Hate Deadlines? Maybe Startlines Will Make You Work Better Instead.

Nothing creates more panic in the office than a deadline. Sure, some people might love the adrenaline rush of a “do-or-die” due date. Not me though.

Why Deadlines Are Bad

Look, I have nothing against deadlines. They help other people get work done. But there are also downsides to living your life around deadlines.

  • Deadlines make your procrastinate, especially when they are a long way off. It’s our natural inclination to do things at the very last minute, after all. And because of this…
  • Deadlines are extremely stressful. You rush to get things done, so you don’t care if you down one gallon of coffee or 10 Red Bulls. As long as you deliver, you don’t care if you burn out afterwards. Not good.
  • Deadlines make you less creative. If you do creative work like me, you should know that stress and time constraints both kill creativity.
  • Deadlines don’t motivate everyone. While extroverts love working under pressure, introverts need their space to work at their best.

Okay, so deadlines suck. But I have a solution in my back pocket: use startlines instead.

What The Heck Is A Startline?

A startline is exactly what it says: a date and time when you should begin doing something. You shift your focus from the end of the task to the start, creating a “do date”, if you will. Here are some reasons why startlines work better, at least for me:

  • Startlines make you feel in control. Deadlines invoke a feeling of panic, fear and utter chaos. You remove all of those things when you use startlines instead.
  • Startlines give you focus. With a deadline out of the way, you aren’t looking at the clock any more. You just get into flow and get to work.
  • Startlines help you be productive everyday. Instead of cramming your work into the few hours before a deadline, you do work every time a startline comes around. It builds a positive habit and stops procrastination.

How to Use Startlines:

  1. List down all the projects you want to work on.
  2. Break each project down to smaller, actionable tasks
  3. Beside each task, put a start date. This is its “startline”.
  4. Make sure you don’t overbook yourself. Stick to just assigning 3-5 startlines per day.
  5. At the start of each day, do the tasks for that day. Don’t mind the clock, just focus on working.
  6. At the end of the day, assign a new start date for each unfinished task.
  7. At the end of the week, assess your progress for the week. Rearrange startlines as needed to meet project deadlines.

Key Takeaway

The important things to remember about startlines is to pace your work for each day. As long as you maintain a good cadence for each project, you’ll never have to stress about meeting deadlines ever again.

Here’s another way you can deal with dreaded deadlines.