Great article over at the 37 Signals blog on the true cost of watching TV.
Chapter 1 of David Allen’s Ready for Anything is called “Cleaning Up Creates New Directions.” Great point. Here’s what he says:
Completion of open loops, whether they be major projects or boxes of old stuff we’ve yet to purge and organize, prepares the ground for cleaner, clearer, and more complete energy for whatever shows up. We’re often not sure what’s next or what to tackle. At that point, just clean or complete something — something obvious and in front of you, right away. Soon you’ll have the energy and clarity to know what’s next, and you’ll have cleared the decks for more effective responsiveness on every front. Process your in-basket, purge your e-mails, or clean your center desk drawer. You’ve got to do it sometime anyway.
In other words, there are two reasons that you need to close up your open loops.
First, because not having them closed up and cleared out is keeping other great ideas from coming. It is strange but true — when we feel like we have a lot of incompletes, we have an unconscious resistance to great new ideas. Finish up your incompletes and open up the channel for bigger ideas.
Second, because when we’re not sure what to do next, the most important thing is often to just do something. We often gain clarity on what we should be doing through the actual act of doing something.
So, what’s the next action on this? If you need more ideas and/or you aren’t sure what’s best next, maybe you need to just knock down your inventory of unfinished projects and actions. This will spark new ideas, and you’ll have room for them.
But keep in mind that this will also bring new challenges of it’s own, because the better you get, the better you better get.
Good point from David Allen in Ready for Anything:
In golf and tennis, too firm a grip can cause you to “choke” a shot. Hanging on too tightly can limit your ability to deal with things from the most productive perspective. Micromanaging — getting too wrapped around the axles of life and work — can be a seductive trap in getting things done. Fine points are fine, as long as there’s a point. (p. 122)
In other words, if you try to control too much, you actually lose control. As in tennis, so also in productivity: too tight of a grip will cause you to choke.
Allen touches on this in his latest book, Making It All Work, as well:
If your grip is too tight on a golf club, you will lose control of your swing. If your rules are too strict for your kids, they will rebel. A boxer or karate master will attempt to coax his opponent to fear losing control, which causes the opponent to tense up and overreact. (The tactic is called a “fake.”) If your policies and procedures are draconian, you will wind up only stifling creativity, flexibility, and momentum in your environment. (p. 65)
A key part of the solution is to realize that utilizing a disciplined approach to productivity, such as GTD, doesn’t relieve you of the work of having to think about your work. As Allen writes:
Once people catch on to the power of organization per se, they sometimes go too far and try to microorganize everything: “Let’s create a system so you won’t have to think at all!” But it can’t be done. My systems do indeed relieve the mind of the tasks of remembering and reminding as much as I can, but they don’t replace the need for regular executive thinking about my stuff. … You must still engage your mind, your intelligence, and your vision to integrate those moving parts into the whole of how you interact with your world.
Interestingly, the concept of being over controlled has implications for organizational and management productivity as well. For, as Allen alludes to in one of the above quotes, if an organization tries to tie everything up with very detailed policies, the result is often that creativity and momentum are killed.
In this regard, Marcus Buckingham gets at the solution in First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently: Good managers define the right outcomes, but leave it up to each employee to find the best way there. That brings together both the need for clear expectations with the equally important need for freedom and empowerment.
In both the realms of managing others and managing yourself, too controlled is out of control. When managing others, work with people to define the right outcomes, but leave the methods to them. When managing yourself, define your outcomes (projects) and the best next steps to carry them forward (next actions), but once you’ve done this, don’t think that you’re on autopilot. Rather, that is when another level of thinking needs to begin about how to integrate what you have to do into the reality of your ongoing, ever-changing daily environment.
From Alfred D’Souza, quoted in David Allen’s book Ready for Anything: 52 Productivity Principles for Work and Life:
For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin — real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way. Something to be got through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.
I posted a few weeks ago some thoughts on how spending does not drive the economy. My point is not that spending is unimportant to the economy, but rather that lack of spending is not the core problem. For before you can spend, you need to have something to spend.
Therefore, attempts to re-start the economy by encouraging spending are addressing the symptom, not the problem. If we want to address the problem — and see spending revive — we need to realize that production precedes and enables consumption. Thus, any stimulus package needs to focus on removing obstacles to production (usually taxes and excessive regulation), rather than stimulating consumption.
