Micro Deadlines: How to Capture Urgency and Be More Productive

I've always hated deadlines.

In school, deadlines were ever looming—projects that were supposed to take weeks. The kind of deadline that becomes meaningless until suddenly your project is due tomorrow.

The project you forgot about. The project you haven't even started on.

Truth be told, this was my moment to shine.

With the deadline imminent and my progress at zero, I flew into action. 4 weeks of work crammed into a single sleepless night. And the final piece? It was good.

Reflecting back, I'm amazed at the amount of work completed in such a short amount of time. Why couldn't I normally work like that? What was so special about that 11th hour when I couldn't do anything other than work on that project?

The trick to recapturing your moments of potent productivity is the micro deadline.

Invent urgency to motivate yourself to accomplish more:

  • Use a timer. Whether you prefer the Pomodoro method (25 minutes of work, 5 minute breaks), the Ultradian method (90m/20m), or something in between—using timers to create micro deadlines is a time-tested (ha!) technique for increasing your output.
  • Don't break the chain. Follow the Seinfeld method: do something once a day, every single day, and never stop. Boom - daily micro deadline.
  • Public accountability. Tell people what you're going to accomplish and when. By declaring a deadline out loud, you wager your credibility on its success or failure.

Time to get to work.