoints and celebrate numerous small victories. Not only is that much more motivating, but it’s also quite frankly easier to accomplish.
Develop Productivity Habits
Deadline or not, developing productivity habits will carry you through every workday. If you’re able to incorporate a productive mindset into your everyday life, you’ll be able to get things done regardless of a deadline.
Of course, if you have a project knocking on your doorstep, you might have the habits to carry yourself through. Instead, use that project as an opportunity to start ingraining the habits you wish to keep around long-term. Even working on your daily tasks can help you develop the productivity habits you wish to see in yourself.
For example, let’s say you have a bad habit of checking social media every time you get stuck on a project. You can replace that need by drinking some water or getting up and doing five push-ups to keep your brain engaged on the task at hand.
Keep on working on habits like these, and soon they’ll become second nature, no matter how difficult the assignment you’re given or the time constraint (or lack thereof) provided.
Work in Spurts
Let’s say you have a research project assigned to you from your employer with no deadline. They outline what they’re expected and ask that you turn in a completed project whenever you’re able. Now you’re tasked with figuring out how to make time for such a project and make sure you can actually put something together before anyone inquires about your progress.
One of the best ways to get a project done in the circumstances like these is to work in spurts. Block out an hour of your time each day to work on this project. During that time, focus all of your attention on the task at hand. This blitz of productivity will make sure you’re always chipping away at your project, even if it’s just a little bit each day.
Find Your Why
This is perhaps the most important thing to remember. Finding your ‘why’ and latching onto it will motivate you to be productive no matter what. In addition, it will create a sense of urgency that a deadline would normally provide.
Many people work to support their families. If finishing that extra project or getting that startup going makes it easier to provide for your spouse and children, that should be enough to get you going without a deadline. Wanting the extra cash to travel the world or pay off some debt are also great short-term motivational factors you can cling to.
Your ‘why’ can be something as large as a job promotion or building your dream job from the ground up to something small, like promising yourself a bowl of ice cream if you can finish a task without a deadline in addition to your regular workload. Find what motivates you and use your online calendar to latch onto it.
Deadlines or not, you can find ways to reach maximum productivity. Now get to work; the world is waiting for you to do big things.
Image Credit: andrea piacquadio; pexels; thank you!