There was a time when all the management books told to set deadlines for everything. I’ve also been under this kind of boss so I know how to set them. It works in some environments if you’re accountable to someone else than yourself. But more and more people are accountable only to themselves.
When you work as a freelancer or for yourself those arbitrary deadlines don’t work anymore. If I know the deadlines are made up I won’t respect them. Most probably you won’t either.
The perfect way to go around this is not set any. Instead what you do is flip the idea of to do list on its head. When you start thinking in the terms of “what does it give me if I get this task done” you will suddenly see the outcome instead of the task.
I didn’t actually mention something obvious which I maybe should do now. These tasks that I’m talking about are those that you don’t want to do but at some point you just need to get them over with.
Sometimes indeed finishing the task only gives you a peace of mind. But at the end of the day peace of mind goes a long way.
Paul Rauno Merisalu November 16th, 2012