This point is made very well in the book Meltdown: A Free-Market Look at Why the Stock Market Collapsed, the Economy Tanked, and Government Bailouts Will Make Things Worse. Reading that book is actually what sparked my first post on spending and the economy. To flesh things out a bit more, here is one of the most helpful (and extended) quotes from that book on spending and the economy, which I’ve broken up a bit through some brief summary statements.
(By the way, if you are aware of the “paradox of thrift,” the seeds to a large part of the answer are in this quote. If I get the chance, I’ll post more thoughts on the paradox of thrift down the road.)
Even though we are in the midst of a recession, I’m going to have to say yes.
Last month I bought some neat-looking letter holders from IKEA to maybe serve as our new in boxes upstairs. However, my wife graciously pointed out to me that they simply will not go with our decor.
So I put it on my errands list to return them. One month later, they are still there. I think I am going to have to delete the errand throw away the bins.
IKEA is about 24 miles away from our house. Not too far, but returning them will be an investment of at least an hour round trip, plus an additional 15 minutes of lost time on each side. I think the total cost for the bins was about $12.
If I had other things to do over at IKEA or the Mall of America, it would make sense to group this with those other things, thus making the trip worth it.
But at this point I don’t have other things that will take me to the area. I would argue that making a special trip — taking 1.5 hours out of my life (plus gas) in order to get that $12 back — would actually be the wasteful thing.
Time is scarce, and the true cost of that trip is in the things I wouldn’t be able to do with that 1.5 hours instead. I can think of a whole host of more valuable things to do than spend 1.5 hours to save $12. I’m not saying that $12 is inconsequential; I’m saying that returning them would take away from things of even greater consequence, which are worth more than $12.
More than this, there is simply the sheer complexity of life. It will simplify my life to stop having to pay attention to whether I have a reason to head over to IKEA. That’s worth $12 to me as well. In an age where we are pulled in so many directions, a major guiding principle needs to be: minimize complexity.
So, into the trash can these in boxes will go. Actually, for those who were slightly horrified that I suggested throwing them away, what I’ll actually do is put them into our “to give” box, so that they’ll end up at the local Goodwill.
But I mention the possibility of throwing them away to underscore the importance of minimizing the complexity of life. Reducing complexity in your life is more important than a $12 physical good.
Anyway, they’re off to Goodwill. And next time, I won’t make this mistake. Always learning…
The NY Times has an interesting op ed piece by Atul Gawande (whom some have called “the Malcolm Gladwell of doctors”) called A Life Saving Checklist. (The piece is from December, 2007, but remains very relevant.)
The article mentions that basic systems such as checklists have become essential to simplifying the complex task of providing health care. And it is effective — one checklist saved 1,500 lives and $200 million over 18 months. Checklists are a simple but powerful tool for all areas of life — from whatever you have to manage in your own life, to your organization, to industries such as health care.
But the checklist that Atul mentions was banned by the government after 18 months. The government agency that did this meant well, but this serves as a sobering illustration of what happens when process is put over results.
Here are the details from the article:
A year ago, researchers at Johns Hopkins University published the results of a program that instituted in nearly every intensive care unit in Michigan a simple five-step checklist designed to prevent certain hospital infections. It reminds doctors to make sure, for example, that before putting large intravenous lines into patients, they actually wash their hands and don a sterile gown and gloves.
The results were stunning. Within three months, the rate of bloodstream infections from these I.V. lines fell by two-thirds. The average I.C.U. cut its infection rate from 4 percent to zero. Over 18 months, the program saved more than 1,500 lives and nearly $200 million.
Yet this past month, the Office for Human Research Protections shut the program down. The agency issued notice to the researchers and the Michigan Health and Hospital Association that, by introducing a checklist and tracking the results without written, informed consent from each patient and health-care provider, they had violated scientific ethics regulations. Johns Hopkins had to halt not only the program in Michigan but also its plans to extend it to hospitals in New Jersey and Rhode Island.
The government’s decision was bizarre and dangerous. But there was a certain blinkered logic to it, which went like this: A checklist is an alteration in medical care no less than an experimental drug is. Studying an experimental drug in people without federal monitoring and explicit written permission from each patient is unethical and illegal. Therefore it is no less unethical and illegal to do the same with a checklist. Indeed, a checklist may require even more stringent oversight, the administration ruled, because the data gathered in testing it could put not only the patients but also the doctors at risk — by exposing how poorly some of them follow basic infection-prevention procedures.
