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Leadership Today - Practical Tips For Leaders

Mar 25, 2022


Deadlines can help us, but they can also take us away from what’s most important. This week we explore when to set a deadline.



Welcome to episode 130 of the Leadership Today podcast where each week we bring research to life in your leadership. This week we are looking at when to set a deadline.

Deadlines can be really helpful if we use them well. I’ve spoken before about the mere urgency effect - that we tend to focus our attention and efforts towards tasks with a deadline over and above other far more important tasks that don’t have a deadline. Deadlines attract our attention and energy. So if we set deadlines for things that aren’t important, they will draw out attention and energy away from the things that really matter.

But we can use this effect to our advantage. There are plenty of things in life that are important but never really urgent. Things like planning, rest and recovery, exercise, connections with others. We need to schedule these things into our calendar - effectively giving them a deadline.

Here is one example from my own business. Every Monday at 8.30am I review progress against a range of targets for my business. That includes the usuals like sales and delivery, and things like podcast and app downloads. But it also includes exercise, social connections, and time spent away from my family, which I try to keep within a tight range. It’s a routine - a not negotiable. Having a deadline on this helps draw my attention and energy. I can then look at these measures and schedule any actions needed over the coming weeks. It helps me to remain proactive and focused.

So this week, think of the important things in your life that you may have been neglecting. Put them in your calendar with a deadline.