The Importance of Setting Deadlines for Yourself

Written by Rachel Gupta

It is absolutely crucial to set deadlines for yourself to help you achieve your goals.

Whether you want to complete a project at work – or achieve a personal goal – it’s important to set realistic deadlines for yourself.

Personally, for me, if I don’t set deadlines, then I’ll just let my task sit around forever because I’m never fully satisfied. There’s always a way to tweak something and make an element slightly better. If I don’t set deadlines, then I’ll just keep tweaking my work and never accomplish anything.

Deadlines (I know I’ve already used that word 100,000 times) are helpful for the following reasons-

  1. Deadlines force you to plan ahead- How many times have you been sitting at your desk, wondering where exactly you should start on that huge project? (The answer is to make a list, but more on that later) When you set a deadline, it forces you to think and plan ahead. How much time do you need for this task? How much work does it entail? Where should you start? It forces you to think through the steps you need to achieve it. Visualizing all the steps involved (and finishing it) can help motivate you to start tackling each small step.

     2. Deadlines help you prioritize- There is nothing like a strict deadline to help you prioritize your workflow. As I am writing this article, I have set a deadline for myself. I have to get this article done in the next half hour. It just helps you feel more focused and organized.

     3. Deadlines push you- All the papers and projects you are assigned in school push you to get everything done – and sometimes stay awake all night in order to do that. If we didn’t have deadlines with consequences, we would never push ourselves. You need to set deadlines (and possibly consequences) for yourself to push yourself.


S    pecific
R   ealistic
T    ime-bound

  1. Use SMART goals – When setting deadlines, for yourself, make sure they are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time bound. It might sound a little over-the-top now, but you can never go wrong that way!

     2. Make a list, cross things off- I have probably made 10 million lists of things to do in my lifetime. And by the time I’m done with one them, it is inevitably a complete mess. Call me crazy, but crossing something that I’ve accomplished off a list sends a feeling of elation running through me. That’s why I write out a to-do list every day after school. It tells me what I have to do and helps me organize my thoughts and tasks.

BONUS- to make your to-do list super functional, you could organize your tasks in order of priority. (Don’t just put the easiest one first!)

     3. Set consequences and rewards- Every day in school, you are faced with the task of meeting deadlines with a reward/consequence result. Do that for yourself- give yourself deadlines with consequences and rewards. For example, if you achieve your deadline, you will celebrate by doing something fun or buying something you’ve been wanting. If you miss your deadline, you’re not allowed to do something you enjoy.

     4. GO! – this one might sound a little weird to you. What I mean is, JUST START. Let me paint you a little picture. You’re sitting in bed, dreading that one-pager you have to do for English class. It’s due in one week, so you could easily start tomorrow or the day after. After all, you just got back home from practice-you’re tired. I’m going to interrupt myself here to say NO. You’re looking at it as a whole. Start with one step. Then do the next. And the next. Suddenly, you’re done with your work. Wasn’t that easy..?


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