To see how Gawande answers this logic, read the whole thing.
This is incredible. From the Columbia Journalism Review. Keep in mind that an exabyte is actually two levels past a terabyte.
In 2006, the world produced 161 “exabytes” of digital information—3 million times the amount of information contained in all the books ever written. Next year, the world will produced 988 exabytes of data. (Columbia Journalism Review).
Recently, he has started The Simple Wisdom Project, which is intended to be “a source of perspective and common sense about topics relating to family, faith, and life’s daily challenges.”
His latest monthly article discusses socialism. He writes it in response to a reader who “wanted to understand why socialism is a bad thing, especially in the context of the Christian commandments to love thy neighbor, care for the poor and avoid materialism.”
The short article is well worth your read. Here are a few key excerpts.
Socialism doesn’t work:
First, it just doesn’t work. At least not for very long. That’s because people are flawed and, outside of a family, a religious order, or a small group of friends, they will not continually work hard for the ‘greater good’ if they do not receive the fruits of that work themselves. As an economics major in college, I learned that this theory had a name: ‘the free-loader effect’. It is the natural tendency of people to do less and less work when they realize that they won’t see a proportionate increase in what they can get for it.
Over time—and this is an inevitable consequence of the free-loader effect—socialist societies experience decreasing productivity, risk-taking, and innovation, along with increasing tax rates, promises of government programs, and expectations from citizens about what they can get from those programs. When the economy inevitably falters under its own weight, those expectations cannot be met.
Socialism diminishes the dignity of human beings:
The second reason why I believe socialism is such a bad idea is very much related to the first, but much more important to me as a Christian: it diminishes the dignity of human beings. In socialist societies, individuals grow increasingly dependent on the government for their well-being, and less and less confident that they are capable of and responsible for themselves. This is an inevitable recipe for cynicism, fatalism and depression.
Socialism advances through a subtle, “slow creep”:
… socialism does not usually spring up over night. Instead, it creeps. Little by little we grow accustomed to new and higher taxes (“it’s just a one percent increase in the sales tax”), more government programs (“how can I vote against free ‘fill-in-the-blank” for children?”), and the false lure of getting something for nothing.
What should we do if we really want to be compassionate and make a difference?
So what are we to do if we want to act on our desire to do good and make a difference? Work hard. Create jobs. Treat our employees with dignity and love. Give generously of our money and our time to good charities and directly to those in need. And demand that our government compassionately provide effective programs and services for those who are truly incapable of providing for themselves.
But we should never, ever, support a program, a tax or a proposal that makes us feel good but ends up making the lives of the people we are supposed to be helping, and the society in which they live, more difficult and dependent.
In honor of tax day, here’s Ronald Reagan’s great quote on how there are 151 taxes in a mere loaf of bread. It’s from 1975, and I can’t say for sure if the same is true today. But if anything, my guess would be that that number has gone up, rather than down.
The quote is from a very enjoyable and helpful interview in general with Reagan that I just came across (from 1975). I would recommend reading the whole thing.
Here’s the quote I’m referring to:
If people need any more concrete explanation of this, start with the staff of life, a loaf of bread. The simplest thing; the poorest man must have it. Well, there are 151 taxes now in the price of a loaf of bread — it accounts for more than half the cost of a loaf of bread. It begins with the first tax, on the farmer that raised the wheat. Any simpleton can understand that if that farmer cannot get enough money for his wheat, to pay the property tax on his farm, he can’t be a farmer. He loses his farm. And so it is with the fellow who pays a driver’s license and a gasoline tax to drive the truckload of wheat to the mill, the miller who has to pay everything from social security tax, business license, everything else. He has to make his living over and above those costs. So they all wind up in that loaf of bread. Now an egg isn’t far behind and nobody had to make that. There’s a hundred taxes in an egg by the time it gets to market and you know the chicken didn’t put them there!
Here is a helpful four minute video clip of Tim Ferris (author of The 4-Hour Workweek) touching on a few of his top productivity tips. The video selections include some of his thoughts on:
- Single tasking
- Selective ignorance
- Parkinson’s Law (a task will swell in perceived importance and complexity in direct proportion to the time that you allot to it)
- Decreasing input and increasing output
- How he can spend only 5 minutes a day on email in spite of receiving 550+ emails per day
After you’ve given a presentation and want to make your slides available to people without having to email it as an attachment to lots of people, how do you do that? Slideshare.
