The Imaginary Deadline

For years, I struggled with managing my time effectively. One tool that has dramatically increased my effectiveness is the “imaginary deadline.”

If I’ve got a project without a deadline, it’s easy to procrastinate or work halfheartedly. But, when an assignment has a hard deadline, I start faster, work smarter, and focus better.

  • Instead of thinking, 'I need to have my sermon finished before I preach this weekend,' I have a Wednesday-at-noon deadline. It’s not anyone else’s deadline. It’s mine.
  • Rather than saying 'this video needs to be finished by next week,' I complete all videos by Wednesday at 2:00 p.m. Again, this is my deadline.
  • Instead of deciding to read my Bible plan some time during the day, I read mine before I leave my house in the morning.

These are all imaginary deadlines. But when I treat them as real, my productivity and efficiency increase.

What we've learned:

Sometimes, simply having a deadline—regardless of whether it's made up or arbitrary—is the push we need to complete a project. Try making specific deadlines and sticking to them: create a reminder on your phone, circle a date on the calendar, or put a sticky note on your laptop to remind you to hit your goal.

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