Slideshare is an great place to upload and share the slides from your presentations. You can share them publicly or privately.
For example, I was recently at the Web 2.0 Expo, and a lot of the presenters put their slides up on Slideshare after their presentations. This was pretty handy.
You can also browse thousands of other presentations on the site. For more details, here is a helpful (slide) tour of the site. The most interesting 6 things it tells you about the site are that you can:
- Share your presentations with the world
- Find thousands of interesting presentations
- Create slidecasts (slides plus audio)
- Make professional contacts
- Join groups about interesting topics
- Check out slides from events you missed
Since we’re on the subject of PowerPoint (or Keynote) presentations, it’s worth giving a few words on quality.
First, here’s a helpful visual summary of how to present information in a way that is interesting and does not overwhelm the user.
Second, when creating a presentation, it’s worth checking out powerpointing.com for some useful designs.
Third, it’s worth checking out Edward Tufte’s essay The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint. He talks about the problem with PowerPoint, how to use PowerPoint right, how to avoid the boring use of bullet points, and basically blames the Challenger disaster on the incorrect use of PowerPoint.
Here is an off the cuff thought that I think may be fairly promising.
When it comes to productivity, there are several levels going on. In GTD they are called “horizons of focus.” They are:
I know a lot of people have a hard enough time just keeping a current project list, and that’s OK. For those that have attained to the level of setting specific goals and writing them down, my suggestion is this: memorize them.
In other words, David Allen’s counsel to have everything “outside your mind” so that your mind doesn’t have to use up its RAM to remember what it has to do does not apply to the higher levels. It is a great principle for the level of projects and actions. But since the higher levels are more big picture by definition, there is not as much to have to remember up there.
In fact, if you want the higher levels (your goals and mission) to govern your choice of projects and actions — which you should — then really there is almost no choice other than to have your goals down cold. It is important to write them down, but if you are actually going to be using them and guiding your actions by them, they have to be in your head as well.
This is possible because you shouldn’t have very many goals. Or, better, each quarter you should identify the most important 3-5 goals for you that quarter. You might have many more longer-term goals. But these quarterly goals need to be kept very few, because otherwise you will not be able to focus on them.
Since they are few, they can be memorized. And since they can be memorized, you can actually be acting on them. If you don’t memorize them, you’ll have the cumbersome step of always having to look back at them whenever you are deciding which projects and actions to focus on. Either that, or you’ll just ignore them.
Just some thoughts. I know that this post actually raises whole fields of issues, such as how to do goals, where to keep them, how to organize them, the nature of long-term goals versus shorter-term goals, and so forth. Thus, I run the risk here of getting a bit out of order, and discussing particulars before having given the larger framework. But, for those who utilize the 30k foot horizon of goals, this is an idea that might be worth considering.
We all know the drill: when it comes time to schedule a meeting, there is often cumbersome and detailed email back-and-forth to find a time and day that works for everyone.
There is a better way. With Doodle, you can set up a quick online poll with a few options for the meeting times. You then send the link to the poll to everyone, and they vote for what works best for them. You can then use this information to determine the meeting time, without going through a bunch of emails.
You can also use it to make a choice among movies, restaurants, or anything else that you need to decide on as a group.
And the best part is: no registration is required.
Here are two great keyboard shortcuts in Firefox:
- To go right to the search box in the upper right, press command + k (on a Mac; I would assume control + k on a PC, although I’m not sure).
- To open those search results in a new tab, press alt + enter.
The Lifehacker book notes that:
It takes 15 minutes of uninterrupted time to get into “the zone,” that wonderfully productive place where you lose all sense of time and space and get a job done.
So what happens if you multitask? You will never get into the zone. And if you never get into the zone, you will miss out on the best and most productive experience in work.
The experience of being in the zone is the same thing that Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi wrote about in his book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. “Flow” is the state (citing Lifehacker here) when “you’re fully immersed in your task, effortlessly successful, and oblivious to time and external factors.”
You get way more done — and it is far more enjoyable — when you are in this state of mind called flow. Csikszentmihalyi calls it optimal experience and actually regards it as a central feature of happiness:
The best moments of our lives usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to the limits in a voluntary moment to achieve something difficult and worthwhile. Optimal experience is thus something we make happen…
Multitasking prevents you from getting into this state of optimal experience because the state of flow comes when you are fully immersed in something difficult and worthwhile. That is, it comes through involved mental (or physical) tasks. Multitasking keeps you from being immersed and fully involved in your task, and thus is contrary to the state of flow.
We should engineer our work days to enable us to get into the zone as much as possible. This increases your productivity (I would say, at least by a factor of 4 — but that’s just a guess) and your enjoyment. To do this, “block out irrelevant distractions and let in only the information you need to get the job done” (Lifehacker, p. 140). Chapter 5 of Lifehacker gives lots of strategies for this. One of the biggest, which I’ve blogged about previously, is not to check email continuously.
Now, let me say one more thing. There may be an impression out there that those who choose to focus on one thing at a time are somehow “less capable” than those who pride themselves on multitasking. So let me address that.
If we want to get technical, the reason you can’t multitask with highly difficult and complex tasks is because the single tasks themselves involve so many components that you are really doing something like multitasking within that task. Therefore, you have no room for multitasking with outside factors which are beyond the scope of the task.
Let me give an example using my favorite quarterback, Kurt Warner. When he is on the field and drops back to pass, he has to keep a hundred different things in view. He has to know where his receivers are (and should be), where the defenders are, what the defenders may be planning to do, how significant the threat of a sack is, and so forth. The task of completing a pass is so complex that it is, in a sense, a form of multitasking within itself. Keeping all factors in view involves one’s whole attention.
Therefore, there is no room for Warner to check his Blackberry or iPhone when he is out on the field. Further, there is not even room for him to look up in the stands and wave to his wife during the middle of a play. The task requires 100% concentration.
The world of knowledge work is no different. If it is different for you… how do I say this? If it is different for you — that is, if as a rule you never feel the need to get into the zone — you are probably doing something wrong.
Here’s a helpful tip from the Lifehacker book I mentioned in the previous post. Hack number 23 is “Set up a Morning Dash.”
Some days (most days?) it can seems almost impossible to get to anything on your next action list. Now, one of the very reasons that you have a next action list is to have some lines in the sand that enable you to say “no” to less important things that come up, so that you can focus on what you’ve determined to be most important.
But unexpected gear shifts will happen — which leads to another beauty of having a next action list: it enables you to re-evaluate and re-prioritize at a moment’s notice.
However, it remains true that we often feel that we have been unable to make the progress on things that we think we should. That’s where the morning dash comes in.
Gina Trapani writes:
There is one way to ensure that you’ll knock at least one thing off your list: dedicate the first hour of your day to your most important task before you check your email, or your paper inbox, or go to any meetings. …
Choose one task — even a small one — and tackle it first thing. Accomplishing something out of the gate sets the tone for the rest of your day and guarantees that no matter how many fires you’re tasked with putting out the minute you open your email client, you still can say you got something done.
Julie Morgenstern, author of Never Check E-Mail In the Morning, makes the same point, which Trapani also quotes:
Change the rhythm of the workday by starting out with your own drumbeat….When you devote your first hour to concentrated work — a dash — the day starts with you in charge of it rather than the other way around. It’s a bold statement to the world (and yourself) that you can take control, pull away from the frenetic pace, and create the time for quiet work when you need it. In reality, if you don’t consciously create the space for the dashes, they won’t get done.
This is good advice. Peter Drucker himself suggests something similar, counseling us in The Effective Executive to “consolidate your time” into as large of chunks as possible. He writes:
The effective executive executive knows that he has to consolidate his discretionary time. He knows that he needs large chunks of time and that small driblets are no time at all. Even one quarter of the working day, if consolidated in large time units, is usually enough to get the important things done. But even three quarters of the working day are useless if they are only available as fifteen minutes here or half an hour there. (p. 49)
I’m on hour 3 of my morning dash right now — and I still feel like I need more time. But, time to get on with the rest of the day.
Last week I was finally able to spend a good chunk of time reading through Upgrade Your Life: The Lifehacker Guide to Working Smarter, Faster, Better, by Gina Trapani.
Gina is the founding editor of Lifehacker.com, the very helpful blog on software and productivity. I found the book to be just as helpful — and enjoyable — as the website. It is filled with 166 brief but very helpful “hacks” for making technology work for you more effectively.
If you get a chance, the book is worth checking out. If I get the chance, I’ll be doing some posts on it as well.
Here are some helpful, short videos that show what Microsoft Surface can do.
Surface is a 30-inch tabletop display that enables multiple people to interact with digital information. There is no mouse and no keyboard. Instead, you just grab digital content with your hands and move information between objects with simple gestures and touches.
It will be great as human to digital interfaces move more and more in this direction (and hopefully Apple will take the lead here; the iPhone is a great start). Mouses and keyboards are a limiting factor on how quickly and easily we can deal with information. We need digital interfaces that are more like the physical world if we are going to be able to keep up with the pace of opportunity and stay sane.
There will always be some place for the keyboard — namely, when you actually need to type. But a primarily touch-based, multi-dimensional interface for interacting with our computers will make both the routine and creative dimensions of work much more smooth and intuitive. The result will be that we can focus more and more on the actual work, rather than operating within the limitations of our interfaces.
At 140 characters, perhaps Twitter posts are just too long for those who really want to be productive. Enter Flutter. Flutter limits posts to 26 characters, thus taking us from microblogging to nanoblogging.
This video spoof on Twitter was pretty funny:
(By the way, you can follow me on Twitter at twitter.com/mattperman.)
Seth Godin posted last week on Getting Serious About Your Meeting Problem. It was a good post, and brings up some things I’d like to develop further off and on.
For a longer treatment of the subject — and from a somewhat unexpected angle — I’d also recommend Patrick Lencioni’s Death by Meeting.
Lencioni’s premise in Death by Meeting is not what you might expect. He doesn’t jump on the usual bandwagon of trashing on meetings. In fact, he believes that the mindset of “if I didn’t have to go to meetings, I’d like my job more” is not a good one. It would be like a surgeon saying, “If I didn’t have to operate on people, I’d like my job more.”
So instead, Lencioni’s point is that we need to make meetings better. In fact, he argues that meetings should be more interesting than movies.
The reason most meetings are bad is that they lack two things: (1) context and (2) drama. The way to make meetings better, then, is to provide context and drama.
To provide context, he lays out the different kinds of meetings that should exist, and argues that harm is done when we combine incompatible things into the same meeting. For example, tactical and strategic meetings should be kept distinct. You shouldn’t bog down a strategic meeting with tactical issues.
Beyond this, meetings ought to be more interesting than movies because they actually affect reality. They key to making them so is drama. Not artifical drama, for sure. But by being willing to engage in constructive ideological conflict and mine for differences, meetings become naturally engaging, compelling, and energizing.
Steven DeMaio has a helpful article on The Art of the Self-Imposed Deadline.
Before you check that out, it’s worth asking how self-imposed deadlines relate to GTD. For, on the face of it, self-imposed deadlines actually seem contrary to the “getting things done” approach. Here’s a quick word on that.
One of the principles of GTD is that you should only put deadlines on stuff that really has a deadline. This preserves your “hard landscape” so that you can make effective decisions, knowing what really is on a timeline and what isn’t.
It would be easy to take that counsel and then conclude that, therefore, we should never have self-imposed deadlines — that somehow self-imposed deadlines “don’t count” or “aren’t real,” but deadlines imposed by others somehow are.
But this would be a mistake. It would be a mistake to think that self-imposed deadlines aren’t valid, but deadlines imposed by others are.
The reason it is so easy to fall think that self-imposed deadlines aren’t real is that we tend to think that a self-imposed deadline is arbitrary. After all, we’re the one setting it. So why does it have to be Friday rather than next Wednesday?
But if you think about it, the same charge of arbitrariness could be made for deadlines that are assigned to us as well. After all, some person decided on that deadline as well. Why does that make it any less arbitrary than when we set the deadline ourselves?
The fact is that deadlines are a convention for keeping your work going along at the right clip. It is true that sometimes a deadline is an indication that things will completely fall apart if it is not made (for ex: I have to be at the airport in 1 hour, and here I am typing this blog post — better get this wrapped up!).
But the main value of deadlines is that they are a way to keep all your work from hitting at once, and to coordinate your work with the expectations of others so that they can fit your deliverables into their own consequent work in an orderly way. When this framework is behind your deadlines, they are not “arbitrary” but are in fact quite useful — and necessary.
In fact, without some manner of self-imposed deadlines on your work, you’ll either never get anything done, or you will never get any rest (because when nothing has a due date, your mind tends to feel like everything is always due right away – so you’ll feel like you should always be working).
The trick is, just don’t set too many deadlines. Use this tool, but use it wisely.
Well, with this said, go take a look at Steven DeMaio’s four tips for learning The Art of the Self-Imposed Deadline.